Analysis of Fear

Analysis of Fear

Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 12:20pm

 

Fear (Fear) (?), n.
 
A variant of Fere, a mate, a companion. [Obs.] Spenser.
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Fear (Fear), n.
[OE. fer, feer, fere, AS. før a coming suddenly upon, fear, danger; akin to D. vaar, OHG. faØra danger, G. gefahr,
Icel. faØr harm, mischief, plague, and to E. fare, peril. See Fare.]
 
1. A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger;
apprehension; anxiety; solicitude; alarm; dread.
 
^ The degrees of this passion, beginning with the most moderate, may be thus expressed, -- apprehension, fear,
dread, fright, terror. "Fear is an uneasiness of the mind, upon the thought of future danger likely to befall us."
Locke. "Where no hope is left, is left no fear." Milton.
 
2. (Script.) (a) Apprehension of incurring, or solicitude to avoid, God's wrath; the trembling and awful reverence felt
toward the Supreme Being. (b) Respectful reverence for men of authority or worth. "I will put my fear in their
hearts." Jer. xxxii. 40. "I will teach you the fear of the Lord." Ps. xxxiv. 11. "render therefore to all their dues; tribute
to whom tribute is due . . . fear to whom fear." Rom. xiii. 7.
 
3. That which causes, or which is the object of, apprehension or alarm; source or occasion of terror; danger;
dreadfulness. "There were they in great fear, where no fear was." Ps. liii. 5. "The fear of your adventure would
counsel you to a more equal enterprise." Shak.
 
-- For fear, in apprehension lest. "For fear you ne'er see chain nor money more." Shak.
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Fear (Fear), v. t.
[imp. & p. p. Feared (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Fearing.]
[OE. feren, faeren, to frighten, to be afraid, AS. føran to terrify. See Fear, n.]
 
1. To feel a painful apprehension of; to be afraid of; to consider or expect with emotion of alarm or solicitude. "I will
fear no evil, for thou art with me." Ps. xxiii. 4.
With subordinate clause. "I greatly fear my money is not safe." Shak. "I almost fear to quit your hand." D. Jerrold.
 
2. To have a reverential awe of; to solicitous to avoid the displeasure of. "Leave them to God above; him serve and
fear." Milton.
 
3. To be anxious or solicitous for. [R.] "The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, therefore . . . I fear
you." Shak.
 
4. To suspect; to doubt. [Obs.] "Ay what else, fear you not her courage?" Shak.
 
5. To affright; to terrify; to drive away or prevent approach of by fear. z2 "fera their people from doing evil."
Robynsin (More's utopia). "Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs." Shak.
 
Synonyms -- To apprehend; dread; reverence; venerate.
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Fear (Fear), v. i.
 
To be in apprehension of evil; to be afraid; to feel anxiety on account of some expected evil. "I exceedingly fear and
quake." Heb. xii. 21.
 
Fear [AS. foer]: Ger. Furcht; Fr. peur, crainte (higher forms); Ital. paura, timore (higher). (1) An emotion, arising
in a situation demanding practical adjustment; but of such a nature as to disable and disconcert either by its
strangeness or by the threat of approaching evil. In intense fear no form of adjustment may be possible except
evasion or escape; and in extreme cases even these are impossible. (G.F.S., J.M.B.)
 
(2) The emotion arising from the EXPECTATION (q.v.) of what is disagreeable. In this sense fear is contrasted with
hope, as in the expression 'hopes and fears.' See HOPE AND DESPAIR. (J.M.B., G.F.S.)
 
(1) Fear belongs to the primary emotions, i.e. to those which are found at every level of mental development above
the mere sense reflex. It may have its source either in the disconcerting strangeness or obtrusiveness of an
occurrence, or in previous painful experiences connected with the object which occasions it. Some writers (e.g.
Spencer and H. M. Stanley) have laid one-sided emphasis on the second mode of origin. Spencer seems to identify
fear (at least in its primitive form) with the revival of past painful experiences with connected motor activities. 'To
have in a slight degree such psychical states as accompany the reception of wounds, and are experienced during
flight, is to be in a state of what we call fear' (Psychology, viii. 213). H. M. Stanley agrees in affirming that 'we can
only have the pain of fear so far as we have experienced pain.' But he denies, with good reason, that the pain of fear
is merely a reoccurrence of the previous painful experiences on which it depends. Yet he goes to the other extreme in
emphasizing a supposed 'pain at pain.' Both Stanley and Spencer seem to neglect the other possible occasion of fear --
the startling and disconcerting effect of a strange, sudden, or violently obtrusive occurrence. But this is an undoubted
condition of great importance, even in primitive forms of the emotion. The contrast between meanings (1) and (2) is
that between lower or organic and higher or intellectual EMOTION (q.v.).
 
Literature: DARWIN, Expression of Emotions, 290 ff.; MOSSO, Fear (Eng. trans.); SPENCER, Princ. of Psychol.,
viii. 213; H. M. STANLEY, Evolutionary Psychol., chap. vii; W. JAMES, Principles, ii. 396, 415, 446; STOUT,
Manual of Psychol. On the genetic relation between fears of the two sorts, see SCHNEIDER, Der thierische Wille,
and BALDWIN, Social and Eth. Interpret., chap. vi. (G.F.S.- J.M.B.)
 
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Fear (in religion) (1) A self-regarding emotion which had widespread influence on the character of religious thought
and practices, especially in the higher animistic stage when sacrifices, magic, &c., became prevalent.
At the same time, it should be noted that this influence may be easily exaggerated. For it has to be remembered that,
after ceremonies had crystallized sufficiently, their due observance often transformed fear into confidence --
confidence born of the realized propitiation of the cause of terror. It is customary to trace this phase of fear to the
feeling of DEPENDENCE (q.v.); hence such a famous phrase as 'Primus in orbe deos fecit timor' (Statius, Theb., iii.
661).
 
(2) In religions which contain a strong moral infusion, representing a much higher stage than that alluded to above,
fear commonly implies conviction of misdeed. Here 'conscience doth make cowards of us all.'
The self-regarding emotion gives place to an altruistic tendency caused by the connection which 'conscience' forms
with the object of worship. Such phrases as 'Perfect love casteth out fear' (1 John iv. 18), and 'The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. cxi. 10), point to a devotion which obliterates mere self, and by this very fact lifts man
to the highest religious level. Cf. RELIGION (psychology of).
Literature: A. R…VILLE, Prolegomena to the Hist. of Religions (Eng. trans.), 30 f., 67 f.; TEICHM‹LLER,
Religions philosophie, 32f. The subject is treated incidentally in all competent works on primitive civilization.
 
Darwin's Effects of Fear:
 
"Fear is often preceded by astonishment, and is so far akin to it that both lead to the senses of sight and hearing being
instantly aroused. In both cases the eyes and mouth are widely opened and the eyebrows raised. The frightened man
at first stands like a statue, motionless and breathless, or crouches down as if instinctively to escape observation. The
heart beats quickly and violently, so that it palpitates or knocks against the ribs; but it is very doubtful if it then works
more efficiently than usual, so as to send a greater supply of blood to all parts of the body; for the skin instantly
becomes pale as during incipient faintness. This paleness of the surface, however, is probably in large part, or is
exclusively, due to the vaso-motor centre being affected in such a manner as to cause the contraction of the small
arteries of the skin. That the skin is much affected under the sense of great fear, we see in the marvellous manner in
which perspiration immediately exudes from it. This exudation is all the more remarkable, as the surface is then cold,
and hence the term, a cold sweat; whereas the sudorific glands are properly excited into action when the surface is
heated. The hairs also on the skin stand erect, and the superficial muscles shiver. In connection with the disturbed
action of the heart the breathing is hurried. The salivary glands act imperfectly; the mouth becomes dry and is often
opened and shut. I have also noticed that under slight fear there is strong tendency to yawn. One of the best marked
symptoms is the trembling of all the muscles of the body; and this is often first seen in the lips. From this cause, and
from the dryness of the mouth, the voice becomes husky or indistinct or may altogether fail. 'Obstupui steteruntque
comÊ, et vox faucibus hÊsit.' . . . As fear increases into an agony of terror, we behold, as under all violent emotions,
diversified results. The heart beats wildly or must fail to act and faintness ensue; there is a death-like pallor; the
breathing is labored; the wings of the nostrils are widely dilated; there is a gasping and convulsive motion of the lips,
a tremor on the hollow cheek, a gulping and catching of the throat; the uncovered and protruding eyeballs are fixed on
the object of terror; or they may roll restlessly from side to side, huc illuc volens oculos totumque pererrat. The
pupils are said to be enormously dilated. All the muscles of the body may become rigid or may be thrown into
convulsive movements. The hands are alternately clenched and opened, often with a twitching movement. The arms
may be protruded as if to avert some dreadful danger, or may be thrown wildly over the head. The Rev. Mr.
Hagenauer has seen this latter action in a terrified Australian. In other cases there is a sudden and uncontrollable
tendency to headlong flight; and so strong is this that the boldest soldiers may be seized with a sudden panic."
 
"To have in a slight degree," he says, "such psychical states as accompany the reception of wounds, and are
experienced during flight, is to be in a state of what we call fear. And to have in a slight degree such psychical states
as the processes of catching, killing, and eating imply, is to have the desires to catch, kill, and eat. That the
propensities to the acts are nothing else than nascent excitations of the psychical state involved in the acts, is proved
by the natural language of the propensities. Fear, when strong, expresses itself in cries, in efforts to escape, in
palpitations, in tremblings; and these are just the manifestations that go along with an actual suffering of the evil
feared. The destructive passion is shown in a general tension of the muscular system, in gnashing of teeth and
protrusion of the claws, in dilated eyes and nostrils, in growls; and these are weaker forms of the actions that
accompany the killing of prey. To such objective evidences every one can add subjective evidences. Every one can
testify that the psychical state called fear consists of mental representations of certain painful results; and that the one
called anger consists of mental representations of the actions and impressions which would occur while inflicting
some kind of pain."
 
About fear I shall have more to say presently. Meanwhile the principle of revival in weakened form of reactions
useful in more violent dealings with the object inspiring the emotion, has found many applications. So slight a
symptom as the snarl or sneer, the one-sided uncovering of the upper teeth, is accounted for by Darwin as a survival
from the time when our ancestors had large canines, and unfleshed them (as dogs now do) for attack. Similarly the
raising of the eyebrows in outward attention, the opening of the mouth in astonishment, come, according to the same
author, from the utility of these movements in extreme cases. The raising of the eyebrows goes with the opening of
the eye for better vision; the opening of the mouth with the intensest listening, and with the rapid catching of the
breath which precedes muscular effort. The distention of the nostrils in anger is interpreted by Spencer as an echo of
the way in which our ancestors had to breathe when, during combat, their "mouth was filled up by a part of an
antagonist's body that had been seized(!)." The trembling of fear is supposed by Mantegazza to be for the sake of
warming the blood(!). The reddening of the face and neck is called by Wundt a compensatory arrangement for
relieving the brain of the blood-pressure which the simultaneous excitement of the heart brings with it. The effusion
of tears is explained both by this author and by Darwin to be a blood-withdrawing agency of a similar sort. The
contraction of the muscles around the eyes, of which the primitive use is to protect those organs from being too much
gorged with blood during the screaming fits of infancy, survives in adult life in the shape of the frown, which
instantly comes over the brow when anything difficult or displeasing presents itself either to thought or action.
 
"We have seen that the graver the peril becomes, the more do the reactions which are positively harmful to the animal
prevail in number and inefficacy. We already saw that the trembling and the palsy make it incapable of flight or
defence; we have also convinced ourselves that in the most decisive moments of danger we are less able to see [or to 
think] than when we are tranquil. In face of such facts we must admit that the phenomena of fear cannot all be
accounted for by 'selection.' Their extreme degrees are morbid phenomena which show an imperfection in the
organism. We might almost say that Nature had not been able to frame a substance which should be excitable enough
to compose the brain and spinal marrow, and yet which should not be so excited by exceptional stimulation as to
overstep in its reactions those physiological bounds which are useful to the conservation of the creature."
 
Flight -- Flight from danger is probably the earliest and most deeply seated of the various lines of behaviour by
which animals react to conditions which threaten their existence or their integrity. Flight may be regarded as a
development of the reaction of repulsion from the noxious which is one of the fundamental modes of response to
stimulation in those animals which are capable of mass-motion -- attraction towards the beneficial or useful; repulsion
from the harmful. Those instinctive reactions in which animals seek special sources of safety may be regarded as
developments, or modifications, of the instinct of flight, while the instinctive cry which so often accompanies flight is
probably a still later development arising out of the gregarious habit.
 
Immobility -- The three forms of reaction already considered resemble one another in that they involve definite
activity on the part of the being, whether man or animal, threatened by danger. The mode of reaction now to be
considered differs fundamentally from them in that it involves the complete cessation of movement, complete
inhibition or suppression of the movements which would be brought into being by the instincts of flight and
aggression, or by manipulation. The instinct which thus leads to the complete absence of movement seems to go very
far back in the animal kingdom. It is often associated with purely physiological modes of reaction, such as changes in
the distribution pigment, which increase the chances of safety of the animal by making it indistinguishable from its
background. The instinctive reaction by means of immobility has the end of concealing the animal from the danger
which threatens it, and this end of concealment is often assisted by other means, which may also be more or less
instinctive in character.
 
Collapse --This last form of reaction to danger is one which has greatly puzzled biologists. The reaction is usually
accompanied by tremors or irregular movements which wholly deprive the reaction of any serviceable character it
might possess through the paralysis of movement: Haller has suggested that this form of reaction is useless to, or
even prejudices the welfare of, the individual, it is useful to the race by eliminating, or helping to eliminate, the more
timid members of the species. From this point of view the reaction would be a failure of the instinct of self
preservation in the interest of the continuance of the species. I think we shall take a more natural view of the reaction
by collapse if we regard it as a failure of the instinct of self-preservation taking place in animals when instinctive
reactions to danger have been so overlaid by reactions of other kinds that, in the presence of excessive or unusual
stimuli, the instinctive reactions fail. It is noteworthy that collapse with tremor seems to be especially characteristic of
Man in whom all the different modes of reaction to danger found in the animal kingdom are present in some degree,
but no one of them so specially developed as to form an immediate and invariable mode of behaviour in the presence
of danger.
There is evidence also that collapse and tremor occur especially when there is frustration of an instinctive reaction.
Thus, Brehm describes a motionless state, with staring eyes and tongues hanging out of their mouths, in seals which
had been surprised in their favourite place of repose and cut off from their usual access to the sea. Again, as an
example in Man, Mosso observed collapse with violent tremor in a youthful brigand condemned to summary
execution. Emitting a shrill cry, the boy turned to flee, and rushing against a wall, writhed and scratched against it as
if trying to force a way through. Baffled in his attempt to escape, he at last sank to the ground like a log and trembled
as Mosso had never seen another tremble, as "though the muscles had been turned to a jelly shaken in all directions."
 
Collapse and Terror -- There is little doubt that the collapse, associated with tremor, which forms one mode of
reacting to danger, especially in the higher animals, is accompanied by that excess of fear we call terror. This
association, based on the experience of Man, may also be ascribed to animals. Though immobility and collapse
resemble each other superficially, I suppose them to be poles apart so far as the accompanying affect is concerned.
 
The term shudder, in this way, is the common designation in speech for the phenomena arising from the sudden
effects of cold upon the skin, and also from terrifying impressions. That the naÔve intelligence recognizes no
distinction between the shuddering due to emotional, and that due to purely bodily causes, we perceive in the fairy
tale of the youth, who went forth in order to find out what shuddering was, and who after seeking in vain to discover
it in the company of the dead and of ghosts, had his wish fulfilled when he was thrown from his bed into a tub of ice
cold water, which produced a more painful effect upon his vasomotor apparatus than the sight of corpses, and of
ghosts.
 
Related Definitions:
 
Death (physiological) [OE.]: Ger. Tod; Fr. mort; Ital. morte. Final cessation of the vital functions. Death of the body
(somatic death) occurs when one or more functions (respiration, circulation, excretion, nervous co-ordination)
become disturbed to such an extent as to render the harmonious working of the various organs impossible.
A tissue is said to die when it loses permanently its power of responding to its appropriate stimuli. The brain and
nervous system die, in man and warm-blooded animals, at the moment of somatic death; gland tissue dies very soon
after. Smooth muscle retains its irritability 45 minutes, skeletal muscle some hours, after death
 
Demonomania or Demon Possession [Gr. daimwn, a demon, + mania, madness]: Ger. D‰monomanie,
Besessenheit; Fr. dÈmonomanie; Ital. demonomania. Demonomania is a morbid mental condition, in which the
patient believes himself, more usually herself, possessed by a demon. The term demon possession may be applied
either to this condition or to the prevalent belief that certain forms of disease or manifestations are caused by demons.
Possession and spirit possession are also used, to give a wider field for interpretation.
 
The condition may be considered either as a type of insanity, or in its historical aspects. As the former it is often akin
to a religious melancholia, the patient believing himself eternally damned, suffering from agonies of self-accusation,
and exhibiting many of the characteristics of melancholiacs. Another type of demonomania is the hysterical one,
characterized by convulsions, and thus giving rise to the term Convulsionaires. Such demonomaniacs are subject to
attacks of violence and fury, accompanied by starts and choreic jerks, and loud shouting, in which the central idea of
possession by a demon is prominent. In extreme cases this crisis, which lasts from ten minutes to half an hour, may
be accompanied by assaults on the bystanders, destruction of property, beating of their own bodies. A very constant
symptom of the attack is anaesthesia. Ecstasy, catalepsy, and somnambulism may be noted; and most characteristic is
the tendency of such attacks to be contagious and lead to epidemics (see CONTAGION). A person so affected may
be termed a demoniac or demonomaniac. It is especially significant as a symptom of the delirium of degeneracy.
On the historic side, demon possession is important as a stage in the development of medical theory of disease, and
as suggesting a rational explanation in terms of modern psychiatry of the actions and influences of abnormal
individuals in former ages. In this connection it has an equal significance for the history of religion. Cf.
DEMONOLOGY (with literature there cited).
 
Fear [AS. foer]: Ger. Furcht; Fr. peur, crainte (higher forms); Ital. paura, timore (higher). (1) An emotion, arising
in a situation demanding practical adjustment; but of such a nature as to disable and disconcert either by its
strangeness or by the threat of approaching evil. In intense fear no form of adjustment may be possible except
evasion or escape; and in extreme cases even these are impossible.
 
Impression (aesthetic). The effect produced by the intrinsic qualities of an aesthetic object, as distinguished from its
expression or suggestion of a meaning pointing beyond itself.
 
Emotion (aesthetic). What has generally been meant by the emotional element in aesthetic psychoses is a condition of
mental excitation, whether agreeable, disagreeable, or both, involving processes of a distinctly intellectual and
spiritual character, and especially such processes in distinction from merely sensuous pleasures and pains. In this
sense the idea is most closely represented by the present use of the term SENTIMENT
 
Influence [Lat. in + fluere, to flow]: Ger. Einfluss; Fr. influence; Ital. influenza. That which enters in any way into
the determination of a thing (1) is an influence, (2) has an influence, (3) exerts an influence; that is, the influence is
(3) an element in the determination, (2) the capacity to contribute this element to the determination, (1) the thing which
has such a capacity.
 
Anxiety [Lat. anxius, anxious, from angor, distress]: Ger. Angst, Be‰ngstigung; Fr. anxiÈtÈ, dÈlire anxieux,
inquiÈtude; Ital. ansiet‡. (1) Relatively strong apprehension or fear of the type described under HOPE AND
DESPAIR (q.v.).
 
(2) Pathological: solicitude, mental distress or agitation; either in dread or anticipation of some sorrow or trial, or as a
general apprehensiveness of misfortune. Its specific expressions may be recognized in the worried aspect of the
features and attitude, and in a feeling of constriction and distress in the praecordial region. It is a frequent symptom in
various forms of nervous weakness and of mental disease. (J.J.)
 
It characterizes conditions of degeneracy, and is a symptom of Morel's 'emotional delirium' -- dÈlire Èmotif