Friday, 22 May 2009

The Fear

I fear a lot of things. Awkward social interactions (if I think someone's going to be annoyed with me, if they've a history of being annoyed with me, if I think things are going to go badly quite quickly and so on), fire, the people I care about getting hurt, my bank balance... normal stuff. But fear is a primal reaction, isn't it? It's something we've had for years that's mean to trigger a fight or flight response and while it's possible to overcome your fear, so stare it down and make it something you don't fear any more, it's a little difficult depending on what degree of brown it may or may not inflict upon your trousers.
So why are we also afraid of really stupid things?
Triskeidekaphobia makes me wonder how neurotic we've become as a species that some people actively fear the number 13. I mean, that's in the same realm as burning people for witchcraft because they're old and have a cat, in a way. It's a superstitious throwback to an old time, surely it shouldn't dominate your life.
Phobophobia is confusing. That sounds like a perpetual motion mechanism to me. Being scared of phobias... it's like that speech about having nothing to fear but fear itself.
I wonder if there's a fear of facing your fears? A fear of not actually having any phobias? When society advances, will we have words for fear of new things? Cyborgs? Clones?

My own fears are, I feel, largely rational, but there are some very odd ones:
Butterflies - I've never been able to understand this. The way they flap in your faces freaks me the hell out. I've woken up as a child with a spider crawling on my FACE and I'm not scared of them. It was a little traumatic, too.
Pob - I can't explain this, either, but I'm probably more terrified of him than anything else. Google it, it's a puppet from an old channel 4 TV show that used to spit at the TV screen. It's by the people who made Rosie and Jim, the Teletubbies and in the night garden and every character in that night garden show has his eyes... ugh...
Rotten food - I think this relates back to a time when I didn't realise that my milk had expired, then tried to drink it 2 years ago. This one makes sense, my body should realise that this is bad food and that it shouldn't be eaten, but for it to actively make my skin crawl...

And yet we're sort of obsessed with fear. We have horror movies depicting horrible, horrible ways to die, we have theme park rides that have health warnings, we tell ghost stories and are fascinated with the odd, the strange and the surreal. I've done it myself, I've actively gone seeking things that scare me a little. Is it some desensitisation mechanism? Do we need that little rush every so often to feel more alive? Maybe we need that primal connection at times.
I hope someone, somewhere decides to start a university course on "weird shit that people do", because I'm sure this goes beyond the realm of psychology. I really am.

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