Fear has many faces. But why are we afraid?

Fear is a good quality in itself, because it helps us to act correctly in threatening situations and thus to survive. It is a normal reaction to danger. In the past, for example, the sight of a tiger or a bear triggered fear, which was followed by a flight response, or the person facing the danger drew a weapon to defend himself. Today, on the other hand, people often focus on social fears or the fear of natural disasters. But uncontrollable events and situations that still occur despite the most modern technology are also frequent triggers of fear.



The year is 2021 and the prevailing fear worldwide is the fear of the Corona virus, which can be felt almost permanently through restrictions in the sphere of life of every individual. Which slow-term consequences this will have, that is not yet absehrbar. It remains to hope that this spook will soon be over, because not only Corona exists, the fears of the people are manifold.

Fear has many faces and sometimes manifests itself in situations in which there is no acute threat. There are various approaches as to why this fear arises. On the one hand, people learn fear from negative experiences, which can become entrenched. But it can also arise from incorrect learning patterns from the environment. Some are also of the opinion that fear can be inherited simply expressed. These types of fear and anxiety are classified as anxiety disorders and should be treated.

No solution is permanent avoidance of situations that cause fear or anxiety. Avoiding certain situations may alleviate the consequences of the anxiety in the short term, but the anxiety or anxiety trigger remains and sometimes becomes entrenched. Behavioural experiments are therefore one of the most commonly used forms of therapy. In so-called confrontation therapy, for example, the person concerned is exposed to certain situations that trigger his or her fear and can lead to the associated physical reactions such as trembling, heart palpitations or increased breathing rate, but also to physical numbness. Through confrontation, new positive learning processes are supposed to emerge and thus the fear-triggering old learning patterns are finally eliminated. This process takes time and is sometimes supported by the use of medication. Another part of many therapies is learning relaxation methods.

However, fear or the feeling of fear is also played with. People sometimes want to experience the physical symptoms that are triggered by fear. For many people, the so-called adrenaline rush leads to a very special physical feeling that they do not want to miss. You could call it controlled fear, because the apparent danger can simply be switched off in an emergency, as in horror films, for example. In recreational activities such as bungee jumping or skydiving, the danger or risk is minimised through the use of technology, but as in these two cases, jumping into the depths requires overcoming fear. Ghost trains also exist because people like to be spooked and get goosebumps.

But fear is also a driving force that has led to new developments. The clearest example is perhaps the development of modern weapons. But research into alternative energies is also based to a certain extent on fear. In a way, fear is something we are born with. For death is certain for all of us. It’s just that no one knows exactly when it will come. However, the fear of death should not influence life in a negative way, but rather prompt each individual to make the best possible use of the limited time available to us. According to the motto: What can happen to me, I can’t do more than die. So enjoy life and free yourself from your fears. But remain vigilant, because even in this day and age there are many hidden dangers lurking, whereby normal fear still helpfully stands by us as a warning instrument.