Fear has been one of the most prominent emotions of mankind and one most important part of the human emotion spectrum.No matter how brave you are there has one moment in your life when you were in the grips of fear. Fear is a universal emotion present in a whole different range of cultures and even in animals. So the only way to understand it is to dive into the emotion and dissect it layers by layer. Starting by understanding
What is Fear?
Fear is an unpleasant feeling that may arise because of some problematic, unimaginable, or dangerous situation that you may experience can be described as a chain of reaction in our body. Fear is a name that we have given to all the changes that happen in our bodies. When we experience fear it because the blood flow to our digestive system gets diverted to other parts of our body which will help us in the fight or flight action. There are mostly two types of fear one is innate fear and the other is kind of phobias.
· Innate fear: It kind of the fear that we are born with and shared by most commonly among the people like the fear of the death and fear of snakes and we have the right reason to be afraid of them.
· Phobia: These are the ones that we learn and develop a fear of even though there is no biological reason for us to fear them. It has seen a drastic increase in the present years. Fear can spread easily because of a factor called the emotional contagion as a social animal it one of the driving factors that help us to mimic another person’s state of mind.
What happens to our body?
Fear causes several changes in our body it is a survival mechanism how we respond to something scary today is the same as our ancestors did years back. It gives rise to fight or flight situation which is because of the sympathetic nervous system that prepares us to either confront the situation or to flee from it as far as possible. Our body gets stuck on one goal that is to keep us alive.
The adrenaline gland reacts to this by going in ana hyper mood and then rushing our body with adrenaline as a result of which you may experience tickles on your body, shiver down your spin and your eyelids may end causing more light to enter your eyes so that you can the threat more clearly.
The sudden release of the neurohormones and chemicals causes a sudden increase in heart rate and breathing. The increased heartbeat is designed to furiously pump the blood to all the parts of the body moving it away from the intestine and towards the large muscles so that you can take action if necessary. And during this the blood also moves away from the body, that’s the reason some people may feel pale and cold hands when in fear.
Effects on the Brain
First of all the fear is an autonomous phenomenon. There are dozens of area involved in fear response but the most important five among them are
· Thalamus: It decides where to send the sensory data that we received from the eyes, the ears, the skin, and soon.
· Sensory Cortex: It interprets the data that we receive from the Thalamus.
· Hippocampus: It stores and retrieves the memory processes the stimuli that we get from the surrounding.
· Amygdala: It decodes the stimulus and decides whether you should be cautious of it or it is something else and it stores all the fear memories.
· Hypothalamus: It decides whether we are going to attack and just get out of there.
Blood flow decreases from the frontal lode which is responsible for logical thinking and planning. Once filled with the adrenaline the amygdala and the temporal lobe overrides your rational thinking towards whatever is frightening you. Instead, our body relies on our instinct. You might have heard the phrase ” Frozen in Terror” when someone finds something so scary that they are unable to move, this behavior is mostly seen in animals.
All this sounds unpleasant then are so drawn towards it be it watching a horror movie, going on a roller coaster. For thrill-seekers, the aftermath of the body is what provides them with high. After the fight or flight effect, the parasympathetic system takes over which releases neurotransmitters and hormones to take the body back to a rest and digest system. One of the chemicals released is dopamine it is a neurological reward that is associated with pleasure. The internal cognitive relief as our body returns normally can fill you for it, that’s why people enjoy being scared time and time again.
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