How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?
Fight-or-Flight/Freeze is a normal response to threat. The purpose is to prepare the body to deal with the threat. The brain’s alarm centre in the Limbic System directs the sympathetic nervous system, (SNS) to alert and arouse the body. Ephinephrine, (increased heart rate) and norephinephrine, (increased motor response) are released into the bloodstream and insulin (increased blood sugar), as well as cortisol – via the hypothalamus, (releases energy). These chemicals cause the body to respond appropriately by increasing your energy levels, heart rate, arousal and pain relief, (endorphins). (Charney, 2004). These responses are involuntary. Imagine if we forgot to pay attention to breathing, oops, I got distracted. However, if exposed to situations of prolonged stress, one stays in a kind of hyper-arousal state, which has a very negative effect on a person.We need to be able to return to a relaxed state, since this arousal is meant to be brief.
Learning to meditate and be mindful are ways to reduce arousal. See Meaning and Mindfulness for resources and a free How to Meditate. See some audio guided visualisations on In Mind In Body.
So frankly, if I was unable to feel fear, I am afraid I would come to a quick and unpleasant end. Thank goodness for the involuntary responses of the sympathetic nervous system.
Reference: Charney, DS. 2004. Psychobiological mechanisms of resilience and vulnerability:
implications for successful adaptation to extreme stress. American Journal of
Do read Jon Kabat-Zinn, (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Dell Publishing. New York, NY.
See a You Tube video here: Single most important thing you can do to reduce stress. It’s great! Thinking and mindfulness, being in the moment. Also, creating a personal story, a personal narrative really helps. Doing good also helps. Thoughts and attitudes are key.
For more cool stuff like this video see Evans Health Lab.
Viktor Frankl would agree with the view expressed in this video:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl Also the idea that between stimulus and response there is a space. In this space one can choose one’s response.
Image by: Graham Crumb – Amazing Black and White and other photography – Creative Commons Attribution here: Imagicity
Fight or flight image from: Stress Physiology by George Everly
Here is a great resource on Wiki How: How to Calm your Fear Reactions.