Why do we fear?


Part of what makes us alive is that we experience feelings. One of the many things that we could possibly feel is fear. The question is, where does this fear stem from? Are we just born naturally fearing certain things or do we develop fears of things that could possibly cause us harm? And what about irrational fears, how do we obtain fears of things that we have absolutely no reason to fear?

One explanation for why we fear things is the biological basis. This is the idea that the fear and phobias people developed may have come about due to a biological reason such as genetics or evolution. One of these theories is that through the process of evolution, people have been born to naturally fear certain things that could hurt them or even kill them. There is also some belief that people are born with a genetic predisposition to phobias. Though this idea is often used to explain schizophrenia, it can also be applied to the developing of phobias, all due to a triggering event. This genetic predisposition theory couldn’t cause just the development of phobias but also for several other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and OCD. It is not yet know if their is a specific gene that causes the specific development of phobias or even if their is a different gene at play when different phobias are developed. This a relatively new theory that could be seen as controversial. Because phobias are also considered anxiety disorder, it should probably be considered that in terms of biological causes for phobias, it might be because of an imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain, as it is for other anxiety disorders such as anxiety and OCD. This howerver is only one field of theories that could be used to explain phobias. 

The other way of explaining the development of phobias would be to use the behaviour approach to explaining it. Behavioural psychologists are those that believe that when wwe are born, we are born entirely as blank slates and that everything that we do is a learned behaviour. Firstly, we apply the idea of classical conditioning, where we learn to associate something with something else, something that naturally produces a response from us. The neutral stimulus and the uncondtioned stimulus are then linked in the person with the phobias mind, causing  that person to provided the unconditioned response for both the conditioned and unconditioned stimulus. This is then reinforced using operant conditioning. The person will actively avoid the conditioned stimulus in order to reduce their anxiety. This will provide them with a sense of relief at being able to avoid the phobic stimulus, which reinforces the avoidant behaviour. This is known as the two process model and is what means that those with phobias continue to be afraid, according to behaviourists. 

Fear is something that is ever-changing, ever growing, just as the people that experience the feeling. It is natural to fear the things that may hurt us in the world but in this age of modern medicine and the internet, there is very little that we cannot solve.


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