We have all heard the seemingly discriminating remarks that fear is normal or abnormal, and that normal fear is to be regarded as a friend, while abnormal fear should be destroyed as an enemy. But what is the definition of fear, what does it mean to us? The fact is that no so called normal fear can be named which has not been clearly absent in some people who have had every cause therefore.
If you will run over human history in your mind, or look about you in the present life, you will find here and there persons who, in situations or before objects which ought, as any fearful soul will insist, to inspire the feeling of at least normal self-protecting fear, are nevertheless wholly without the feeling.
They possess every feeling and thought demanded except fear. The idea of self-preservation is as strongly present as with the most abjectly timid or terrified, but fear they do not know. This fearless awareness of fear suggesting conditions may be due to several causes.
It may result from constitutional make-up, or from long continued training or habituation, or from religious ecstasy, or from a perfectly calm sense of spiritual selfhood which is unhurtable, or from the action of very exalted reason.
Types of fear.
Back in 1937 Napoleon Hill book identified the six basic fears:
- 1. Poverty
- 2. Criticism
- 3. Ill Health
- 4. Loss of Love
- 5. Old Age
- 6. Death
Types of fear source: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
Nowadays research found that different types of fear are processed by different groups of neurons – fear of predators, aggressive members of the same species, or pain are processed by different brain circuits. Source: Different types of fear
Banish all fear?
It is on such considerations that I have come to hold that all real fear-feeling should and may be banished from our life, and that what we call “normal fear” should be substituted in our language by “instinct” or by “reason,” the element of fear being dropped altogether.
Fear is the biggest obstacle to success
Definition of fear in human evolution.
As a warning and as a maker of panic. But let us say that the warning should be understood as given to reason, that fear need not appear at all, and that the panic is perfectly useless and irrational pain. With these discriminations in mind, we may now go on to a preliminary study of fear.
What is fear?
- Fear is either (a) an impulse, (b) a habit, or (c) a disease.
- Fear, as it exists in man, is a make-believe of sanity, a creature of the imagination, a state of insanity and conditioning.
- Furthermore, fear is, now of the nerves, now of the mind, now of the moral consciousness.
The anatomy of fear
To define fear in science.
A study conducted by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2014 found a new neural circuit in the brain that directly links the site of fear memory with an area of the brainstem that controls behavior. Source ScienceDaily
The division depends upon the point of view. What is commonly called normal fear should give place to reason, using the word to cover instinct as well as thought.
Whatever its manifestations, wherever its apparent location, fear is a psychic state, of course, reacting upon the individual in several ways: as, in the nerves, in mental moods, in a single impulse, in a chronic habit, in a totally unbalanced condition. The reaction has always a good intention, meaning, in each case, “Take care! Danger!” You will see that this is so if you will look for a moment at three comprehensive kinds of fear fear of self, fear for self, fear for others. Read these simple self esteem tips.
Fear of self is indirectly fear for self danger. Fear for others signifies fore-sensed or fore-pictured distress to self because of anticipated misfortune to others. I often wonder whether, when we fear for others, it is distress to self or hurt to them that is most emphatically in our thought.
Psychological definition of fear.
Fear, then, is usually regarded as the soul’s danger signal. But the true signal is instinctive and thoughtful reason.
Even instinct and reason, acting as warning, may perform their duty abnormally, or assume abnormal proportions. And then we have the feeling of fear. The normal warning is induced by actual danger apprehended by mind in a state of balance and self-control. Normal mind is always capable of such warning. There are but two ways in which so-called normal fear, acting in the guise of reason, may be annihilated: by the substitution of reason for fear, and by the assurance of the white life.
Let it be understood, now, that by normal fear is here meant normal reason real fear being denied place and function altogether. Then we may say that such action of reason is a benefactor to man. It is, with pain and weariness, the philanthropy of the nature of things within us.
I do not say there is no such thing as fear. Fear does exist. But it exists in your life by your permission only, not because it is needful as a warning against “evil.” Fear in man is a result of repeated suggestion, to which low health-tone is a natural invitation. Health is the primary tonic against fear.
Tactics on How to overcome fear
Fear and anxiety is induced by unduly magnifying actual danger, or by conjuring up fictitious dangers through excessive and misdirected psychical reactions, like phobias. This also may be taken as a signal of danger, but it is a falsely-intentioned witness, for it is not needed, is hostile to the individual because it threatens self-control and it absorbs life’s forces in useless and destructive work when they ought to be engaged in creating values.
We hope you found our article on the definition of fear informative and useful.