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Fears for Thought

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There are so many fears in the world. I, for one, have several different fears which include whales, flying in planes, death, and more. Some of you may scoff at these fears, but I’m sure I might find some of your fears such as spiders, clouds, rain, etc. comical. Everyone has at least one fear, whether it’s common or irrational. I find this interesting because not everyone has the same fear, and some fears are almost inescapable which poses the questions “Where would these fears come from?” and “Why do we have these fears?”

Some people claim that their fears come have been passed down to them through family members genetically. Maybe in some cases this could seem true, but I don’t know anyone else in my family who is scared of whales. It’s very possible that fears can be passed onto someone, but in my opinion it’s most likely because of influence. I’m sure if I gave you a good enough story about a whale eating someone or even showed you the whale scene in Pinocchio, you would be weary the next time you were offered the chance to swim with a whale.

But why do people find the things they fear scary? Could it be just because of the circumstance? I’m scared of flying in planes just because of all the things that could possibly go wrong while I’m trapped in a piece of metal soaring thousands of feet above the ground. I may be scared of flying in planes, but I’m not scared of spiders like my good friend is. We were taking a walk on a trail in our neighborhood one day when we reached a pile of leaves covering our path. He would not walk through the leaves because he insisted “there could be spiders living in there”. He insisted that spiders are the most terrifying, deathly creatures on our planet and will kill you at any chance they get. He also was sure that a spider would crawl up his pants if we walked through the leaves. This seemed so ridiculous to me that I laughed at him until he began to tease me about my fear of whales. Why are people scared of some things while others aren’t? Well, one reason may be our own accounts with things we fear. According to an article in the Times written by Meredith Melnick called “Where Does Fear Come From? (Hint: It’s Not the Creepy Basement)”, a region known as the amygdala in our brains associates fear with memories. For example, do you fear the dark because your older brother told you flesh-eating monsters lived in the dark? Or is a daunting memory of riding your dad’s shoulders the sole cause for your fear of heights? Obviously, all humans do not have the same memories; therefore fears associated with bad memories will not be alike.

If you consider your fears, I’m sure you will find that many of them come from memories. Perhaps they also come from influences. Whatever it is, in our minds we all have perfectly reasonable fears, even if others find them absurd. But, after all, that’s what makes an irrational fear irrational, isn’t it?

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