Why Do People Experience Fear?

Why humans experience fear? This question has baffled scientists for decades. Some have argued that fear is a way of motivating us to perform certain actions, while others believe fear is a response to the danger we may be facing. In fact, a small number of people believe that fear is a device humans use to prepare themselves for their own extermination. This is the theory of the survivalist or “anti-natal” movement. This view holds that humans have evolved to ensure their survival after they have left the tribe and the land, so that they will not need to work to support themselves.

Although this theory sounds far-fetched, it has at least one significant support – the fact that fear can help us to protect ourselves from danger. During our early days, humans had to fight off enemies from very large animals, such as lions and carnivores. Our ancestors used various types of fear to prepare themselves for dangerous situations. The theory is that, if they faced greater threats, they would be better equipped to deal with them in the future. Over time, this theory seems to hold true, as we are able to read human behavior and notice when someone is preparing for danger.

Today, most scientists are in agreement with this theory. Recent research shows that many disorders, including autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, stem from some type of fear reaction. People with autism, for example, often cannot function in normal social settings because they have a lack of fear response. Scientists believe that abnormal fear responses lead to these disorders because they block the signal that helps a person make sense of their environment, making it impossible to navigate through the experience and learn from it.