What do we fear? Understanding this can be a route to the management of fear.
A basic fear is of pain, especially if we have recently experienced it or can easily imagine it. A torturer standing in front of the person, instruments in hand has long been sufficient to persuade many to give up their secrets. We also fear emotional pain, such as in distress and loss. It is perhaps not surprising that the same part of the brain processes physical and emotional pain. The response to pain, real or imagined, is to urgently seek to reduce it. We also fear social pain such as disgrace, shame and being ignored by others.
We fear for our selves, and the fear of death is not the same as the fear of dying (which may include considerations of pain). Death (unless you have religious beliefs about this) means the extinction of the self, the ultimate loss of identity. This is also why we fear mental illness. Another deep fear is of loss of control. In fact a threat to most needs can result in fear.
We can also fear for others and the world in general. This can be worse than fearing for oneself as these are often areas outside one's control. This is the dilemma of many parents who see their children act badly yet feel powerless to control it.
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