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What is Fear?

Painted+by+alumni+Reanna+Maiden
Painted by alumni Reanna Maiden

Painted by alumni Reanna Maiden

Painted by alumni Reanna Maiden

by Carnell Lyon, Staff Writer

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“There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” the famous quote from 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, given at his first inaugural address and the same cliché line you hear in almost every cheesy horror film you decide to binge on, but what is it really saying? Don’t be afraid—that’s all there is to it, but what does it means to be afraid?

From an emotional perspective, fear is the sensation of impending doom. It comes in many forms: worry, anxiety, nervousness, and terror. When you’re scared to look at your test knowing fully well, you just took the L of a lifetime; when you’re frightened to look the TV screen, anxiously waiting for the waterloo of one your favorite characters—this is all fear.

Psychologists and neurologists specify this sensation that most of us feel from time to time. According to Psychologists Today, “fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel anything we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.” In other words, fear is a necessary evil. In order to avoid danger, we must know when something is dangerous and fear does exactly this.

When we feel we are in danger, the amygdala, the fear center of the brain located in the medial temporal lobe, immediately fires rapid signals that tells the body to be on high alert. Everything goes off, a near instantaneous chain reaction: the muscles tense up, ‘dry mouth’ (when saliva is no longer produced), profuse sweating, increased heart rate and blood pressure, heightened brain activity; nervous system, cardiovascular, and muscular skeletal. Doesn’t this all sound fantastic?

The only thing one can do to ward off these symptoms is to be self-aware. Unfortunately, one can’t pop a few Fear-Be-Gone pills; there’s no such thing. Find the root cause and make it less scary. How this is done depends on the person. The symptoms of a fear response are homogeneous for all, however, fear is relative to the one experiencing it. Having a crippling panic attack due to your severe, seemingly inescapable, arachnophobia, then somehow make the creepy crawler less-menacing. Maybe give the thing a tutu (or never mind that’s like 10 times scarier). It’s difficult because we are biologically predisposed to have this response, but as much of a platitude as this sounds—control your fear and don’t let fear control you.

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The student news site of McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia
What is Fear?