Psyche: Which fears are learned – and with which fears are we born?

  • This is where the fear comes from
  • functions of fear
  • Basic fears or learned fears?
  • dealing with fear
  • You can find help here

It is in our brain amygdala (almond core), which is part of the limbic system. It plays an important role in processing emotions. The amygdala serves as an alarm system in both animals and humans. In just fractions of a second, situations are evaluated and potential risks assessed. Images, sounds or smells can trigger fear either from birth or learned through experience.

functions of fear

Fear is a part of life and is not necessarily a bad thing. Developed to a healthy degree, fear warns you of danger, heightens your alertness and responsiveness. Biologically, fear activates your cardiovascular system, your blood vessels constrict, which increases your blood pressure, but at the same time the blood flow to your extremities, i.e. your arms and legs, decreases. The “excess blood” thus present flows on to the skeletal muscles, where it remains available to your vitals in case you need it in an emergency. Your breathing rate will usually increase as well. This gives you more of the oxygen you need to get your blood circulating faster.

Fear is one for the body stress function. In its positive form, stress basically serves to mobilize energy. Normally this is broken down again later, which leads back to an emotional balance. Humans are not designed to sustain a stress response for long periods of time, such as days, weeks, or even months. Stress and therefore also fear are much more than a “Short Term Emergency Program“, which does not last longer than 20 to 25 minutes. However, permanent stress that is not reduced or processed can cause diseases that can also develop chronic courses.

In this context, findings from the so-called “Fight, Flight, Freeze” theory Interesting. When examining the neurobiological processes of animals when threatened, the three affect-like reactions “attack, flight or feigning death” emerged. All three reactions are knee-jerk and not subject to any process of deliberation or conscious decision-making. These reaction patterns also belong to humans evolutionary survival strategy.

Basic fears or learned fears?

Like joy and sadness, anger and love, fear is one of the basic human emotions. However, the perception of fear in its perceived intensity and perceived threat is a “complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. For example, in connection with the development of anxiety disorders, studies have shown the effect between stressful life events and a gene variant of the transporter for the messenger substance serotoninfound in man. Serotonin is also known as the “happiness hormone”. It is formed in the brain and has a significant influence on our mental well-being.

If fears or their subjective feeling in phobias turn, they can Various reasons be: hereditary factors and, based on this, an (overanxious) developing personality, traumatic experiences (e.g. violence, injuries) and a lifestyle shaped by them (avoidance, withdrawal). Even if one American study from 2013 has shown that negative experiences can be inherited biologically, inherited dispositions are not necessarily and solely responsible for the exaggerated development of feelings of anxiety.

If you consciously deal with your fears and are emotionally able to rationally question cause and effect, you can Learn how to deal with your fears. If you want to delve deeper into it, then I recommend the book “The basic forms of fear” by Fritz Rieman, a psychoanalyst. He distinguishes between the fear of surrender (the schizoid personalities), the fear of becoming oneself (the depressed personalities), the fear of change (the obsessive personalities) as well as the fear of necessity (the hysterical personalities).

dealing with fear

A widespread fear is, for example, that of spiders. Currently easy to observe in the spread of the Nosferatu spiders in this country. This is more of a metaphysical fear that you’re familiar with, for example exposure therapy can meet. The underlying fear does not represent a real life-threatening threat – unless you have a pronounced allergy to animal poison.

Rather, the fear of spiders comes from your imagination. Just as faith can literally move mountains, your (unreal) ideas can also create fears. For this count too Fear of lightning and thunder, of darkness, of illness or of heights. Unfortunately, head cinema is as effective as reality. That’s why horror and scary movies work so well.

In comparison, there are real evolutionary biological fear. Right now, in view of the current economic and ecological developments, great fears about the future are spreading. Livelihoods are threatened because the job is at risk or has already been lost. The increased cost of living for food, energy (gas) and mobility (petrol) is beyond every household budget and endangers the roof over your head. Floods, heat waves, fires and droughts destroy crops and habitats at the same time. These fears are rooted in reality. To meet and withstand them requires a very strong resilienceconfidence and courage to face life.

You can find help here

Whether your fears are “only” based on your imagination or have a real reason, in both cases this is not pleasant for you and is not subject to any value. Depending on the form, intensity and nature of your perceived fears, there are many different ways to counter them. Sometimes supportive advice from family or friends, low-threshold seminars or relevant literature can help.

In other cases, however professional help, eg in the form of a Psychotherapy, appropriate. Important signs are the restrictions you feel related to your work or everyday life. Here can also additionally medication used when, for example, the production of serotonin is inhibited. Whether and to what extent such therapy will help you is best discussed with your doctor first family doctor or your family doctor.

reading tip: What to do when children are afraid of school?

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