Fear is a Curious Phenomenon

london blitz

A group of scientists undertook a research study on fear in England during the Second World War. During nightly air bombardments in London, when entire neighbourhoods were being destroyed, researchers checked people in the streets for anxiety levels. They also tested people living in the rural areas where there was no bombing. Surprisingly, the rural people showed higher anxiety levels than the city dwellers. Why? The city people accepted the bombings as a regular event and adjusted their lives to cope with them. Meanwhile, the rural people worriedabout the possibility of being bombed, and the unpredictability of such thing caused them more fear and anxiety.

Many studies show that people are mostly afraid of familiar objects or everyday situations. For examples, there are more people suffering from phobias of spiders and birds than those suffering from fear of snakes. There are more people afraid of dying in an airplane crash than by bombing.

Since humans have an unlimited imagination, we can have phobias of practically anything. I recall a gentleman who was afraid of looking at the angles of buildings. In order to avoid a panic attack, he would draw a circle on a notepad and stare at it until he calmed down. A woman was afraid of vomiting or seeing others vomit. She was always on guard to avoid all those foods that she was certain that could cause her vomit. Another young woman had to liquefy everything to drink because was afraid of swallowing solid foods. She feared that a piece of solid food would get stuck in her throat and that she would die of asphyxiated.

Some fears and phobias may appear “strange” or “weird” to others. However, they are very much real to those who suffer them. Anything could cause an anxiety reaction and, therefore, limit people’s lives.