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What Are You Afraid Of?

Fear is an interesting emotion.  Biologically speaking, it’s the result of (or simply is) a chemical reaction that occurs in our brains.  It’s designed to keep us alive, and not just us.  The same thing happens in the brains of rats.  So…

Is fear an emotion?  It sure feels like it.  Does that mean that rats feel emotion?

Why does your body tell you to run screaming out of the house when you see a tiny spider?  Is your chemistry just off, or does your fear run deeper than that?

What are you afraid of?

What are your common, everyday fears?

What are your irrational fears?


Here is what some other people said:

Nadia:  Dogs (little dogs, too).  I was chased by a dog when I was little.  It didn’t catch me, but…

Kyle:  My girlfriend is afraid of a bunch of little holes (like a colander).  She said it’s a real thing – she told me the name of it once, but I can’t remember.  Also clowns.

Terri:  I don’t like snakes.  I can go see snakes, like at the zoo, and I’m okay.  I’m not that scared of them…but yuk.
—John: I don’t like snakes, either.  Not a big snake guy.
Terri:  I don’t go watch horror movies.  I can read some books..I can read books where there’s blood and guts to some point.  To watch it on the tv or movie theater, I can’t do it.  Even though people tell me most of the time they’re kind of funny, because you can take yourself out of it.  You can tell yourself how stupid this is, this isn’t really gonna happen.  But I just…you know.  I can’t watch it because it gives me nightmares.  I’ll actually dream about the movies…ever since I was little.
—Michelle:  I don’t like the blood and guts, either.  But I specifically don’t like it if you can’t kill whatever it is that’s after you.
Terri:  I like suspense.  Now I like Hitchcock, even though that’s probably creepy because you don’t always know…some of the things he had could really happen, you know?  But suspense is okay, because again, I’m the one imagining what…I don’t have somebody showing me the person with their head chopped off.

Lynn:  Spiders, that’s the only thing.  Nothing else bothers me.

Becca:  I have a recurring shark nightmare that I’ve had my whole life.  I have this dream where I’m in the middle of the ocean and there are sharks.  But that’s not my fear.
—Logan:  I dislike enclosed spaces.
Becca:  Like elevators and such – claustrophobia.
—Michelle:  Is it real severe?
Logan: Not as severe as I make it – I don’t like doing that stuff, but I can if I need to.  And..
—Rebecca:  If he’s in a social situation, where his ego is on the line…
Logan:  Do you like talking?
—Rebecca:  Yes.  I love talking, I love to hear my voice.
Logan:  You took half of what I wanted to say out.  I know where this fear developed…my mother.  It’s inherited.
—Rebecca:  I’m sure.
Michelle:  You don’t like enclosed spaces, either?
—Rebecca:  No, that’s not my fear, but he developed that fear because we always took the stairs and never took the elevators…stuff like that.  We would never be in a situation that we couldn’t get out of, as far as locked doors, being locked in.
Logan:  I hate being locked in.
—Rebecca:  Mine is not claustrophobia…but that’s what his turned into.
Logan:  I dislike being locked in…I don’t like standing in a room and knowing that I gonna be locked in.  I don’t like sitting on a roller coaster when they put that thing on me.  That was my big problem with roller coasters is not being able to get out of that belt if something happened.  It’s illogical and irrational, but let’s say we’re going up or let’s say we just stop at the top of the thing – I want to be able to know I can get out.
—Michelle:  But they can unlock those bars…
Logan:  Right…but what if…you know…
—Rebecca:  It’s when you’re first locked in, it’s that initial feeling of panic.  And then when it starts…
Logan:  When the ride’s going, it’s fine…
—Rebecca:  When it starts, you’re fine.  And the few seconds before you unlock.
Logan:  At the end of the ride, if it takes an extra second or two for them to unlock it…you get uncomfortable, but it never lasts.
—Rebecca:  Yeah, I have that too.  But that’s not a fear, fear.  That’s just a…I don’t like it.
Logan:  That’s just something I don’t like.  I don’t really know what my big fear is, those are just things I dislike more than others.
—Rebecca:  My one fear is panic attacks.  Every single thing that I do is in an effort to not have one.  All of my OCD is to avoid a panic attack.  So all of the little rules that I have…is to not have one.  But I don’t fear the panic attacks like I used to, because I’ve had them for twenty years now.  But I don’t have the whole spiders or snakes.  It’s stuff I don’t like…but I’ve seen mom, like with the snakes, and I don’t have that fear associated with anything that I’m aware of.  I have extreme discomfort in some situations, like being locked down.  But it’s not like Mom’s where you run and scream or pull your hair out to get away from it.  Probably if I was buried alive, I would feel like she does…
Michelle:  Yeah, but that’s probably not going to happen…
—Rebecca:  But I think that’s a rational reaction to being buried alive.

Natalie:  I’m claustrophobic.  I don’t go to movie theaters.  If I do, I have to sit next to the exit doors. I do not like to go to indoor concerts.  I don’t like to be crowded.

Peyton:  The ocean.  Mainly the fish.
—Michelle:  But you go in the ocean.
Peyton:  Yeah, but fears don’t stop me from doing what I want to do.
—Michelle:  But you’re afraid to go in the ocean?
Peyton:  I’m afraid of stuff brushing up against me, like the fish and stuff, because I’m scared they’re going to eat me.  I mean any fish: little ones, big ones, those fish over there (points to fish tank).

Fez:  I’m afraid of…Peyton, you seriously won’t laugh at me?  I’m scared of those pop-up YouTube videos and I’m scared of super-big fish with super-big eyes.
—Peyton:  That’s mine!
Michelle:  (laughing)  He’s got fish, too.  That’s so weird.
—Peyton:  Fish are scary!
Michelle:  What do you mean pop-up videos?
—Peyton:  You mean the red-dot game…  Yeah, I’m afraid of those, too.
Fez:  You know those videos that are really soothing…then something pops up on the video when the video’s about to end in, like, two seconds?
—Michelle:  I got ya’ – I’m with ya’ on that.
* Peyton has already pulled out his laptop, and the boys spend the next 15 minutes or so looking up these videos.  I do not participate.  Ah, youth.

Rebecca:  The older I get, the more I contemplate death and the more it makes me afraid, because I don’t know what happens next.  And I don’t want it to be just nothing – I don’t want to just go to sleep and have a dreamless, dark nothing.  And I know I that won’t know it if it’s nothing…
—Michelle:  Yeah, but…I don’t want to lose myself.
Rebecca:  And that’s a fear.  The fear that death is nothing, and that I will then be just no more, there will be no more thoughts, there will be no more anything.

Group Discussion

Tina:  I hate butterflies.  (general group surprise and comments like, “are you really?”)  They are the nastiest creatures ever – they’re worse than flies and they’re worse than cockroaches.  That and ladybugs, oh my God I hate ladybugs!
—Michelle:  Are you afraid of them?
Tina:  Yeah, I’m petrified, I hate them, if they flutter near me…oh…  They touch all kinds of nasty things and they carry all kinds of nasty…yuck!
—Jacque:  Well, y’all all know I’m not scared of nothin’.  No snakes, no boogiemen.
Michelle:  Aunt Mart?
—Martha:  Oh…You don’t want me to bring out my list.
Tina:  Oh, her list!
—Rebecca:  She doesn’t like bridges…driving over them.
Jim:  Yeah, bridges…
—Jacque:  Bridges.  We had to drive…
Rebecca:  …around for the bridges, rather than over.
—Jacque:  When we had the place down on the river, she came down to Tappahanock.  She couldn’t go across the bridge, so I had to come up…Tommy brought me over, I drove Mart in her car across the bridge because she couldn’t drive across the bridge, and we had to do the same thing going back.
Martha: I don’t know why I have a fear of them, as many bridges as I’ve been over in my life.  Water…I don’t want to be around water.  But, my psychic told me I drowned in my first life.
—Michelle:  (laughing) You’re giving me more ideas!
Jim:  It was Dionne Warwick.
—Tom:  In your very first life, Martha, they didn’t even have water.
Martha:  Not in the house, Tom!
—Jim:  That’s funny.  Good Lord.
Martha:  And elevators (hear the clip below)
—Jim:  Elevated grating.
Jacque:  Other than snakes and spiders…I’m afraid of the boogieman, I really am.
—Michelle:  You used to be afraid of the house burning down.
Jim:  I used to be afraid of the clowwow.
—Tom:  But that was real, though.
Jacque:  Oh, I’m still afraid of burning the house down.
—Michelle:  The what?  I don’t even know what that is.
Martha:  When they were young, they had the clowwow.
—Michelle:  Oh, is that the boogieman?
Jim:  Well, I don’t know what it was, but I was afraid of it.
—Michelle:  Steve, what are you afraid of?
Steve:  I’m not afraid of anything.
—Michelle:  Becca?
Steve:  Well, a little bit.
—Michelle:  That’s not fear, that’s…
Jim:  That’s wisdom.
—Jacque:  That’s self preservation.
Steve:  That’s a healthy fear.
—Tom:  You’re afraid of grates?  Like you’ve got up there at work?  You’ve got it all over the place.
Jim:  That’s right…
—Tom:  What do you do, where big shoes?   Clown shoes  so you don’t fall through.
Jim:  It’s all I can do to stay up there.
—Tom:  Is that right…why?
Jim:  I don’t know.  It moves.


Skip on over:

read About Me and zombie fear

An item of interest:

article by Carl ZimmerThe Primitive, Complicated, Essential Emotion Called Fear

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