Definitions and Functions of Fear

by admin on October 18, 2012

Fear is one of our normal emotional responses to situations in life.  It’s a reaction to a real and present signal telling us that we could be in danger of attack from the big bear we suddenly see on our nature stroll, or we might be in danger of attack from the burglar who has broken into our house.  In those and many other circumstances, it’s quite appropriate and indeed healthy to feel fear Without that response, we wouldn’t get out of the way of whatever real danger we were facing.  When the fear emotion is felt, our body automatically and immediately releases adrenaline into our system.  That adrenaline makes you much more alert and with fear comes a certain amount of apprehension or worry.  Adrenaline and what’s called the ‘stress hormonecortisol combine to bring about many physical changes.  For instance, your muscles become tense – so that you can run away from danger more readily, or so that you can lift that heavy object off your child.  Adrenaline makes your heart beat faster to give you more oxygen more quickly to cope with danger and it often causes us to evacuate our bowel or vomit.

Under the influence of adrenaline, your body suddenly goes into one of three modes.  First there’s FIGHT mode where you have to fight off danger or work frantically to get out of danger.  Secondly, we talk about the FLIGHT response to danger where you swerve to miss an oncoming car or you run away from a dangerous situation.  The third response is the FREEZE reaction to danger that we see a lot in animals when they’re hunted using spotlights.  The animal sees the spotlight and literally freezes on the spot.  In all animals, including humans, that’s usually an intermediate response in that we might be ‘frozen on the spot’ for a minute or so but then we quickly run away or stay and fight. Once you know the danger has passed, the fear dissipates or goes away, though some of the symptoms of fear (high pulse rate, dry throat, shaking limbs) may last for a few more minutes.

Previous post:

Next post: