All entries for Thursday 02 February 2006

February 02, 2006

On Fear III: Harm of Fear and Manifestations of Fear

Follow-up to On Fear II: Causes of Fear and Phobias from Reverie

The harm of Fear

While the main function of Fear is a protective one, Fear can also cause life-threatening damage. The phrase ‘pass out from fear’ isn’t just a figure of speech. For the more advanced animals and humans the process of mobilization of the organism is an exceedingly strong force pushing the body’s chemicals level to an extreme. Clinical researchers and coroners have seen and recorded a number of cases where death is not caused by any organic reason. In so-called primitive civilizations (tribes) there have been recorded deaths that were caused by the crossing of a cultural taboo or a cursing of a witch. This is called ‘Voodoo death’ (studied and described by physiologist Kennon). Acute catatonic schizophrenia, which may be caused by intensive Fear (along with other reasons), may have a fatal outcome for the patient.

In mobilizing the body in anticipation of danger, Fear can literally overdo its task. Total mobilization is only appropriate when the subject needs the strength to plunge into a fight for life. However when such intensive actions are not taking place, the mobilization becomes excessive and cause unnecessary loss of body energy. Quite often students anticipating a tough exam have a higher pulse rate, which equates to that of a mountain climber. The sweaty palms reaction experienced during nervous moments were once designed for an easier grasp of the enemy, should the subject require to enter a fight with the source of threat. Uncontrollable urination was designed to lighten the body weight of the subject, should fleeing come into picture. However all of the above mentioned reactions would be totally inappropriate if the Fear (whether conscious or subconscious) is caused within a completely different set of situations, e.g. social interactions.

Increased coagulability of blood slows down the loss of blood in case of physical injuries, which are almost inevitable, should the subject join in a battle with the aggressor. Yet, if such struggle is not taking place, then the increased coagulability may lead to infarct or heart attack.

Manifestations of Fear

Many scientist name Hate as one of the most common manifestations of Fear. Psychologists and Psychiatrics often search for a source of Fear in order to explain irrational aggression.

Being one of the strongest human emotions, Fear, based on pendulum swing principle, can turn into a powerful positive emotion. There are many examples from films and fiction where on the brink of death people suddenly experience great passion. This can also be explained with human’s basic instinct: when faced with near-death experience, people instinctively try to prolong their species, presumably by developing deep passion. That is to say, one can die of love and one can fall in love before the face of death.

Human Fears differ from animal fear. According to Anton Kempinski, depending on genesis, apart from natural Fear, humans experience social, moral and disintegrated Fears. Conditions, under which humans develop sense of Fear, can be divided into four groups: (1) immediately life-threatening; (2) bearing social threat; (3) inability to act upon one’s own choices (limited freedom) and (4) disruption or tremendous change of the existing structure of relations with the outer world.

While experiencing the Fear itself we are usually unable to tell exactly which kind of Fear is controlling us. For example, patients, suffering from neurosis, experience a genuine Fear of death even though their condition is not life-threatening; on the other hand, there have been cases when in the early stages of developing oenological diseases, patients experienced social and moral Fears, when the real reason for their Fear was biological.


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