Monday, September 28, 2020

Fear

 Fear is a common human emotion, in that it can be found among almost all people. It stems from the desire to survive and thrive, but humans also have what might be called a 'fear of change', which manifests itself differently depending on each person. The fear of dying for example has led many men to sacrifice themselves or even others (such as warriors), so they may live on through their offspring; at least until death comes. This same fear has caused some young children to develop strange phobias against seemingly benign things such as clowns, snakes and spiders.

This fear of change can also be seen in the way humans have clung to old traditions and methods, even when they are obviously harmful or obsolete. The practice of slavery for example was widely accepted until it was banned by many countries around the world; a move which eventually lead to its complete abolition.

Fear is also an emotion that can affect the economy, as it leads to trades being made which are sometimes considered 'risky' by members of the general public. When someone purchases a risky investment for example, they do so because they believe it may make them rich; thus alleviating their fear of poverty and existing in relative comfort.

This same fear of poverty has led to the creation of a vast number of social welfare systems, in that people who are too poor or disabled to work for themselves can be given money by the government instead. This system is extremely expensive and has become burdened with many problems as time goes on.

Fear is not the only thing that can distort a person's judgement, as it can also be caused by other emotions such as anger or envy. These negative traits have been exploited many times throughout history in order to make people (often unknowingly) do things which benefit those who are exploiting them; for example wars being started due to national pride and conflicts between religious groups.

Fear and its resulting feelings are also utilized by some religions, in that they preach fear of a 'higher being' who will punish them for all eternity if they do not worship it; often leading to the conversion or death of those who refuse. This is an effective method for ensuring there is no competition to the religion's god.

Fear is an emotional response to a dangerous event or entity. It is one of the basic survival emotions, along with disgust, happiness and surprise.

Fear is a natural response to danger, but the actual function of fear varies dramatically from person to person, and even within one person.

Humans generally fear that which threatens their survival, such as large animals and natural disasters. Humans also develop a sense of fear for entities that they do not fully understand, such as God or the supernatural.

Fear can be a good thing, as it assists humans in avoiding danger. Fear has been demonstrated to improve memory and performance on certain tasks.

On the other hand, fear can be a very bad thing. Fear is often responsible for human irrationality and violence.

Fear can lead to overreaction, causing humans to react violently and emotionally. Fear also lends itself well to demagoguery.

The first thing to understand is that fear is a human emotion. It's what happens when the mind forms an internal representation of some event that would result in harm. That might be something happening to you, or it may be a thought about how bad things could get for someone else.

But whatever it is, the mind can't tell where that harm would come from. So the brain just makes a mental note of what caused it and assigns an emotion to that combination of circumstances. Fear.

To understand fear you have to see it as a mental representation that is not the same thing as reality. It's one of many possible interpretations of what might happen.

Some people assign a higher weighting to fear than others. This is correlated with the amount of stress they are under from living in an uncertain world without any guarantees.

When people talk about not being afraid, they mean that they would rather focus on things other than what might go wrong. It's a trade-off between the pleasantness of the present and how much you want to consider future negative possibilities.

It's not that some people are afraid and others are not. It's a continuum, with fear at one end and courage on the other.

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