Table of contents:
- OUR PSYCHOLOGY: Maria Anatolyevna, I have heard this point of view from ordinary people (not psychologists) more than once: all fears in us are "laid down" by our parents. Is it really?
- NP: I often note in a wide variety of people such types of fears as the banal fear of the dark, dread of making an important decision, and fear of the prospect of changing jobs. Where do they come from?
- NP: I immediately remembered a lot of acquaintances with whom everything developed exactly this way. But do fears always only hinder us?
- NP: There is a perception that women have more fears than men. Supposedly we often "make an elephant out of a fly." It's true?
- NP: There are a lot of both men and women who "like to be afraid" in movies, they like horror films. What is the reason for this craving?
- NP: Can horror or extreme films be viewed as training for a weak nervous system?
- NP: Could you please explain in more detail - what is a “weak nervous system”? And how to understand who is weak and who is not?
- NP: What should I do if I suddenly realized that I have a weak nervous system?
Video: What's In The Dark? - Self-development
When we look at the fearless on-screen characters, we admire how they succeed in everything - feat, love, and career - sometimes we so want to become like these heroes. We want to stop being afraid of changes in life or enroll in courses that relieve the fear of heights. Come on, what is already there, at least with a childish fear of darkness, it's time to say goodbye! But not all of them succeed. So what are our fears? Where do they come from? How to deal with them? Are they always "hindrances"?
Maria PADUN - Candidate of Sciences in Psychology, Senior Researcher at the Laboratory of Psychology of Post-Traumatic Stress at the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, practicing psychologist, psychotherapist.
OUR PSYCHOLOGY: Maria Anatolyevna, I have heard this point of view from ordinary people (not psychologists) more than once: all fears in us are "laid down" by our parents. Is it really?
MARIA PADUN: This is true, but only partially. Fears have a complex biopsychosocial nature, that is, the characteristics of the nervous system, and the influence of upbringing, and the impact of society (for example, reporting a disaster) are involved in their formation.
Fears are inherent in our biological nature, and the predisposition to experience fear is individual for everyone. It is known that if relatives have some kind of anxiety disorders, then the child is more likely to develop anxiety and fear. But the genetic factor is not strong enough to fully explain the differences in how people experience fear.
Now, back to family and upbringing: a lot really depends on how and in what conditions we develop in childhood. If the child constantly sees reactions of fear in the family (for example, the mother is panicking because he has a fever, the father is worried that he cannot get through to the mother for five minutes), the little person transfers this experience from the outside to the inside … For example, he will think: "If my temperature rises, something terrible will happen." As an adult, a person demonstrates the same thing: if it is impossible to get through, he starts to panic, because for him it means that something bad has happened.
But if it so happened that an anxious mother had a child with a very strong nervous system, perhaps he will not bear these panic reactions to such an extent. Not all anxious mothers have anxious children. But the general pattern is still present.
There is such a concept in psychology as attachment patterns. There are several types of them. For example, if a parent is sufficiently balanced, can cope with his own stress and help his daughter or son in regulating his internal stress, then the child has, let's say, internal support. The baby develops an idea of the world as a good, safe place to live. He doesn't expect bad events. Accordingly, when such a child grows up and is alone, he already carries with him the image of this balanced adult within himself, in his beliefs and ideas.
But there are other attachment patterns as well. For example, when an adult is detached from a child, he does not feel at what moment he is afraid. Or if the parent is too anxious to deal with their emotions, then the child usually does not feel safe.
NP: I often note in a wide variety of people such types of fears as the banal fear of the dark, dread of making an important decision, and fear of the prospect of changing jobs. Where do they come from?
MP: In my opinion, the fear of the dark is to a greater extent associated with ideas about uncertainty, unpredictability, and the danger of the world. "I can't see, so I can't control." That is, the basis is, perhaps, precisely the fear of losing control and the inability to withstand the state of uncertainty, ignorance that is hidden there in the darkness. Although, when it comes to children, it is worth remembering that their fear of the dark is reinforced by a rich imagination.
As for the thrill of making decisions or changing jobs (it seems to me that the second fear comes from the first), these are fears about the future. Any person lives in time: he has a past that he has already integrated into his life, there is a present and there is a certain future. It is a perspective of life, a support for a person. The future is always of great value. All people want the future to be good. And the fear of having a bad, unsuccessful future - this is the fear of making decisions and generally accepting any changes in life. For example, now I will change jobs, and the new one will be worse, and my future will be worse than it could have been.
There are people who are literally blocked by such fear, and they cannot take a step forward - there are too many doubts and fears. Unfortunately, this often leads to psychological problems: depression, various addictions, and more.
More about this
Shcherbatykh Yu. V. Psychology of fear. Popular encyclopedia.
M.: Eksmo-Press, 2007.
NP: I immediately remembered a lot of acquaintances with whom everything developed exactly this way. But do fears always only hinder us?
MP: Depending on the level of intensity, fear can both help and hinder. The fear of being hit by a car makes us look around carefully when crossing the street. We think for a long time before making an important decision. To be completely fearless means constantly putting your life in danger. Fears are needed, they perform a protective function.
NP: There is a perception that women have more fears than men. Supposedly we often "make an elephant out of a fly." It's true?
MP: In general, yes. Ladies are more prone to anxiety and depressive disorders. There are various explanations for this, ranging from the peculiarities of female physiology and ending with social theories. For example, there is a feminist theory that women have many roles, and in this regard, they experience constant emotional overload.
NP: There are a lot of both men and women who "like to be afraid" in movies, they like horror films. What is the reason for this craving?
MP: Well, what is the reason for the desire, for example, to jump with a parachute? This is also a kind of challenge, an action that requires overcoming fear. The man is afraid, but he walks and jumps. The fact is that, simultaneously with fear, he experiences a lot of positive emotions - delight, drive, thrill, inspiration, fun. And this turns out to be more important than fear. I think something similar happens when watching thrillers. The man asks himself: can I cope with this, watch this film to the end? And if he manages to overcome himself, then he can experience pleasure or even euphoria, the so-called "thrill".
However, it is believed that watching thrillers helps people explain their negative emotions to themselves: “I’m afraid because I’m watching a scary movie” (and not because in principle I feel anxious and unhappy).
NP: Can horror or extreme films be viewed as training for a weak nervous system?
MP: I tend to think that people with a strong predisposition to fear do not seek thrills. The overstimulation of the nervous system, which occurs when watching a thriller or during a parachute jump, is excessive for them. Overcoming fears that interfere in everyday life is another matter - for example, many are afraid of the metro, flights, elevators. Here, indeed, the only way to overcome fear is to “look into its eyes,” that is, exercise, gradually approaching the object of fear.
NP: Could you please explain in more detail - what is a “weak nervous system”? And how to understand who is weak and who is not?
MP: It is better to ask this question to physiologists. Psychologists usually talk about emotionality as a characteristic of temperament. For example, neuroticism is an indicator of high emotional reactivity, a predisposition to negative affects.
Observing yourself and other people, you can first pay attention to this: there are people who have more acute arousal reactions from birth. For example, these are children predisposed to negative reactions, they are more often afraid, more stuck on some negative emotions. Such children cannot live according to a certain schedule, they are often unbalanced.
NP: What should I do if I suddenly realized that I have a weak nervous system?
MP: Here, of course, you need to consider each case individually. But for people with high rates of neuroticism, high mental stress is quite risky. A state of exhaustion, stress may occur. This will be expressed in depression, irritability, fatigue, increased anxiety, and so on. People with this psychological vulnerability should not overload themselves emotionally. This does not mean that they are "abnormal" or "wrong." Often such people are talented in areas where sensitivity and impressionability are required. You should not fight with increased emotionality (especially since it is useless), it is enough to take it into account as an individual feature.