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Thread: Fear: Part I

  1. #1 Fear: Part I 
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    Hey TSF. I'd like to make a multi-part discussion about fear, its origins, its purpose, and questions concerning it.

    Before we get to the second part, let's just discuss the topic of this thread:

    What is fear? What is its biological purpose? What is its evolutionary origin? Why do we experience fear?

    Quote Originally Posted by Merriam-Webster medical definition
    fear: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger and accompanied by increased autonomic activity
    Surprisingly, when I wanted to look into fear research-wise, I couldn't find much extensive information here on the internet (as far as I looked). So I was here thinking, why not make a discussion on the forum?


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  3. #2  
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    Here's one idea about fear to start off...

    Fear almost always, if not truly always, concerns the future, near or distant. A man fears he will lose his job. A junior high girl fears she will not "fit in with the crowd". A high school professor fears his students won't find his lesson as enjoying as he does.

    Is fear always future-related? What if I thought "I'm afraid she got hurt". It maybe a matter of the past, or is it still future, because it involves the future realization of whether she got hurt or not.

    What are your insights?


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    What is fear? What is its biological purpose? What is its evolutionary origin? Why do we experience fear?
    Quote Originally Posted by halorealm View Post
    Fear almost always, if not truly always, concerns the future, near or distant.
    Yes, fear involves some sort of projection of present events into the future.

    I think fear is also driven by the anticipation of loss, whether it's flunking a calculus exam, being eaten by a lion, losing a love interest, acquiring a disease, drowning, etc. The person doesn't need to be totally convinced, but the fear is a function of the loss's:
    • magnitude,
    • certainty
    • temporal proximity, and
    • lack of coping skills
    Tell a teenager that he will definitely die when he's 100, and he'd probably laugh it off. Tell the same teenager who's just rung his prom date's doorbell that he might develop a zit before his date opens the door, and he may well panic.

    I also think that psychologist WB Cannon's "fight-or-flight" theory is also involved with fear. Added to those outcomes is also freeze (deer stands still), feign (non-venomous snake assumes the strike pose), and faint (playing possum).

    What surprises me is that some people express anger where a normal person would express fear. For example, I knew a guy who, having just learned that his girlfriend might be deported as an illegal alien (ie, lose a love interest), became angry instead of fearful, although I suspect that he was fearful deep down inside but would/could not express it.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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