What are you running away from?

in #fear8 months ago (edited)

Are you trying to escape from being alone, from other people, or from what you feel?

Fear is one of the primary emotional systems according to neuroscience, Jaak Panksepp lists 7 of them, seeking, rage, fear, panic/grief, care, and lust. From an evolutionary perspective, fear has the function of protecting us and keeping us away from threats that may affect our survival. Whenever a mammal encounters fear he has two options, to fight or to escape.

(Fear located in the brain, according to neuroscience)

While fear and rage protect us from threatening situations, other emotional systems, such as seeking, lust, or play, bring us nearer to others and to the world.

Fear is mostly a learning process and this is why what we fear varies a lot from person to person. Every person has different experiences with fear throughout their lives. But there are other fears which can be innate. For example, mice are born with the evolutionary tool of being scared of cats. If they came across a cat for the first time, that would result in death. As they do not have enough time to learn from this, they have that fear built in them. However as it is difficult to test, theorists do not seem to agree on whether or not humans are born with some innate fear.

When the primary system of fear does not work properly, it results in post-traumatic stress. This occurs in people who have suffered or have been exposed to extreme physical or emotional violence which causes a sensibilization of the fear emotional system in a way that it is always present and never goes away.

Different types of fear when we are in a relationship.

  1. Fear of being abandoned, of being alone
    It is the fear of not being able to survive on our own. It has its origin in childhood, Freud says that this fear has left a strong mark on us and that we carry it throughout our whole life. Even though it is not an episodic memory, it is an emotional lesson that has been recorded in our unconscious. So, later in life, when we encounter a situation that reminds us of that abandonment, fear comes back.
    There are many different ways we can react to that feeling, some people may become aggressive because they are angry others could potentially abandon them, others may do anything to please others or others may decide simply not to interact with people anymore.

  2. Fear of others
    People who have been in very aggressive and abusive relationships have fear of suffering from that violence in the future. Post-traumatic stress is an example of this.

  3. Fear of what we feel
    While there are many people who live all their lives looking after falling in love, there are many others who fear this and want to avoid it at all costs. In this case, fear comes from the inside and threatens our integrity.
    Regardless of what type of fear we may feel identified with, it is important to remember that pain causes fear, so the pain of being abandoned, abused o feeling we are not in control causes fear that may condition our actions in the future. Trying to understand why we feel a certain way may help us create more tools to use during times of adversity.


Panksepp, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions.
Panksepp, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions.
Freud, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety.
Bollas, Hysteria.

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