Afraid of Fear or Addicted to Fear?

Fear and how to handle it - Part 2

What a strange phenomenon: people suffering from fear expect it to come back and develop a new one, the fear of the return of the fear. Once they have defined an intimidating situation, they learn to automatically respond with panic to it. What works within them is a kind of affirmation or autosuggestion. They know the terrible feeling will come back, so they anticipate it and start getting nervous days before the situation really becomes dangerous - or what they find dangerous. And the fear does exactly what the phobiac expects from it. On time, reliable and without the slightest sign of mercy. You may ask yourself why being so intimidated now, while my exam will not take place before next week? But that statement comes from the rational part of the mind and the fear itself does not care.

Snowdrop
Snowdrop - Supports the anxiety treatment

Whenever I find myself in a certain situation I panic. There are no exceptions. Is it not amazing how precise and reliable fear works! You will not witness a phobiac leaving the dentist‘s practice saying to himself ‚O my God, I complete forgot to be scared!‘. But if we try to be non-judgemental and beyond the bad and scary emotion, we realize the great power that lies within this phenomenon. We have to realize that we ourselves are the ones who initiate it. The dentist usually says ‚please open your mouth‘, not ‚please panic now‘. No one outside ourselves triggers the fear. Some people may take this as another reason to feel guilty, but actually it gives us the chance to stop the fear. We ourselves started it, why should we not be able to stop it?

Beyond that special phenomenon, let us call it „the fear of fear“, there is something else we should consider when working with a client (or ourselves) suffering from being overwhelmed by this emotion. Some people become addicted to fear. Believe it or not, it is possible, even though fear has very little in common with the usual means of addiction. If cocaine created skin inflammation, migraine and impotence I doubt anybody would ever try it. No, at first it is the special, positive kick that makes drugs so attractive: energy boost, sweet dreams, raised self-comsciousness or whatever.

Broad-Leaved Orchid
Broad-Leaved Orchid

But yet there is an addiction to fear, although it lacks the sweet beginnings. For a better understanding let us take a look on the theoretical basis of the so-called Posttraumatic Stress Syndrom.

Traumatised peoele often report strange experiences they went through while the trauma happened. They just see this other car coming far to fast from their left - and from then on they do not remember anything. There seems to be an inner mechanism, that makes them switch off their conscious awareness. They do not feel how the stiring wheel breaks their ribs and glass splinters cut through their skin. Pain comes much later, when they awake in the hospital. In the very moment the trauma appears, their organism seems to be flooded with mercifull substances acting like painkillers. And both the painkillers and the fear come from within.

Is the trauma accompagnied by strong emotions, this can lead to a kind of flashbacks similar to the well known effect of taking LSD and similar drugs. The reaction becomes an inner automatism, which cannot be controlled consciously. Let me give you an example: a woman is raped by a masked man, she cannot see, but she notices his strange smell. The inner mechanism can trigger the flashback whenever she smells something similar - be it dangerous or not. This can happen at her workplace, on the market or wherever. She learns fear can appear everywhere. What a mess her life can become after the devastating experience.

Some women however  use to return to places and situations that remind them of the trauma and lead to flachbacks. It seems more like an addiction. Were they raped in an elevator some of them have to use it even when there are stairs - in contradiction to the usual phobiac behaviour, that makes people avoid intimidating situations.

Mimulus
Mimulus - anti-fear remedy

Part 3 of the »How to handle your fears« series There are two major forces making take us action, you may call them the big motivators.
Fear seems to be a  powerful monster, always stronger than our willpower, an enemy that keeps us from going to the dentist, that makes us fail when we
Marion Leigh throws Light and Love on a common problem of the fear of public speaking. Social anxiety is a problem I have been battling with personally
SP is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations.
Last month we looked at general anxiety disorder, and this time we will be focusing on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  OCD is an anxiety disorder
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