posted on Apr, 14 2015 @ 08:03 PM
What is the purpose of Fear? While I can see a metaphysical reason (lets say, to give one a sense of the value of love), from an evolutionary,
scientific perspective, the purpose of FEAR (capitalized to emphasize its mechanism in the brain-body) is to get the organism AWAY from the threat to
What happens when the human being perceives fear? First, phenomenologically, the person feels an intense eruption of feeling in the body. The feeling
one feels - which feels like a liquid iron - is the flow of adrenaline and cortisol. The purpose of these hormones is simple: break down fats for the
purpose of muscle activation. In short, for all organisms, the perception of fear is tied to motor activity i.e to run away or fight.
But in todays day and age, in such a cerebral, diplomatic, and stationary environment, when someone feels FEAR, do they burn it off - as their body
expects to happen - in the form of muscle movements? No, we don't. And this is what scientists would refer to as a 'mismatch' between present day
environments and environments of evolutionary adaptedness: that is, the environments are body's have evolved within.
This is a serious issue as any activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axix SHOULD be tied into motor movements. So, should we really be
surprised that physical activity promotes serotonin excretion? This is exactly as it should be - in terms of our body's expectations of an
environmental situation - whenever stress happens (HPA axis, cortisol, adrenaline) there SHOULD BE motor movement, i.e. running or fighting.
But in our world, this isn't what happens when we become stressed. When our HPA axis is activated, we do not engage in rapid motor movement, but
engage in more of the same stuff that likely triggered the response: thinking.
This is absolutely hilarious if you really think about it. In becoming human - in really taking advantage of the cognitive implications of human
symbolic abilities - human beings unwittingly, but truly, have screwed up the nature of the stress response system.
How many people suffer today with thinking and depression, without doing what their bodies expect to bring themselves back to a neurochemical
equilibrium? Also, most fears aren't actually existential i.e. a direct threat to life. No. Most of our fears are imaginary and in our head; often,
are fears of our own thoughts and feelings. And this creates an ungodly feedback loop between FEAR and the anxiety it produces in the nervous system;
both peripheral, in the intense anxious feelings in the limbs and viscera; as well as central, with the worries and fears in the consciously thinking
This is the loop which leads to psychosis and suicide. The body and mind becomes so dysregulated - never discharging the anxiety in the motor
movements which would restore normal serotonin levels - and so the body, overtime, is over-burderned so that even a normal release of the adrenaline
in the limbs would not do much in fixing a serotonin system that is weakened and disordered. The thinking mind will still feel the depression in its
limbs; and so become susceptible to the perception of fear (reactivating the FEAR system).
This is why evolutionary theory is important from a mental health perspective. When we don't remember and pay attention to how the body evolved, we
don't live and act in ways in tune with our body's. When we feel stress, we need to run it off. If something makes us scared, do yourself a favor
and regulate your neurochemistry by doing a few jumping jacks.