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Fears in today's society: should we control them?

Fears in today's society: should we control them?

October 1, 2022

During the last two decades, and The pace of life in society has accelerated greatly , so much that it could be said that the philosophy of the current human being has become to achieve all kinds of objectives immediately, whether they are of a material or non-tangible nature.

At first glance, this significant level of motivation can seem positive to achieve a (supposed) greater well-being (a better job, a perfect family or couple, enviable leisure activities, the maximum number of friendships or contacts in social networks, etc. .). However, when you lose sight of the balance between this motivation and the excess of self-demand, all this can lead to an opposite effect: the fears and continuing worries .


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Fear and control

In his work, Guix (2006) notes the narrow link between the existence of fears and the need to control the different personal aspects that make up the individual's life, establishing a direct relationship between both: a greater desire to control more fears, worry and more anxiety.

It seems that, internally, the obligation to "reach" everything that has been proposed and can not "fail" in any of the projects initiated .

Is it good to be afraid?

The answer is clearly yes. Fear is defined as being one of the most necessary primary emotions for survival, therefore highly functional. In the past, this reaction allowed the escape of wild creatures activating the organism and mobilizing it for flight.


Today, having evolved the context, the human being still needs a warning system for potential hazards whose main exponent is the human being itself. Thus, the emotion of fear must be understood as a natural and adaptive phenomenon. What is truly relevant, the key point where attention must fall, is in the management of that reaction and how the fear is managed.

Guix (2006) argues that man has adopted the wrong strategy of exercising control as the main mechanism in coping with concerns. This methodology has several drawbacks, since control can be done relatively easily on "things", but it is not as simple to perform the same process when other people are involved, such as occurs in the field of social relations .

When the rest of people who from the near context do not respond as one would expect, among other emotions, a reaction of fear occurs. This, usually, leads clearly to the development of a feeling of distrust which whose dent in the individual directly or indirectly conditions other present and future interpersonal relationships.


Because of this, such subject adopts such distrust as a defense mechanism against the appearance of suffering , ceasing to be aware of his incipient emotional distance from his social environment that is gradually growing.

  • Related article: "What is the use of fear?"

Fear vs. Security or Comfort (Control)

Exercising a certain level of control can be beneficial since makes it possible to increase self-confidence ; The fact of preserving a certain order in the different life facets is related to a positive self-concept.

The control generates a sense of security, since it is usually linked to a psychological state of comfort, a state of comfort. However, by adopting this type of philosophy, the individual will have every time the need to control more aspects to maintain this level of subjective security, being immersed in an endless and infinite escalation of sources of concern that will require immediate domination.

It seems obvious to think that the greater the desire for security, greater is the fear of their loss . Thus, uncertainty (the difference between expectation and reality) ceases to be a tolerable phenomenon and becomes an entity to be avoided at all costs. The problem lies in the impossibility of eliminating this uncertainty, since it is something intrinsic to the future, to the future time, as defends Nardone (2012), an expert psychologist in the field.

Choosing a philosophy of life

For all the above, the individual has to choose between both alternatives: choose comfort or choose to overcome fears and concerns.

From the start, the first option emotionally relieves the subject , since that unpleasant sensation such as fear or discomfort is avoided. However, choosing this path in the long term leads to greater psychological distress.On the other hand, the second, more complex option to put into practice does succeed in breaking the aforementioned fear-control-anxiety-avoidance spiral.

To achieve this goal they should modify nuclear beliefs, behavior patterns learned and generalized attitudes regarding the source object of such fear.

Types of fears

Guix (2007) in his work distinguishes between real fears (when there is a real threat to physical survival, for example being trapped in a fire) and psychological fears (where psychological survival is the one that is compromised, for example the fear of flying by plane). The latter can be classified as:

  • Built fears, based on mental emotions elaborated mentally.
  • Fears remembered, reactions derived from past experiences.
  • Existential fears, relating to life and death.
  • Fear of the unconscious

They all have in common that they have an object they refer to , an object that is known and that is afraid of getting lost, be it a relationship of a couple to which one belongs (regardless of whether it is satisfactory or not), the preservation of life in the event of a car accident or any other circumstance I could put her in danger.

The first two are linked more closely with the capacity of the human being create something initially non-existent , which ends up living as something real, as something that is truly happening.

Overcoming insecurity

Below you can see a series of reflections and indications that Guix (2006) proposes in his work as antidote measures against the fear virus and concerns:

1. Self-knowledge

The first step that must be done is to ask oneself whether one wishes to overcome these fears or not. Although it seems an obvious question, one of the main obstacles that the individual must overcome is choose the desire to face your own fears . It may be the case, however, that the person prefers to subtract in their comfort zone (the fact of staying in their already known fears) avoiding exploring themselves.

This self-knowledge means and implies uncertainty ("will I be able to handle what I am going to discover?" Or "do I want to make the effort to change?"). The decision between taking the path between security and the absence of fear is one of the most costly and determining barriers that must be overcome.

2. Identification of fears

Another of the reflections that must be carried out refers to learning to identify what kind of fear (or fears) are present and what function are they fulfilling in the person's life in question. The fact of getting such fear to stop being functional is another basic milestone in the process.

3. Balance "doing" with "being"

It is worth reflecting on what kind of aspects have more repercussions on the emotional well-being of the human being: the instrumental-material or rather the spiritual-intangible. For this, it is fundamental reverse the principles on which the current social organization is based , capitalism, downplaying the achievements and competitiveness to give them to the aspects of being and life in community.

4. Acceptance and tolerance of uncertainty

The belief that everything is under control it's just an illusion built mentally to generate serenity: it is only a belief, not a reality, and that can generate frustration.

This has the advantage that, being something developed by oneself, it could be dismantled in the same way as it was created. However, the fact that this belief was precisely one's own harvest, causes greater complexity to the individual in the company's elimination. I mean, you could say that the person becomes fond of their own beliefs , although these are maladaptive.

On the other hand, it seems necessary to embrace tolerance to the unknown and to becoming, as something natural and intrinsic to the life of man. And this combined with the limitation in the setting of excessive expectations about such uncertainty. Finally, the acceptance of oneself as being that can (and "must") make mistakes, the permission to fail or "not to arrive", becomes another of the core beliefs that must be worked in combination with the above.

Bibliographic references:

  • Guix, X. (2007): Disconnect yourself! Ed. Granica: Barcelona.
  • Nardone, G. (1995): Fear, panic, phobias. Ed. Herder: Barcelona.
  • Nardone, G., De Santis, G and Salvat Farré, P. (2012): I think, then I suffer. Ed. Paidós: Barcelona.

Fear and Social Control (October 2022).


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