The Science of Fear


Ana Rondeau, Staff Writer

We all have something that we are afraid of.  Something that keeps us up at night. A lot of times we wish it would go away.  But we almost never stop to think what exactly makes us afraid. Fear is one of the most primitive human emotions.  It may keep us alive, but a lot of times it makes us scared for almost no reason at all. The littlest of things can make us afraid, like if we simply don’t understand or can’t control something.  

All humans are scared of things like falling off cliffs or being attacked by a wild animal, these fears all animals have to keep us alive.  However, we also have what are called conditioned fears. These are fears that we have developed through a bad experience and are scared that it will happen again. Usually these fears are irrational, but your brain tricks into believing that this is sure to happen again. The same thing applies for scary movies or books.  When you watch a movie or read a book, you can’t help but empathize with the characters, so it feels almost like it’s happening to you. Like how it’s hard for you to watch or read a part of the book or movie where a character does something stupid or gets embarrassed. So when you read/watch a scary book or movie, you are afraid that what happened in the story will happen again to you.

You know how people act really stupid in horror movies and you just want to scream at them?  Well, you may want to cut them a little slack, because fear actually affects your ability to make rational decisions.  When your body senses danger, it immediately starts pumping blood to all your muscles incase you need to fight or run. So since all this blood and adrenaline is pumping through you, it’s almost impossible to make rational decisions.  This is why you should never make a big decision when you are taken off guard or are afraid.

Now that you have learned alot about fear, here are some ways to become less afraid if there is no need to be afraid.  If you are scared of something that is going to happen like a test, a presentation, going to the dentist, getting a shot, or going to a new school, the best way to not be afraid is making sure that you know what is going to happen.  Just keep recapping in you mind what is going to happen and what you are going to respond. Being prepared is very comforting. For other things, fear is born out of lack of control, so if you think about things that you can control, it will help you feel a lot better.  Another thing that helps is thinking of things that relax you are trying to talk yourself out of being afraid. Just keep telling yourself that you are safe and try to think of things that make you happy.