Why Humans Experience Fear
In order to understand why human beings experience fear, we need to first understand the mechanisms of the brain. Our limbic system is a network of neurons that are tightly connected. These neurons send signals to the nervous system to produce physical responses. We start a heartbeat, breathe rapidly and raise our blood pressure, while our body temperature rises. The skin sweats, and our muscles contract to keep us cool. We may feel a sensation in the chest or stomach, or our legs and hands become cold. Our bodies respond to this by producing a response that we experience as fear.
In infant mammals, separation anxiety can lead to high-frequency distress vocalizations. Some theories call this “panic.” There is evidence that these behaviors can be modulated by specific genes. We also have a social aspect of fear. This occurs when we see an unfamiliar face, or someone invades our space. These social aspects reliably involve the amygdala. We can learn how to control these responses with a set of simple techniques, such as reducing the intensity of the fear.
The mechanism of fear involves a chain reaction in the brain. A stressful stimulus triggers a series of reactions in the body, triggering a response that signals danger. In response to the threat, we produce a signal, such as lower our tails. These responses then cause the body to respond in a way that is aimed at protecting us. The result of this chain reaction is a physiological and psychological state known as a “fight or flight” response.