What is fear? Fear, you know that creeping emotion that comes over you every so often. That emotion that grips you like a bear trap every time you go through the lunch line, every time Mr. Harris passes out one of his tests and you haven’t studied, and every single time Mr. Luker comes over the PA to deliver the announcements? That little emotion is called fear, or in some cases, nausea, or both, depending what kind of person you are. Fear is one of the strongest emotions known to man, and it can provoke bravery in tough situations, or it can cause us to cower in, well… fear.
Fear is classified as an innate emotion, alongside other emotions like anger, joy, or sadness. There are several described causes of fear, including certain traumatic experiences that may have occurred. For example, if you fell into a cave filled with bats, you might develop a fear of bats. This might also lead you to fight crime and avenge others as a superhero, but that’s an entirely different multi million franchise entirely. The first use of the word fear as the noun to describe a sense of terror was around 1290 in a medieval work written in Old English. Fear can also be attributed to be a cause of learning of something, as in the case of the Little Albert Experiment. In the experiment, an 11 year old boy was “trained” to be afraid of a white lab rat. There are several different classifications of fear, almost different levels. Sure we can look at fear on different levels in the way of “How Afraid Are You”, 1 being puppies frolicking in a meadow, 10 being “Holy Cow I Think Lucifer Himself is at my Doorstep”, but I’m afraid there is a more scientific classification. There is paranoia, in which one person may have a heightened perception of persecution, with or without cause. This may be caused by some sort of compulsion, disorder, or may lead to a phobia. There’s also Distrust, which is not a loss of faith in someone, but is more like a sense of caution, like you feel before you read these editorials. Finally, there’s terror, which is the fear most of us are accustomed with. It’s the sense of panic that comes over us when approached by something we are afraid of or an extreme phobia. It can overwhelm the person and become so much that the person makes irrational choices. It has even been shown that extreme fear in certain circumstances can lead to death in the form of cardiac arrhythmia, literally being “scared to death”.
Fear is such a prominent part of life. People flock to theaters to see the latest movie about some serial killer trapping some more teens at a summer camp; thousands go to theme parks just to be scared out of their minds by huge drops, loops, and spins on the latest thrill ride. Fear is such a large part in media as well. It can serve as a wonderful prop for villains in our favorite TV shows, or be a basis for ourfavorite comics. Villains like Jonathon Crane a.k.a. the Scarecrow in the Batman series uses fear to intoxicate and paralyze his opponents, when he is nothing more than a normal psychologist with knowledge of the human mind. Supervillains like Benjamin “Knox” Washinton on Heroes use the fear in their enemies to strengthen themselves.
As I stated earlier, Fear is one of the strongest emotions known to man. Although at times it can paralyze us and cause us to run, screaming in terror, at other times if we can confront, overcome, and control the fear, it can give us that much needed adrenaline rush, and even strengthen us to do something we’ve always been afraid to do.