Why we wish to be afraid

Why we wish to be afraid
24 March 2024 J.W.H

Fear could also be as old as life on Earth. It is a basic, deeply ingrained response that has evolved throughout the history of biology to guard organisms from a perceived threat to their integrity or existence. The fear could be so simple as antennal contraction in an affected snail, or as complex as existential anxiety in a human.

Whether we love or hate the experience of fear, it's hard to disclaim that we definitely respect it – dedicating a whole holiday to celebrating fear.

Thinking about brain circuits and human psychology, a few of the most important chemicals that contribute to the fight-or-flight response are also involved in other positive emotional states, resembling happiness and excitement. Therefore, it is smart that the high state of arousal we experience during fear can be experienced in a more positive light. But what's the difference between a “rush” and a sense of utter terror?

We are psychiatrists who treat fear and study its neurobiology. Our research and clinical interactions, in addition to those of others, suggest that a significant component influencing how we experience fear is context. When our “thinking” brain gives feedback to our “emotional” brain and we perceive ourselves as being in a secure space, we will quickly change the best way we experience this high state of arousal, moving from fear to pleasure or excitement.

For example, if you walk right into a haunted house around Halloween, expecting a ghoul to leap out at you and knowing that it's not actually a threat, you’ll be able to quickly relabel the experience. In contrast, in case you were walking down a dark alley at night and a stranger began chasing you, each your emotional and considering parts of your brain would agree that the situation was dangerous and it was time to run!

But how does your brain do it?

How can we experience fear?

The fear response begins within the brain and spreads throughout the body to adapt to the very best defense or flight response. The fear response begins in an area of ​​the brain called almond. This set of almond-shaped nuclei within the temporal lobe of the brain is designed to detect the emotional salience of stimuli – how much something stands out to us.

For example, the amygdala prompts once we see a human face expressing emotion. This response is more pronounced within the case of anger and fear. A threatening stimulus, resembling the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response within the amygdala, which prompts areas involved in preparation for motor functions related to fight or flight. It also causes the discharge of stress hormones and the sympathetic nervous system.

It results in bodily changes that prepare us to be more practical within the face of danger: the brain becomes hyperactive, the pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate, and respiratory quickens. Heart rate and blood pressure increase. Blood flow and glucose supply to skeletal muscles increase. Organs nonessential for survival, resembling the gastrointestinal system, decelerate.

A component of the brain called the hippocampus is closely connected to the amygdala. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex help the brain interpret perceived threat. They are involved in higher-level context processing, which helps an individual know whether a perceived threat is real.

A lion within the wild could make us fearful.

For example, seeing a lion within the wild may trigger a powerful fear response, however the response to seeing the identical lion in a zoo is more curiosity and considering that the lion is cute. This happens since the hippocampus and frontal cortex process contextual information, and inhibitory pathways suppress the amygdala's fear response and its downstream effects. Basically, our “thinking” circuits within the brain reassure our “emotional” areas that all the pieces is, actually, okay.

How can we learn the difference?

Being attacked by a dog or seeing one other person attacked by a dog causes fear.
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com

Like other animals, we’re very they often learn fear through personal experiences, resembling being attacked by an aggressive dog or watching other people being attacked by an aggressive dog.

However, an evolutionarily unique and interesting way for humans to learn is thru teaching – us learn from the words you say or written notes! If the sign says the dog is dangerous, being near the dog will trigger a fear response.

The creator and his Great Pyreness, Jasper.
Rash, CC BY

We learn safety in an identical way: by experiencing a domesticated dog, watching other people interact safely with that dog, or reading an indication that a dog is friendly.

Why do some people wish to be afraid?

Fear causes distraction, which is usually a positive experience. When something terrible happens, at that moment we’re on high alert and we aren’t occupied with other things that may be occupying us (trouble at work, worrying about a crucial test the subsequent day), which brings us to this place and the Now.

Moreover, once we experience these scary things with other people, we regularly find that emotions could be contagious in a positive way. We are social creatures, able to learning from one another. So if you have a look at your friend in a haunted house and she or he quickly goes from screaming to laughing, you'll give you the option to choose up on her emotional state in social interactions, which might have a positive impact on your individual.

While each of those aspects – context, distraction, social learning – can influence the best way we experience fear, the common theme that connects all of them is our sense of control. When we will recognize what’s and isn't an actual threat, relabel the experience, and luxuriate in the fun of the moment, we’re ultimately in a spot where we feel on top of things. This perception of control is central to how we experience and reply to fear. Once we overcome the initial “fight or flight” rush, we regularly feel satisfied, confident in our safety, and more confident in our ability to face the things that originally scared us.

It's necessary to do not forget that everyone seems to be different and has a singular sense of what we discover scary and what we discover nice. This raises one other query: while many may enjoy a superb scare, why may others downright hate it?

Why do some people dislike being afraid?

Any imbalance between fear-induced excitement within the animal brain and the sense of control within the context of the human brain may end up in an excessive amount of or too little excitement. If an individual perceives the experience as “too real”, the acute fear response may overwhelm the person's sense of control over the situation.

This can occur even to those that really love scary experiences: they will enjoy them Freddy Krueger movies but be too scared “Exorcist” since it seems too real and the cerebral cortex doesn’t regulate the fear response.

On the opposite hand, if the experience is just not triggering enough for the emotional brain or is simply too unrealistic for the considering cognitive brain, it might prove boring. A biologist who cannot disconnect his cognitive brain from analyzing all of the bodily things which can be realistically unimaginable in a zombie movie may not give you the option to enjoy “The living dead“identical to one other person.

So if the emotional brain is simply too scared and the cognitive brain is helpless, or if the emotional brain is bored and the cognitive brain is simply too suppressive, scary movies and experiences will not be as fun anymore.

What are anxiety disorders?

All the fun aside, abnormal levels of fear and anxiety can result in significant distress and dysfunction and limit an individual's ability to realize success and luxuriate in life. Nearly one in 4 people experience some type of it anxiety disorders over the course of their lives, and almost 8 percent experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Anxiety and fear disorders include phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These conditions typically begin at a young age and, without proper treatment, can change into chronic and debilitating and impact an individual's life trajectory. The excellent news is that we have now effective treatments that work in a comparatively short time period, in the shape of psychotherapy and medications.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”