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Friending Fear

How to view fear?


Fear can be a trigger for exploration and lead to insightful or inspiring projects.

But fear can also prevent any action.

I wonder, how to view fear? What does fear mean (if it does)? Where does it come from? Why?

My example. I walk through the woods. Suddenly I hear the branches cracking. Now, I want to run and hide. But why?

Is my body really feeling the fear? For a reason? Or is the mind remembering some trigger similar to this sound and situation that brings fear? If so, fear is imagination.

Can fear be healthy? And when?

Or is fear useless and is just a trick of the mind that is better to be un-learned?

This question is important not only on personal scale. Lets say I follow the fear in my example walking through the woods. So I run away home and hide, and avoid the forest from then on. But what if I turn fear into curiosity and stay in the woods? Then, I see a rare bird making a nest from branches (that sound I got scared of!)

Now apply that exercise to the humanity scale.


投票 (可選) (別通知) (可選)

我們的某些神經迴路是內置的,就像有些人看到美味的食物時不由自主地流涎,甚至在圖片中一樣,或者就像大多數人錯誤地感知像凹面一樣凸出,或者就像是異性一樣的形狀會引起人們的性刺激。同樣,恐懼感可能是一個人特定的神經迴路的潛意識結果。翻轉這種硬連線的恐懼症可能就像改變一個人的性取向一樣困難,或者像忘記將美味的食物圖片與實際食用的食物聯繫起來一樣簡單。例如,當人們看到食物圖片時,我沒有意識到他們會垂涎三尺!顯然,他們將食物圖片看成是真實的事物,並立即想象如果用舌頭觸摸食物會發生什麼,而我傾向於將食物圖片視爲對象,即,將它們視爲食物是要判斷和排序而不是品嚐的對象。 //我的例子我穿過樹林。突然我聽到樹枝開了。現在,我想躲起來。但爲什麼?對黑暗的恐懼是很理性的:思考所有可能在黑暗中潛伏的可能性!我們古老的大腦知道那裏可能有捕食者,而黑暗會阻止人體的各種自然和自動解釋和防禦系統(例如,基於視覺的威脅識別)正常工作:您需要將風險評估委託給前額葉皮質以緩解恐懼:)收集更多信息並提高您的理性,包括您知道的更多環境和語境因素。例如,也許外面很冷,大多數掠食者都在冬天冬眠中入睡,不敢攻擊你,或者也許你走的路是人們經常拜訪的,而你知道在這個地區,人們足夠的富裕,在寒冷的環境中等待傷害某人是任何人可能最後想到的事情,依此類推。

Some of our neural circuits are just built-in, just as some people involuntarily salivate when they see tasty food, even in pictures, or just like most people incorrectly perceive convex as concave surfaces, or just like shapes resembling people of opposite sex can make people sexually arouse.

Similarly, the sense of fear may be a subconscious result of one's particular neural circuitry. Flipping such hard-wired phobias may be as hard as changing one's sexual orientation, or as simple as forgetting to associate tasty food pictures with actual eating of food.

For example, I didn't realize that people salivate when they see pictures of food! Apparently, they look at the pictures of food as if they are the real thing, and immediately imagine what would happen if they touched it with their tongues, while I tend to look at food pictures as objects, i.e., looking at them as if it is an object to be judged and sorted rather than tasted.

// My example. I walk through the woods. Suddenly I hear the branches cracking. Now, I want to run and hide. But why?

The fear of darkness is quite rational: think of all the possibilities what may lurk in the darkness! Our ancient brain knows that there could be predators, and out there, and darkness prevents all kind of body's natural and automatic interpretation and defense systems (e.g., vision-based threat identification) to work properly: you need to delegate risk estimation to your prefrontal cortex to tame the fear :)

Collect more information and sharpen your rationality including more of the circumstantial and contextual factors you know. For example, perhaps it is so cold outside, that most predators are sleeping the winter hibernation and would not dare to attack you, or perhaps you're walking a path that's often visited by people, and you know that in this region, people are sufficiently well-off, that waiting in a frigid environment to harm someone is the last thing that could possibly be on anyone's mind, and so on.


Hello darkness my old friend~


Hmm [Mindey], I was also thinking in what cases it makes sense to flip Fear into Curiosity, because that leads to Exploration. So, on a humanity scale, such a simple exercise matters because more people would be curious.

Is all curiosity worth following? That's another sub-question.