The End of Fear – A Psychological Review

The End of Fear. Life is so much trouble. Only death is permanent, and a part of that permanent problem is fear. Some scientists attribute fear to earliest evolution, as human beings, for fear made sharper and more evasive so that we would be better able to protect ourselves and reproduce.

The End of Fear

But fear can also crush, oppress, smother us, and smothers. In The End of Fear, Charles Darwin showed that humans respond to the perception of danger with both the built-in fight reaction as well as with additional cognitive processes including the “flight or fight” response. The primary distinction between these two reactions is that the flight response, or the response designed to prepare the body for flight or fight, involves a period of elevated levels of physical and emotional arousal. The End of Fear, however, suggests that, in today’s world, the flight response has become obsolete, as people have become less afraid of the future and more concerned with the present. In this book, Darwin describes the cognitive processes that go into turning fear on and off, as well as the processes that lead to and result from the fear itself.

Darwin shows how our cognitive processes work and why some forms of fear are appropriate, like the “fight reaction,” while others should be discouraged, like the “flight or flight” response. In addition, he describes how we use different types of emotions, and why the fear of the unknown is among the most debilitating. Finally, he describes the process by which fear is transformed into self-awareness, which leads to the ability to control fear and potentially enable us to overcome its crippling effects. The End of Fear provides many examples and illustrations, many of which echo current psychological research. As a reviewer stated, “enery, animals, and the narrator are vivid additions to the book…It is, in my opinion, a very good introduction to the study of psychological mechanisms and emotions.”