Many varied things can cause fear in humans. However, the real fear and terror are immediately felt when an individual is exposed or threatened by an impending danger that may cause possibly unbearable pain or death.
In severe anxiety state, the colour of the person will become yellowish because the blood rushes from the surface of the body to the internal organs and the hands and legs will shake uncontrollably, failing to perform their natural function. Furthermore, the person may lose the ability to think properly to the extent of failing to find a solution to rescue oneself from the frightening object or situation. This condition would disturb the body humour, causing them to function abnormally.
Fear is the emotion that scares and agitates and shows itself in the external behaviour of the person and the facial features. Fear can have adverse effects on the body and such disturbances if not checked can have extremely serious physical consequences.
Extreme fear can lead to terror or panic. The terror develops from the fear that overwhelms a person if one thinks or imagines a scary thing or if one actually sees or experiences it.
Terror is an extreme form of fear, since not everything or every situation that causes fear would reach the level of terror or panic. What terrorizes a person and agitates the soul is something that is quite threatening to the individual, that one thinks about or hears or sees.
To cause terror or panic, the alarming object or frightening situation must be either directly perceived or expected to turn up or occur in a short time. It must be perceived by the senses before fear and terror can take hold of an individual.
A fearful object or occurrence that is not directly observed or that is expected to take place after a long time would not cause fear but rather distress and worry. For example, thinking about unquestionable impending issues of becoming old and dying, one may feel dejected and sad, but not afraid and anxious. Similarly, one would not be frightened by hearing of a fearful thing that may be far away.
The modern theory of autonomic liability or reactivity states that there are individual differences between peoples’ autonomic responses to anxiety-provoking stimuli. Those who are very reactive are predisposed to develop anxiety disorders more than those with a comparatively less reactive autonomic nervous system and that this is an inherited trait.
So there are differences between people in the way they respond to fearful things. Some are by nature strong in the temperament. Their hearts are not greatly disturbed by sudden or scary encounters. On the other hand, there are those whose disposition is so reactive that they may become stunned and rendered unable to think of any way out.
When an individual behaves in this way, tactics of calm thinking or advice can’t help, because the behaviour will be dominated by the instinctive natural response to flee. It is only when the individual is able to listen and weigh matters sensibly that the mental manoeuvres and external means can be helpful.
As discussed in the earlier artifcles, that the emotional overreactions overtime become a habit, turning an individual to be neurotic. These emotional disorders may be simply a learned behaviour. Most of the times personal change is the only cure for these symptoms and this process can be best considered as educational rather than therapeutic.
So learn to relax. Deep Breathing and muscle relaxation exercises are very effective.
Ignorance concerning the real nature of things is behind most human fears and terrors and that educating regarding the same will help to heal.
Realize that “most of what you fear will not harm you” and “most of the terror comes from the anticipation of the terror”. In most cases, the fear created by the expectation of a threatening experience is much greater than the real experience itself, if it actually occurs. Most of what an individual is afraid of, are not really harmful as one expects.
Most of our fears are exaggerated and unfounded. When one experiences the things and situations one fears, one would discover that the experience once thought fearful was not really different from other occurrences that one dealt with effectively. Exaggeration is one of the major forms of faulty thinking that leads to anxiety and depression.
An individual must realize that one has a number of mental manoeuvres that one can use to heal fear and terror or at least to reduce their effect, but if one allows oneself to succumb to fear and panic, one will not be in a position to benefit from these thought tactics. Don’t let one overcome by fear to the extent of falling into the trap that one wishes to save oneself from.
One can tranquillize one’s fear through observation of the behaviour of those having successfully dealt with fear-evoking situations similar to ones that one expects to face.
Another useful tactic to neutralize fear is to invoke another emotion against one’s fearful behaviour. According to Abu-Zayd Al-Balkhi, there is no way to fight fear and terror that is more effective than arousing pride and self-importance. Pride is the motive that strengthens the hearts of the victims.
Expose one to the harmless things and situations which one is fearful of. Repeated exposure leads to familiarity and habituation. Unlike animals, humans can overcome their ignorance and such infantile dread through maturity and experience.
Al-Balkhi proposes that the best methods for tranquillizing fear and panic are to acquire much knowledge and information of the fearsome things, to restructure one’s thinking and to force oneself to repeatedly expose oneself to such noxious things, though disliking the practice, until an individual gets habituated.
Seek external help. One may need counselling and therapy to cope with one’s fears.