Is fear a normal feeling? Most people may still wonder if this kind of emotion, especially the extreme type of fear, is a normal though common experience in one’s life. Others may just ignore this feeling after a situation or danger is over.
Fear is a human experience felt for various reasons or causes. It is considered a defense mechanism essential against threats or danger. When a child for instance has no fear, he might rush into a situation that might hurt him or put him in danger or a very risky state. Fear allows one to be careful, and puts limit to what should be done. It is one of the child’s first emotions, and dangers posed by animals, objects and even people are sensed by him. One’s experiences allow him to learn what is danger or threat.
Where does fear come from? One article, excerpted from a book published by Anvil Publishing Inc., cited some sources of fear. One of these is fears of grownups that are conveyed to a child by way of stories or sayings, a common example of which is about ghosts. Another source is fearful experiences. When a dog attacks a person, he may develop fear of this animal. Trauma is also a source of fear. When one experiences violence, an assault on a loved one for instance, it creates a deep impact which becomes a root of fear. The fears of one’s family or those close to him may be another source. When a breadwinner of the family dies, the spouse usually faces fear because of insecurity due to dependence on the departed. This somehow translates to the child who becomes fearful too.
Many problems during childhood have been traced to fear. It is important that a child’s fear should be assessed if this has become serious as to affect his development. It is thus necessary to understand the root of a child’s fear to be able to correct any consequential problems and difficulties. These include: loss of security, as in the case of death; failure of significant relationship, where a child may be afraid of making mistakes lest his parents would no longer love him; unexpected events, where a change for instance in routine could create confusion and anxiety; confusing or puzzling situations, that may be beyond the child’s comprehension; danger, such as those that threaten life like natural disasters, violent persons, etc.; and, change or transition, like the first time to be in school which creates much apprehension in most kids.
In today’s society, there are incidents that may have caused fear in a person, particularly a victim. Rape, for example, is a violent assault and humiliation of a person. The victim experiences fear of being killed by the perpetrators, and more often than not, keeps silent because of the fear of reporting the assault that may also cause shame and humiliation. There is also that fear of hopelessness, judgment and rejection, wherein some people, including relatives, may look at the incident from a different plane, with blame also being hurled at the victim for not taking extra care. Another heartbreaking issue is that of incest, where the victim may also keep silent because of fear of repercussions from the rest of family members, or fear of chaos in the family. For the young victims, fear of punishment leads to silence besides such reasons as ignorance and parental obedience.
A form of fear is phobia, which is a persistent and strong fear of a certain object or situation. Psychoanalysts classify this as a mild psychological problem, where popular treatments like psychoanalysis and behavioral therapy are resorted to. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, believed that phobias are traced to unconscious desires, where bad desires accordingly are repressed by individuals. When the repressed feelings, psychoanalysts believe, are understood by the patient fully, he will be able to overcome such recurring emotion and may gradually disappear.
With this insight of fear, this emotion becomes more understandable, and those contending with it, from victim to family, to psychoanalysts, to counselors, by recognizing the underlying causes can lead to a better handling of its possible consequences. An article from “Health and Home” (March-April 1996 edition) mentioned that “fears recede as a child grows older, wiser and more confident, and he may eventually realize that there is nothing to fear”. More importantly, fear can be seen as a normal emotion like the rest.