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Fear is a feeling or an emotion. When a person has fear, they are afraid or scared. A person who fears something does not want it to happen. The fear response comes from sensing danger. It leads to the fight-or-flight response. In extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) there may be a freeze response or paralysis.
Fear is the body's way of protecting itself from doing things that may be dangerous. For example, if one has a fear of jumping off a cliff, he/she will not do it. This saves one from death. In this case, fear is a good thing but in others, it can be bad. An example of fear being bad is if it stops one from doing something important, like going to see a doctor. Methods of controlling phobias include facing the fear over and over so the effect of the phobia becomes less until it stops being a phobia.
There is only a small set of basic or innate emotions and fear is one of them. The fear response helps survival by triggering appropriate behavioral responses. It has been preserved throughout evolution.
- Öhman A. 2000. Fear and anxiety: Evolutionary, cognitive, and clinical perspectives. In M. Lewis & J.M. Haviland-Jones (eds) Handbook of emotions. pp. 573–593. New York: The Guilford Press.
- Olsson, A.; Phelps, E. A. (2007). "Social learning of fear". Nature Neuroscience 10 (9): 1095–1102. . .