No, I don’t know what fear is. And I honestly wish I did. Even after taking a course in Psychology, it still doesn’t make sense to me.
All I know is what can cause it; typically a bad experience. For instance, it was over a year ago that a rocks glass mysteriously shattered in my hand, and caused a lot of bleeding, and now I’m deathly afraid of glass… alright, that’s a lie, I haven’t developed a fear of glass, even though I expected to.
Can fear develop spontaneously though? Yes it can, apparently. It just didn’t with me. I don’t know why, you’d think I’d be more vulnerable to that kind of stuff.
But it’s hard to understand exactly why fears develop. Some, you can understand quite easily. I, for instance, have a slight fear of heights. Or to put it more accurately, I have a slight fear of falling from heights, and then experiencing a sudden stop at the end.
But that seems rational, right? Now how did that fear develop? I have no idea! I remember when I was a kid going on trips with my class to the woods, where there were rocky crags and cliff faces, and they made me nervous, but I don’t remember ever falling from one, or seeing someone fall from one.
Maybe some fears we’re just born with, and they have no origin story. Maybe some are in our DNA, and have developed over the past million years of evolution. And fear of heights definitely gives you an evolutionary advantage.
So, in that case, how might someone develop a fear of clowns?
Yes, some fears are irrational, and may develop through mysterious and random or unusual circumstances; or Stephen King films. And we may know they’re irrational, but that doesn’t stop us from having them. It’s the biggest problem with having an anxiety disorder, knowing about it doesn’t fix it.
But you can get over your fears. One way is through ‘systematic desensitization,’ according to my psychology text-book. Basically, you are gradually exposed to your fear, as you tried to stay relaxed. In a way, it’s like bringing the tide in, to slowly push your fears away.
The other approach is flooding, where you expose yourself to the greatest element of your fear, and as you panic and shout, ‘get it the fuck away from me,’ the doctors will just ignore you. In a way, it’s like bringing in a tsunami to take your fears down like it’s Indonesia.
Eventually, the idea is to prove to them that nothing bad will happen. It’s penetrating that outer shell of human reason, all to prove to their monkey/lizard/fish brain that their fears are unjustified. And over time, that fear does go away. Of course, then they might develop a fear of psychologists.
And who knows? Maybe that’s the best way to do it. To get someone to confront their fears and face them head on.
Which brings me to Littlest Pet Shop, where we deal with primal and irrational fears, and attempts to defeat them. Continue reading