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Fear is just a choice

"You must realize that fear is not real.
It is a product of thoughts you create.
Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice."

Will Smith

Fear, according to psychologists and researchers, is an innate emotion. Psychologists say that it is a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion, with a universal biochemical response along with the high individual emotional response. According to Oxford 'fear is a bad feeling that one has, when one is in danger or when a particular thing frightens the concerned being.' Fear is also synonymous with phobia. It can be also said that a phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. This term comes from the Greek word "Phobos"; which means horror. More research into this area reveals that there are different types of phobias existing mysteriously, whose survival is invisible and consequences leave an impact upon the victim.

The science behind fear
From a very early age, this context has been very interesting, that many types of research so far have been conducted. One of them is "The Little Albert Experiment" by John B Watson. In this, the experiment has been carried upon an 8-month-old boy, Albert. This experiment takes the stand in proving that fear can be installed externally to a human being based on the methodology of stimulus generalization. During the experiment, little Albert was exposed to fire, different animals, and fur shaped like an animal.

On the first conduct, his reactions were normal to the fur and fire showing no signs of getting afraid, above that he was comfortable with the animals without getting afraid. But on the second conduct when Albert was again exposed to the animals and the fur, there was a loud noise along with it made from the background, and after hearing this a few times, Albert started showing signs of fear, his expressions were not like before, and he tried to avoid it.

Later when the same experiment was repeated, even without the noise, his reaction to those same animals induced fear. This explains that children absorb energy before they can communicate, they are quite sensitive towards the vibes present in the air, they tend to pick up on facial expressions. These are aspects of behaviorism. It has been explained by Dr. John Watson, an American psychologist. The theory of behaviorism says that a child's environment is a factor that shapes behaviors over their genetic makeup or natural temperament.

Watson is famous for saying that 'he could take a dozen healthy infants and train any of them to become a type of specialist he might select doctor, lawyer, artist and even a beggar or thief.' Considering this theory, for an individual child, growing in a household, which is not safe, stable, and consistent, one will grow up and see the world as a fearful place.

Apparently, the external environment is holding such strength in favor of fear in human beings consequently, the solutions lie within ourselves only. It is significant that after being exposed to such situations, one is generating the reactions so here lies an opportunity that we can shift the human being from one environment to the other. Broadly speaking, inviting more information lets clarity come in.

In this way when one would have a logical perspective, eventually, fear will be reduced. For example, people are fearful about the concept of death, some do know that after death, there is eternal damnation and hell. But also some people do hold the concept that they might end up in heaven afterlife and could get the opportunity to meet the ones who had left them before.

So, in this aspect, it is about the knowledge that the individual is having. It depends on the environment of the source, from where one is gaining information. Therefore depending upon the data stored in the brain, an individual tends to react. Likewise, the more fearless a being becomes, the more valid the knowledge one acquires.

Another aspect of fear is panic. When a person is afraid, he unintentionally starts to panic. The major disadvantage of this is that the person skips the possibilities to find a way out to control the difficult situation. Due to fear our heart rate increases, hormones like adrenaline get released at a faster rate, the immune system gets weakened along with other impacts which prevent us from having a healthy mental state.

Illustrations
There are even numerous realistic examples of what is perceived as superstitious fear for instance do not walk under the ladder or a black cat crossing one's path, etc. This is where the trick of reward and punishment comes into play. One tribe sacrifices a goat, to make the rains come. Another tribe gets down on its knees, faces Mecca, and prays five times a day.

Each tribe has developed their superstitions to get rewarded after performing acts to avoid the fearful consequences upon which they have no control because religion is something that people find comforting. Similarly, the media also plays a deceiving role, through the sensational stories that will lead to the newscast. With dozens of news stories, the most negative ones are generally preferred.

According to Peter Diamandis, the author of a book called Abundance, 'every second of every day our senses bring in way too much data that we can process in our brain.' As nothing is more important to us than survival, this ancient temporal lobe called the amygdala acts as the hub. It is our early warning detector; our danger detector.

It sorts and scorns through all the information, looking for anything in the environment that might harm us. No matter when an individual gets bullied or teased the impact stays for a long time and in many cases, it has been observed that they might experience disturbing adolescence. This could be a scenario where phobia gets generated and the individuals start suffering silently.

Another live incident happened in the 2020 pandemic, where a woman had lost her life after she heard the news of herself being positive for Covid-19. According to the senior health official, the woman had a history of diabetes for the past three years, and as soon as she heard the news that she was positive, she lost consciousness and died. The situation of the pandemic in 2021 is something scary, people are helpless and there is a shortage of treatments.

The existing situation deals with a lack of oxygen facilities, hospital beds, and medical kits, and with the help of the media, common people are all being alerted about the current scenario and upon that it generates fear among themselves that what if they get the trap to such a situation. But help and support are coming from the international community. Resources are coming to India to save lives.

But the fear of losing life is still alive in the minds of people, and to some extent, fear makes a person less active and encourages them to think of those negative situations where he could be helpless. Doctors have advised that mild symptoms can be cured at home only with proper precautions, but due to lack of clarity in people's minds they tend to fear more.

There are other incidents where a 70-year-old man collapsed after hearing that, the other four family members tested positive of Covid 19. Another 59-year-old man passed away after receiving a report, which stated that he is positive for Covid 19. He succumbed within one hour after getting the report. The doctor said that the shock of getting covid positive scared the individuals which makes him lose the strength to fight back.

Fear is one of the reasons behind crimes
Even from history, there are instances, where people with unusual childhood may grow up into immoral anti-socials. As in the case of Adolf Hitler, he has observed domestic violence and gone through physical beatings by his father. Another case is of Charles Manson, who was abandoned by his mother, spent half of his life in correctional institutions, wherewith counseling it was disclosed that his behavior and habits were the consequence of a not-good childhood environment.

His crime includes convincing a group of followers to brutally murder many people. From his childhood, he has experienced a lack of sense of belonging which in some way has forced him to join a group and agree to follow orders. This kind of emotion triggers when one feels like an outsider in his own family and becomes vulnerable. Both child abuse and child neglect are examples of child maltreatment. Survivors of maltreatment can face a variety of long-term effects. One of the most devastating possible consequences of abuse and neglect is a crime.

Here one thing is common that these individuals did not have a pleasant childhood. Their environment was exposed to violence and cruelty. And as a child, they were deeply terrified by all of the situations in which they were entangled. But eventually, they developed a strong mental defense mechanism to protect themselves. Earlier they were vulnerable, but with time they understood the fact that if they control others, dominate others they will get a superior position where they need not be afraid of anybody.

Solution
To all these instances, awareness is the best anti-fear mechanism, to detect the threat. Education plays an important role when the individuals develop reasoning capacity, get proper knowledge from an appropriate source. In reality, fear is something that exists in the mind of those who tend to live a life under pressure without understanding the fact that whatever they are believing is not the same. This means fear is always about that which does not exist.

People are always suffering either from what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. The mind is divided into two parts: memory and imagination. Both are one-way imaginations, as is fear, which does not exist right now. So once one gets rooted in reality, one is free from fear. So corresponding to reality, the stuff known to be fear is real, but the environment in which the concerned human being is living is fully imaginary, reacting with a narrow aspect of thinking with the possibilities of the minimum outcome. Here are simple similarities and differences between fear and excitement.

The former do exist in the same state of the body and where the excitement is the reaction of the brain. In case of excitement the brain favors and for fear it gets defensive and against the situations. Eventually, ignoring and positive thinking make the fear worse. So making this more simple, imagination is the bunch of thoughts, thoughts are the words that we utter in our mind.

Digging deeply we have the option to choose what thoughts we could run in our minds. Getting more in the situations helps to understand the situation more and in due course one could utilize the opportunity to control the thoughts, step by step ushering good words, creating favorable imaginations one can get rid of fear. The power of the mind is beyond our imagination, and its utilization only requires a simple approval from our heart which we can do, nothing is impossible to achieve, every solution can be reached out, and accordingly, the body starts to act. But sometimes in case of severe circumstances, one cannot help but get afraid more and more.

In those instances, the first and foremost thing is to calm one's mind, to prevent other severe impacts on the body at a physical level. Also, these measures can be taken earlier. A conflict-free mind is a healthy mind, so one can practise the exercise for a calm mind, which is more curious to find clarity and effective solutions in tough times. Practices such as meditations, yoga, or other games like chess help sharpen the minds. Not only for the adults but also it should be done by the children so that a child could develop the habit of having a conflict-free mind state and have stability in mind.

Conclusion
Fear creates a situation, where the body gets prepared either to fight or flight. From fear, anxiety develops. Fear is a vital human emotion, which can save you from danger and prepare you for action but can also result in longer feelings of anxiety. Thus, finding ways to manage your fear will help you cope with these emotions and prevent anxiety from setting in.

Reference:
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/list-of-phobias
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/the-little-albert-experiment
  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-B-Watson
  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Manson
  • https://www.timesnownews.com/hyderabad/article/covid-19-people-dying-of-shock-and-fear-in-hyderabad/748981
  • https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/covid-pandemic-do-not-fear-the-virus-rajat-sharma-opinion-aaj-ki-baat-700842
  • https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/telangana/2021/apr/29/telangana-woman-dies-due-to-fear-on-testing-positive-for-covid-19-2296477.html
  • https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/impact-fear-and-anxiety
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-when-you-are-scared-2015-10?IR=T
  • https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-0-387-79948-3_2118
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817819/
  • https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna45988346
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/john-b-watson-biography-1878-1958-2795550
  • https://www.nber.org/digest/jan07/does-child-abuse-cause-crime

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