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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What is fear?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30339points) June 20th, 2010

There is the famous Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs that starts with breathing, food, and other physiological needs and ends with self-actualizations. Are fears rooted in satisfying our physical needs? Is there are hierarchy of fears, too?

I’ve heard many people say they feel empty, like they have a hole inside themselves which they don’t know how to fill. Is this just an extension of hunger?

Is fear an absence of love?

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14 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

The “flight or fight” syndrome. It’s a survival characteristic. If our ancestors had no fear of say, tigers, we would never have been.

cookieman's avatar

Being stuck in rush-hour traffic after having eaten a bran muffin and a large coffee.

I kid.

Fear, to me, is a natural reaction to a threatening or unknown situation. It’s a survival mechanism.

Trillian's avatar

“For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the over prudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”

Kahlil Gibran

Scooby's avatar

Fear is “an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” Fear is completely natural and helps people to recognize and respond to dangerous situations and threats. However, healthy fear or fear which has a protective function can on occasion evolve into unhealthy or pathological fear, which can lead to exaggerated and violent behaviour :-/

aprilsimnel's avatar

Real fear is the reaction sentient beings have to an immediate threat to their continued existence.

Any other uncomfortable feelings we have with regard in perceiving an emotional or psychological threat for which we use the word “fear” is actually anxiety.

Or so I reckon.

Coloma's avatar

The emptiness is the ‘God hole’....part of the higher self actualization…( or self realization used in spiritual terms. )

It is part of our spiritual ‘needs’ that come to the forefront after all the base survival needs have been met.

Those that deny this experience a lot of existential angst and keep searching outside themselves for some sense of wholeness and completion through ‘more’.
Money, titles, relationships, things….instead of putting the focus within..discovering their true essence which is already complete and eternal.

anartist's avatar

Fear is anything that makes you go against your better judgment to “protect yourself.”
Often such a choice will leave one in a worse situation, and increase the fear.
Fear is something that, until you stand up to it, pushes you along a dark path, away from the light.

gasman's avatar

Humans, unlike all other creatures, have the ability to project and visualize the future consequences of present conditions. Surely that plays a major role in fear. Our well-being is threatened long before or after the presence of an actual threat. (This is more-or-less a restatement of @aprilsimnel‘s answer.)

I don’t see that fear is the absence of love, however, as suggested in the question. In fact I don’t really see any connection between fear and love or that they are in any sense opposites.

anartist's avatar

@gasman one fear may be loss of love, loss of support, loss of protection

IsthmusCrypticus's avatar

Although the hierarchy is a theoretical idea, i think fear itself stems from not one or the other of the various stages in becoming self actualized but from all of them. Along with physiological satisfaction, you also have the need for safety (low perception of safety would lead to an underlying fear of ones own protection and security, perhaps increase vulnerability), love and belonging (can increase fear by isolation and loneliness – and potentially reduce self esteem and self worth), and then onto self esteem (fear will stem from our confidence – fears of not being able to achieve our goals and aspirations). But for me personally, there would need to be a collapse in all of these stages for an overwhelming fear to develop. All of these principles are interrelated – looking at them, one leads to the other, which leads to the other. For instance – physiology: you mention the example of fear stemming from not being able to feed oneself. The fear would only exist is ones safety needs collapsed too (they know they dont have a secure source of food), belonging (the individual knows or feels that they are alone in their suffering and no one is able to help them with their suffering and need for food) and then esteem (the individual personally does not have the confidence in themselves to find a solution to the problem). For me, this would be a better means of how fear would develop: not from an isolated need, but a universal collapse within all of the needs humans beings need to feel a sense of actualization.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Fear is the absence of love.

Coloma's avatar

Then, there is anxiety, which is false ‘fear.’

The minds ability to create fear from nothing and thrust the physical body into a fight or flight reaction when there is, infact, really nothing to fight or flee from. lol

It is the minds imagination futurizing, catastrophizing and inventing unpleasant scenarios that do not exist in reality, and maybe never will.

The great ‘what if’ scene that mind is so famous for writing volumes of fictitious stories about. haha

Who was it that said…( Sam Clemens? ) that everything they ever worried about never came to pass.

This is where watching mind is the most important ‘work’ we can do.

Stopping the stories when they arise.

It is amazing how one can be safe in their bed, all needs satisfied, and yet, through their mindmade anxieties have their bodies whipped into a frenzy as if there was a lion crouching at the foot of their beds ready to pounce. haha

I am grateful that I do not suffer from random anxieties and am able to catch my thoughts before they spiral out of control and write disaster novels that ramp up my heart rate to about 200 beats per minute.

It is important to conserve ones heartbeats for the fun stuff life has to

mattbrowne's avatar

The release of adrenaline.

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