Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by katina, Jul 14, 2018.
Fear is irrational but
may have a point.
Fear is only irrational if the thing you fear isn't actually harmful. Fear of spiders is usually irrational because most spiders are harmless. Fear of fire is rational because fire can kill you.
I don't know that I really fear anything. There are lots of things that make me anxious, but I don't think that's quite the same. My worst proper fear would probably be developing a degenerative neurological condition, like MND or dementia.
Most people have rational fears. I believe irrational fears are also known as an anxiety disorder.
I fear oblivion. It is coming. So what if it takes 120 billion years!
I have a very specific type of pediophobia (fear of dolls).
The realistic looking ones creep my shit.
Heights that can kill me.
Spoiler: If you must know.
Spoiler: It will surprise you when you find out.
Spoiler: Well If I can't stop you.
Spoiler: You will find it kinda Ironic.
Spoiler: At this point I am just delaying the inevitable.
Spoiler: Ok fine.
Pretty much what @mashers said. Losing my mental acuity is my biggest fear. My dad lost his and wound up blowing his brains out. I don’t blame him for that.
I’m sorry to hear that
So, old pictures with birdies in em?
I know what fear feels like, you do too. Most people do. But if we detach ourselves from the emotion for a second, it's pretty obvious that fear manifests in times of significance. It is a significant event to be eye to eye with a bear. Or to be burned by fire. Or to be killed by a poisonous spider. Irrational fear is what we call taking a fear too far. When you are afraid to be in the same room as a burning stove, then your fear is irrational. The emotion is telling you: "That over there is dangerous". Rational reaction to that:" Okay, so I just won't touch the stove then." Irrational reaction: "Oh my god! Anything can happen I'm going to get as far away from it as possible." So really, fear of things which CAN actually be dangerous are not irrational. Your reaction certainly can be irrational, but the fear isn't. It's fear of things like midgets which are irrational because midgets are actually pretty harmless. Sure, with training, they can probably punch you in the nuts with lightning speed and ferocity, but they are not a serious physical threat. Nor are they necessarily conniving. Like, they're alright people who are just very small. So, maybe you were attacked by one when you were very young and the fact that they're a very specific kind of entity left an impression on you. Thus, you carried that with you into adulthood and are terrified of midgets. The presence of that fear is truly irrational but you can, with therapy, train yourself to react rationally to it. So, in my opinion, the fear doesn't need to be described as either rational or irrational. The focus should really be in how you react to the fear.
So, furthermore, how can I tell you my worst fear right now? I am safe in my room. The only thing that comes to mind is the vague image of my death. I don't really feel afraid of it right now. I could maybe say the time I've been most afraid. Honestly, I was probably most afraid of asking a girl I liked out for the first time. But that was more of an anxiety. One night I was particularly worried about the possibility of armageddon and every time I heard a plane flying in the night, I really did feel a bit of fear. Of course, I knew it was ridiculous even as I was feeling it. But I felt it. Another night, when I first moved into my house which is in a city with a higher crime rate than the city I lived in before, I heard some sounds and was a little afraid someone might be trying to break in. But that wasn't happening actually.
Interesting take on it, thanks. I hadn't considered detaching the emotion from the response. Though, I would argue that there is always a response to fear. There is an autonomic response (elevated heart rate, heavy breathing etc), which I would argue is actually the emotion. Then there's the behavioural response, which may or may not be autonomic (fight/fight/freeze being mostly autonomic, or calmly removing oneself or using a calming strategy being voluntary).
It would be difficult to describe any autonomic response as rational. Rationality depends on reason and logic, and a response which takes place entirely within your hind-brain before it even reaches your conscious mind can hardly be described as being based on reason and logic. If you burn your hand, you don't think "shit, that's hot. The sensible thing to do would be to pull my hand away". You just do it because your brain makes it happen, before you're even consciously aware of the burn. If you think about it after the event, does it make rational sense for that response to occur? Yes. But is it really rational in the strictest sense if there is no decision-making process? I would suggest that the word arational applies here, the distinction being that an irrational action would be one which defies logic and reason, and an arational one would be one which simply does not require logic and reason.
As for the voluntary response, this can more easily be defined as either rational or irrational. Though I sense this is a matter of opinion to a certain extent. Some fears are definitely irrational. Worms are completely and utterly harmless. There is absolutely no way a worm could harm a human being under any circumstances. But I once knew somebody who had a phobia of worms. This is objectively irrational. An oven on the other hand, may or may not be an irrational fear. Yeah, I know that I can just not touch the oven and it won't harm me. But what if the oven malfunctions and caches fire? Or what if I leave something on top of it and that catches fire? Or what if a pot boils over and burns the dog? These fears are potentially rational in that they are things which can actually happen and are likely to cause harm. So I suppose the distinction between whether this is a rational or an irrational fear is down to how likely it is that this event will occur, and how extensive the fear is.
Yeah, I was really referring to the behavior one exhibits in response to the emotion. Physiological response is a part of the emotion. Your body has identified something scary and is preparing itself through the elevated heart rate, etc., to take proper action. The taking action is still up to you(well, arguable) and that is your response. I think freezing is failure to take an action. Freezing isn't exactly an action because all we mean when we say that is you're standing there and not doing anything. You should be running or fighting IF one of those two options is a rational response to the fear. So that's the distinction between physiological responses which are automatic and occur in conjunction with the fear. Depending on where you want to go with this, I guess you could argue that the physiological response is not the emotion, but a response to it. I wouldn't go that route, though, because all emotions are what they are because of the way it physically affects you. Happiness makes your body feel light. Stress makes your body feel tight and ache. Anger carries with it the physical sensation of a volcano wanting to erupt from your stomach out of your mouth. And there's more technical details as well. Stress can turn your hair white. Anger can shorten your life, it also elevates your heart rate and affects your breathing. So, in my opinion, the physical response which is automatic, is of the emotion and is not really the reaction to the emotion. I'm just more concerned with the behavior. It all depends on the parameters of your interest. But it looks like we're on the same page there anyway.
The worms are probably symbolic. Worms eat dead things. It was a mistake the brain may have made, to associate worms with the cause of death, when really they are at the result of death. And it's also interesting what you brought up about unlikely situations. I think most people would call someone who is constantly afraid of unlikely situations that haven't happened paranoid. Wikipedia describes paranoia as: "Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality". So delusion is something like someone's following me (assuming that I'm incorrect). Irrationality would be a good way to describe this person who is afraid about all these random and unlikely situations going on with the oven.
Didn't want to take away from before, but I do want to address the idea of whether taking action is actually up to you. I won't get too deterministic, although I do think there is ample evidence to suggest that our decisions are made before our conscious mind even works out an approach to a choice-event. In the case of a fear which is well-founded, it's very arguable that your mind plays any role in guiding your body beyond providing it with raw data which it can use to ensure its survival. I guess saying "body" may be misleading. The body does have its own mind in a way, but I suppose what's really going is the paradigm between your body and brain shifts in this moment. Your reptile brain takes over and that's the system that is making decisions for you in conjunction with the body. So, if the fear is really bad enough to where you REALLY think that your life is in danger, you will act on that. It's only irrational because you're REALLY wrong. That's why exposure therapy is a good idea because it shows you that you're life isn't in danger.
I have more than a touch of bathophobia/thalassophobia. Things like this:
Kinda do my head in.
I'm not sure I agree with this. Freezing is often a sensible reaction as it potentially allows the animal to remain unnoticed by whatever it is afraid of. Furthermore, remaining completely frozen is actually quite difficult. Freeze responses to fear usually require a high level of muscle tension throughout the body, which is an active process requiring energy. So I would argue that it is an action, not a failure to act.
Yeah, but freezing is the more rational reaction if the thing you're frightened of can both outpace and overpower you (or if you're not sure whether it can or not).
I completely agree. We have high-level conceptualisations of the conscious experience of emotion, but I don't think that's actually what they are. They're just ways of describing what's going on in our bodies at that point in time. I teach emotions to autistic kids this way.
Yeah, I suppose it's not a reaction to the emotion, it is the emotion. I guess what I meant was that those autonomic responses are the body's reaction to the stimulus, and because they are autonomic are necessarily arational.
In this particular case, it was a clear case of classical conditioning. The person had experienced a traumatic event in their garden as a young child, and had seen worms at the same time. So the worms became a trigger for the fear. I would argue that classically conditioned fears are still irrational though. Yes they act as symbols for what it is you are really afraid of. But a rational mind should be able to reason through that and identify that the stimulus is not harmful, and thus overcome the fear. But of course it's not that easy when you're basically talking about a phobia.
Hm yes, interesting point. I hadn't considered the crossover from fear to paranoia. But you're absolutely right. And I guess the extent to which it could be considered paranoid depends on how convinced you are that this unlikely event will happen at some point.
Yep, I totally agree. We are a product of our genetics and our previous experiences, and I believe that every decision we make is directly determined by those factors. If we could measure them precisely enough, we could predict any human behaviour precisely. It gets even easier when we're talking about emotional responses, because they're less determined by experience and more by neurology.
Yeah I agree. And I was thinking about that shift from reptilian brain to mammalian brain (and frontal lobe stuff). There are definitely times when we can experience fear and the autonomic (fight/flight/freeze) reaction kicks in, and we have to override it. We've all experienced that feeling of being frozen to the spot in fear and having to force ourselves to move. Or the opposite - feeling compelled to flee, but making ourselves stay where we are. That's a clear case of rationality and reason overriding the arational hind-brain.
I was playing a sea exploration game on Oculus Rift (virtual reality) - mistake! I got nauseous and panicky in about a minute, and it wasn't even the real ocean! When I was on a scuba driving course, trying to overcome my fears, I found out I'm not only afraid of the depths but I also can't handle the pressure. My ears protested way quicker than anyone else's in the group.
Also if I have to drive across a long bridge with water beneath, like a biiig body of water that stretches out on either side of me, I start panicking if I don't nail my eyes on the back bumper of the car in front of me.
Seaweeds and jellyfish freak me the fuck out.
I guess my worst fear would be getting lost in some underwater cave while scuba diving.
To become paralyzed due to some kind of accident and not be able to experience life as I want.
I went swimming in the ocean in Olympos, Turkey. When I was underwater, as long as I looked towards the beach, where land was rising, I was fine, but when I looked the other direction, into the deepening blue...
That is quite an impressive view. By underwater did you mean scuba diving?
No, just flopping around, didn't have anything other than a swimsuit. That view is Google Earth, btw.
Ooooh that's a good one. I worry about that too.
Zombies and Zombie Apocalypse. It doesn't matter that the fast zimbies aren't scientifically possible, but the thought alone terrifies me.
Now, for something that's real:
Bridges that reside over water. I have a fear of drowning in an enclosed space so driving on bridges like this can suck.
Clouds. What are they doing up there? What are they plotting? I don't trust them.
You're right not to. Real clouds died out decades ago - these up there are swarms of cleverly disguised mind-control and observation drones controlled by the government, and they're surrounded by aluminium-thorium-fibreglass mist that rains into the groundwater to make us dumb and infertile.
Not being allowed to die with dignity. The U.S. is one of those countries where this remains an issue, where the need to pander to the beliefs of other people still typically trumps the individual's right to let go on his or her own terms. Fucked up.
I have a number of solutions to that problem. If the time comes, I'll probably choose number 12.
Excellent point. Couldn't think of anything rational until now but that definitely hits the spot for me. I support assisted suicide because I believe, just as every person has a right to live, every person should have a right to chose when and how to die. Germany does not see it that way however. I'm afraid of ending up in a situation where the only options are death or continuous suffering and me without the choice or ability to decide which.
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