Fear is a basic human emotion which causes a pyschological and physiological response in the body known as ‘fight or flight.’
It occurs as a result of a sense of impending danger, evil or pain. Fear is a necessary defensive stragegy against things that may cause us harm because it serves as a motivation to escape to safety.
Sometimes people seek out fearful experiences for the thrill. Such as in adrenaline sports.
Fear can become a trigger to mental illness when it causes phobia or paranoia.
is a term used to describe a psychosis of fear, described as a heightened perception of being persecuted, false or otherwise. This degree of fear often indicates that one has changed their normal behavior in radical ways, and may have become extremely compulsive. Sometimes, the result of extreme paranoia is a phobia. If someone has a phobia, terror can overwhelm them to the point of leading them to make irrational choices and non-typical behavior.
Fear can also affect the subconcious and unconcious mind, most notably through nightmares
Humans react to fear by becoming intimidated, or aggressive. Fear can be recognised in facial features.
- One’s eyes widen (out of anticipation for what will happen next)
- The pupils dilate (to take in more light)
- The upper lip rises
- The brows draw together
- Lips stretch horizontally.
The muscles used for physical movement are tightened and primed with oxygen in preparation for a physical fight or flight response. Perspiration occurs due to blood being shunted from body’s viscera to the peripheral parts of the body. Blood that is shunted from the viscera to the rest of the body will transfer, along with oxygen and nutrients, heat, prompting perspiration to cool the body.
The sensory organs are modified (or redirected) to deal with events that have evolutionarily been the most likely to cause harm. When the stimulus is shocking or abrupt, a common reaction is to cover or otherwise protect vulnerable parts of the anatomy, particularly the face and head. The person’s heart rate and heartbeat may increase.
Dealing with fear
- Know that being scared is normal: Don’t feel guilty or weak for being scared.
- Talk about the fear: If you can’t talk to your loved one, find someone else who will understand. Talking about your fears can actually help relieve them.
- Find an outlet: Everyone has a different way of blowing off steam. You might find writing in a journal or taking a brisk walk helpful activities to get your mind off of your own fears. These activities help release tensions and stress and make you better able to support your loved one.