Fear is a normal human emotion. It can be a self-inflicted hinderance or a powerful motivator. Sometimes its weight crushes us to inaction. Sometimes
it lends us to misdirected hostility. Sometimes it lights a fire beneath us, making it impossible to ignore the immediate threats and problems which
, colloquially known as healthy respect, is a positive thing. It's that voice in your head saying things like 'don't walk blindly
into traffic' and 'hand-feeding a wolverine is generally a bad idea.'
is fear in the absence of potential threat, and is therefore counter-productive. Fear of the non-existant is the obvious
example. Fear of the benign, such as clowns or cracks in the floor, is clearly also irrational. Even where a real threat is present, it is possible
for a person to hold an irrational fear; as a person living in North America it would not be rational for me to fear trampling by elephants. Though
that fear could become rational if I were to travel to Africa or get a job with the circus.
When an irrational fear becomes too powerful to ignore, we call it a phobia. Merriam-Webster on the word phobia
: an exaggerated usually
inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation
Exaggerated, inexplicable, and illogical...that certainly describes heliophobia (fear of the sun), amathophobia (fear of dust), kathisophobia (fear of
sitting down), and lachanophobia (fear of vegetables). These things pose no direct threat, so to fear them is irrational.
But what about selachophobia (fear of sharks)? Virginitiphobia (fear of rape)? Spermatophobia (fear of germs)? Those things can and do cause harm to
people on a regular basis. Fear of sharks, rape, or germs is entirely rational, to a degree. When swimming in the ocean, the rational man does not
ignore the large dark shape moving toward him underwater. However, he also recognizes that not every dark shape is a shark and only a small percentage
of swimmers are bitten.
So it seems rational fears can become harmful phobias if we do not keep them in check.
This London blogger makes a clever comparison. His point is made through satire in typical British fashion. The author wrote this back in 2005, and it
is even more relevant today.
Which category does modern Islamophobia
fall under -- rational fear based on a real threat, or grossly-exaggerated and illogical phobia?
edit on 14-1-2015 by OpenMindedRealist because: (no reason given)