Differences between fear, fear and phobias

It is common that people do not know how to differentiate the terms fear, fear and phobia. All of them maintain a close relationship due to the similarities they have, they are used to refer to the physical and emotional reactions that indicate the discomfort and rejection that is felt to certain stimuli. This means that they can be used on certain occasions.

These describe feelings and situations that make people fear to face them . In different circumstances of daily life there may be moments where people do not know how to act in a normal way, in this way they know how to differentiate when something is to their liking or on the contrary they want to avoid it.

Regardless of the type of fear a person experiences, this is a paralyzing sensation that also conditions thought and behavior . Fears appear throughout a person’s life and generally do not interfere in the course of it, however in some cases pathological fears difficult to explain and control develop, turning into phobias.

Fear and fear coincide to describe physical and emotional sensations, at a cognitive level, people who experience fear in different ways. It could be said that the difference between the two terms depends in part on the intensity of these sensations , but the symptoms that manifest must also be taken into account, suggesting whether this fear is normal or unreal.

Then we performed an analysis of each of these terms in order to find points that match and what are their differences. To do this, we will proceed to describe its characteristics and finally make a comparison.

What is fear?

Fear is defined as a normal emotion that tells people to avoid a certain danger. It can also be defined as an intuition or perception that guarantees survival in different situations or contexts. It is considered that not only human beings experience fear, practically most of the species of living beings that inhabit the planet possess this capacity.

Fear allows us to identify which are the situations from which it is due to move away or defend. It arises as an automatic response to a stimulus that has been classified as threatening, however on some occasions this perception can be exaggerated, which leads to the development of a phobia.

This is an innate emotion that is not necessarily learned, therefore it is not something that is learned from previous situations. However, experience can add information that is stored in people’s minds and associated with this emotion. In this way, it will be learned that certain situations could violate the integrity of the person.

From the point of view of psychology it is considered that it makes up a wide spectrum of human emotion. It is a fundamental element because it is important as an adaptive function, it is considered that without it the survival of the human race could not have been possible.

What is fear?

Fear has similarities with the concept of fear, both describe emotions and feelings that arise as a reaction to the unknown or perceived as disturbing . They could be accepted as synonymous terms, although preferably the term fear is used.

Some consider fear to be the stage prior to fear as such. This means that it can be a term used to refer to those unpleasant or uncomfortable experiences , when these same sensations disproportionately exceed their intensity is when the word fear is usually used.

It can also be considered as a warning sign, that the previous stage that occurs in the brain during the process of detecting some kind of danger. Fear is usually associated with a thought that arises in the mind that alerts the individual, later he begins to experience fear in such a way that changes in behavior begin to occur .

What are phobias?

Phobias are described as psychological disorders that are characterized by incapacitating affected people so that they cannot face specific situations. Among the multiple manifestations that are generated, the one that stands out the most is anxiety, this cannot be easily controlled and eventually intensifies, negatively affecting the patient.

Unlike fear and fear, a phobia is usually characterized by causing physiological changes that are easy to detect . Examples of this type are found in increased sweating and also in tachycardia, all of these are considered normal reactions to the phobic stimulus. You can also mention changes in behavior where people feel that they lose control of themselves.

It also stands out in phobias that they condition people’s thinking so that they perceive dangers where they might not exist. They can even become obsessed with these ideas, adopting behaviors that can be described as exaggerated and that are not appropriate to the circumstances.

Phobias are usually considered disabling disorders, this means that diagnosed patients cannot lead a normal life. Depending on the intensity with which they experience anxiety and the stress it generates, in some cases it will be impossible to perform certain actions, visit certain places or face certain situations. This means that they will face difficulties when trying to develop a normal social life, it can even have repercussions in the work and personal environment.

Similarly, phobias present behavior patterns that are not easy to interpret, but these indicate the degree of fear that the patient experiences in relation to the stimulus that is feared. Phobias are normally considered to be acquired through trauma or vicarious learning. 

What associates and differentiates them? 

These three terms are closely related because some of them allow others to be described. To understand what a phobia consists of, it is necessary to use one of the other two words, and their connection is inescapable because they refer to the same pattern of emotions and sensations that arise as a reaction to danger.

However, among the fundamental differences between these, the importance of associated responses and psychopathology stand out . This means that fear has a more tolerable degree of control for the person who experiences it, whereas fear does not facilitate thinking even though it serves as a survival mechanism. Instead, what it does is make the person act quickly to ensure that the harmful stimulus is avoided.

They also differ in how they condition some physiological changes. This means that phobias and fear as such are the only ones capable of making people react physically to the specific stimulus . These are intense changes that happen automatically and unexpectedly. Any physiological reaction stands out because of how it will affect the usual behavior of the affected person.

In the same way, it is important to mention that phobias, unlike fear, are the only ones capable of creating interference in the daily life of patients. Fear is an emotion that does not imply a high degree of affectation, the same happens with fear. But phobias cause precautions to be taken that can sometimes be unnecessary.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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