Brain Facts

Posted by Safe In4 Hub

Triggering fear

Fear is triggered by an immediate and obvious threat, such as when a person points a gun in your face. When this happens, the amygdala may well trigger an automatic response that does not even give you time to think (which can be a good thing -- you don't have time to muse about what to do when a lion is jumping out at you). A person who has had their amygdala (where fear is triggered) removed not only loses their fear but also their ability to recognize anger.

Fear also occurs after cognitive inference where we predict that either our needs or our goals will be damaged in some way. Fear is thus triggered by an internal forecast.

Sound is a primitive trigger of fear and the roar of a lion or the scream of a terrified child can send shivers down your spine. The sound of danger or the fear of others implies an imminent threat and so fear is triggered to elicit a desire for escape and survival.

Our need for control is, to some extent, fear-driven. If I cannot control the world around me, it may threaten me. Just my forecast of this is enough to cause me to fear.

Pessimism leads to fear, as we habitually forecast that we will fail or that bad things will happen to us. Because we can never fully forecast the future, we may live in a permanent state of fear.

Much has been made of the fear of death, which we know we will all ultimately face. Samurai warriors were famed for having no fear of death and would even commit suicide at the whim of their masters.

Fear can also happen from confusion, which happens when we are unable to infer meaning. The logic of this goes something like 'I can't find any meaning. I don't know if it will harm me. I'd better feel frightened, just in case.'

Fear is related to anger. Fear is triggered by anger and, unsurprisingly, anger seeks to create fear.  Fear can also morph into anger when the Fight-or-Flight reaction goes down the fight path.

When people recognize something fearful a common response is to get away from it somehow. If, however, the subject of fear is vague and there is no clear escape, then a common alternative response is to deny the fear, pretending that it does not exist.

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