What is Fear? The Psychology Behind Fear

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This particular term is so soul-searching and is a great obstacle to all the beautiful things life is capable of gifting us. Have we ever given it a thought that how would we live if we were not aware of this unpleasant emotion? Every good thing is on the other side of fear. It has the power to control us more than we can ever imagine, it shatters our confidence and closes golden doors of opportunities.

What is Fear?

Fear is a strong, negative emotion which actually does not exist in reality, it is a figment of our imagination capable of restricting our actions or behaviour. It is closely related with anxiety (underlying negative thoughts). Example “This may happen to me if I do this”.

Fear and Anxiety

Fear is triggered by underlying negative thoughts. Example-Your boss is not in a good mood, and you have learnt about this from your colleagues, negative thoughts come to your mind (If i approach him for my work, he may not sign my file, he may get angry, he might behave rudely with me), you start getting tensed and before even you are aware, it might trigger fear in you, and no matter how important your work is, you will want to avoid it, you will look for excuses to delay your work. Whatever we fear, we don’t want to face it (fear object). A professional advice from BetterHelp can help you overcome your fear and anxiety.

Fear is a Learnt Behaviour

In this case you have probably experienced the negative emotion when you came in contact with the stimulus/stimuli provoking fear in you or you have seen it happening with somebody else, or probably your authority figures have taught you to be afraid of that particular object or situation.

Fear and Phobia

Example-You are afraid of dogs because you had been bitten by it once. This type of fear can lead into a phobia.

Fear starts augmenting = PHOBIA

Authority Figures Teaching You Something To Fear

Example-The concept of ghost (man-made) and religion (be afraid of God’s punishment when you commit a sin) are informal means of social control. This helps to instil fear in people in order to restrict a particular behaviour which will not be good or can harm people at large.

You Have Seen It Happening

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Here,the negative emotion is being experienced by someone else.

Example-“My mother feared my father as she was subjected to domestic violence which made me afraid of my father as well”.

Fear And Love

We often say that fear and love cannot go hand in hand, but it’s a myth and I will show you why. We all fear to lose our loved ones and we do not want to be away from them. Love is a positive, strong force capable of bringing out the best in you, we say that love is selfless but what is love? Love (though unconditional) is the need to be loved by someone with whom you feel a strong connection, sense of security or peace, the need to receive love could be from anyone, your mom, dad or partner.

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On the other hand,fear stems from a strong sense of insecurity. But can we say that we are not at all insecured about our loved ones or we haven’t faced any situation which has triggered this particular, negative emotion (fear/insecurity) associated with our loved ones. Example-A girl trusts his partner but after two days of not being able to contact him, insecurity (latent) will now start to surface when she sees him posting pictures on social media, later when she is finally able to establish contact with him, she will be relieved and her insecurity will start to wane away.

But, this latent insecurity should not come to the surface and we must learn how to control our mind because nothing but overthinking (negative thoughts) lead to insecurities. 

Fear And Insecurity


Past Bad Experiences –> Trust Issues –> Overthinking –> Insecurity (Latent Fear To Lose)

Need For Love (Extensive Void) –> Overthinking –> Insecurity (Latent Fear To Lose)


Sometimes,our insecurities can even hinder the process of growth (cognitive, spiritual) for us, narrowing our mind and restricting our behaviour patterns. But let us understand that your insecurity is nothing but fear. 

Freedom Is The Opposite Of Fear

You free your mind from fear and you are no more a prisoner of your past bad experiences, anxiety, insecurities and overthinking. You are ready to face every situation with valour. Life is unpredictable so fear cannot shield us from the negative situations based on our assumptions or presumptions.



Caution is not repeating the same mistake twice, being aware of the bad effect a situation or an object can bring to you, you are sure about it, you take necessary steps to prevent the unpleasant situation or object,you deal with it. You don’t avoid it. It does not trigger unpleasant emotions in you (fear), you remain confident. Example-You know that it is better to keep a bunker in your house if you live in a earthquake prone zone (caution).

Three Irresistible Fear:

  1. Fear of Death (We all want to live)

2. Fear to become lonely (Man cannot live in isolation)

3. Fear of the unknown (It may harm us)

        However,whatever may be the reason of your fear, you need to understand that you cannot hold on to something which doesn’t bring out the best in you, it triggers all the negative thoughts and emotions and if you think that you can change any situation by associating yourself with negativity, you are fooling yourself. Fear is miles away from any positive element of life. Face your fears,do something what you fear to do but don’t stay stuck there, you need make your mind flexible not stagnant. Let go of the negative experiences you have had, derive the knowledge not any negative emotion from it, learn to be cautious but do not be afraid of anything in life, as life is uncertain itself and change is the only constant, so what are we afraid of? Think,reflect and understand.

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Archita Ghosh
Archita Ghosh
Apsiring psychologist,having a profound interest in devising solutions to various mental health disorders.Seeker of truth and enriching experiences.

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