A tall man in a long black coat is seen walking past the window of an elementary school with a large brief case. That sentence is enough to make almost any American’s skin crawl for a moment. Change the word man to woman, and all of those uncomfortable feelings change to normal and nothing out of the ordinary. How can this be? Everyone has experienced that unpleasant sensation of fear creeping into their bodies at least one time in their life. Maybe it was watching a horror movie or walking through an unfamiliar part of town at night, but this sensation is unlike any other feeling that humans can produce. It can become the most important survival instinct that a person can rely on. Although, in our day and age, as Dr. Karl Albrecht states, "Fear seems to have gotten a bad rap amongst most human beings." Fear is certainly not the most popular feeling and emotion that occurs in humans. People today view fear as a nuisance, and it tends to be regarded as a quality of the weak and helpless. With the education of knowing that fear is essential, people would discover that fear can quickly become any human’s most valuable resource. An analysis of fear, and recognizing its importance, confirms why fear is still needed in humans for survival today.
To the uneducated eye, fear may seem uncontrollable, and is usually explained by seeing, hearing, or feeling something “scary” or “creepy”. In reality, it is a very complicated biological process that starts a chain reaction throughout the entire body. The brain begins a cascade of multiple events that allows chemicals to be released in order to start the fight-or-flight response (Layton). The brain is very complex and it is constantly transmitting information subconsciously, therefore, fear is developed by multiple parts of the brain. Layton defines the five most important and crucial parts:
The thalamus decides where to send incoming sensory data (from eyes, ears, mouth, skin), the sensory cortex interprets sensory data, the hippocampus stores and retrieves conscious memories, it processes sets of stimuli to establish context, the amygdala decodes emotions, determines possible threat, and stores fear memories, and the hypothalamus activates the "fight or flight" response. (1)
These five sections of the brain are crucial to surviving because they only act when there is a reason to have fear. The sections are always on guard subconsciously looking for possible threats or dangers that should impose fear to a human.
Of the five sections of the brain, two of them, the hippocampus and the amygdala, are the two main fear processes. These sections remember things that could be dangerous and life threatening, and when they see something that matches, for example, a spider or a snake, they tell the other parts of the brain to prepare to go into a certain survival mode, hence the flight-or-fight response. These parts of the brain are designed specifically for human survival, and they have evolved over time to fear...