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What is the use of fear?

What is the use of fear?

April 27, 2024

Fear is only a problem when you are afraid of your fears

The fear is probably the most popular human emotion in recent times, especially since the social networks They became our main means of communication. We share videos and phrases about fear and we constantly tell ourselves that we should not be afraid, we bet for a life without fear, we consider him our worst enemy. What would happen if the human being were never afraid?

Fear is one of the most basic emotions of the human being, as well as of any mammal. It is an emotion that plays a fundamental role: survival . What would happen if we lived without fear? There is only one possibility: we would die. Without fear, we would live so recklessly that we would endanger our lives and die within a few days of not being afraid. Fear has a very important use in our life. Our big problem with fear is that we coexist with dysfunctional fears.


Let's dig a little deeper into what this instinctive emotion is and what it is for.

What is fear?

According to experimental psychology, there are six primary emotions: joy, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear . The experiments find these six emotions since they find six different facial expressions, although there are many more emotions depending on the culture and the vocabulary with which we describe those emotions.

Fear, however, is a basic and primary emotion, since it is found in all cultures and feeling it has great consequences on the organism. It is an unpleasant emotion , because it makes us feel bad (although not negative, since feeling emotions is always positive, whatever they may be). It is also a passive emotion, since it tries to withdraw us from what happens. When we feel fear, it also leads us to feel helpless. What happens when we feel fear, is that we withdraw.


What is the use of fear? Functions and effects

Fear is often characterized as a negative emotion, something to be avoided and linked to unhappiness. However, the truth is that if fear is an emotion present in virtually all cultures that have been studied, it is possible to infer that it is there for something. Does it fulfill any relevant function? What is the use of fear?

In short, fear serves to survive, it is an adaptive mechanism to an environment that, at times, gives us reasons to fear it. That which serves the fear has to do with our ability to react quickly to dangerous situations, because thanks to him we withdraw when there is a threat. This threat can be for our life, or for our self-esteem, our security (according to our beliefs about what is safe or not), our self-concept.


So fear is only an emotion that reacts according to our mental patterns, our beliefs and thoughts. Fear in itself is positive, it helps us to get away from an event for which we are not yet prepared .

You may be interested in this post: "Why do we like horror movies?"

When is fear a problem?

Fear is a problem when it is dysfunctional . It is important to clarify that there are no positive or negative emotions (this is said in manuals where, what is intended, is the psychological diagnosis and those orthodox and mistaken concepts are still used). Feeling emotions is positive, it is always positive to feel any emotion, since they have some kind of usefulness and we should feel our emotions with freedom instead of repressing them or trying to control them.

The problem, with any emotion, is when our beliefs and interpretations cause us to feel fear dysfunctional, that is, what happens as a result of feeling that fear is even worse than what would happen if we did not feel it. Example: many times we do not do what we want and it is really important in our life because we are afraid of what may happen (travel, go to another country to live, start a business of their own, start a relationship, do something new for our own media, public speaking, dancing in front of other people, etc.).

If we manage our fear in a dysfunctional way, it will slow us down too much. Remember: fear is not a problem, it just obeys us ... The problem is what we do with fear .

Things that cause us fear (phobias)

There are several aspects of life (situations, ideas, objects ...) that generate fear for many people . Below is a list of different phobias; by clicking on the title you can access a detailed report on each of them.

  • Agoraphobia (anticipatory anxiety)
  • Amaxophobia (panic to drive cars)
  • Anuptophobia (fear of remaining single)
  • Coulrophobia (fear of clowns)
  • Erythrophobia (panic to blush)
  • Filofobia (fear of falling in love)
  • Gerascofobia (fear of aging)
  • Hematophobia (panic to the blood)

And for a more general review about the different phobias that exist and their characteristics, you can visit this article:

  • Types of phobias: exploring fear disorders

How important is fear?

Fear is such an important emotion, that we could not live without her . Our happiness and well-being depends on the decisions we make in our lives and how we interpret what happens. We are responsible for being well and making our life a fascinating experience.

Fear helps us to regulate how great our steps must be at every moment ... as a kind of prudent mother. Again, this happens when we manage our fear in a functional way, that is, we have some fear towards what can really be a problem for us now and we still need a training time or wait to be able to face it.

How should we manage it?

Ask yourself what you would really like to do and do not do. What would you like to live and do not live. How would you like your life to be and do not do what it takes to get there. All those fears: what are they based on? In your beliefs? In a fact of the past? What could you do so that this fact will not affect you anymore?

A process of emotional management, to increase your level of emotional intelligence (which would help you manage your fear functionally and to understand others' and help them) is probably the best way to jump to dysfunctional fear. This note will not end with a "do not be afraid" ... but with a "Live big despite your fears" .


The Use of Fear (Psychology Audiobook) by Arthur Christopher Benson (April 2024).


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