Where Does Fear Come From?

How do we learn Anxiety Responses?

The latest research shows that we learn fear reaction in two main ways:

  • Through observation or
  • Through the intergenerational transmission of anxiety reactions.

Children learn anxiety reactions when a stimulus that was indifferent to them so far (e.g. an animal) is associated with a specific non-verbal emotional reaction of a parent, e.g. with a grimace on the face. Similarly, children learn to react with anxiety to different people and in various situations. Parents transmit most of information to their children through their body language and through their reactions to environmental stimuli.

If you want your children to be freer and bolder – let pay attention to yourselves and your involuntary or hidden reactions. Therefore parents should start first - with treating their own fears and limiting stereotypes. Another way to transmit emotional reactions is through intergenerational transmission. This area of knowledge is getting better and better known. You can read more about it in the new book by Professor Agnieszka Wilczyńska entitled "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Psychology of Exclusion: from rejection to personal and social harmony." The book is available from January 2021 by Routledge.

What does fear mean:

Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion. It involves a biochemical and emotional response. Fear potentially alerts us to the threat of harm, danger situation whether that danger is physical or psychological.

Sometimes fear stems from real threats, but it can also originate from imagined dangers or from past generations. Fear can also be a symptom of some mental health conditions including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some people are adrenaline seekers, thriving on extreme sports or watching thrillers. Others have a negative reaction to the feeling of fear, avoiding fear-inducing situations at all costs. Although the physical reaction is the same, the experience of fear may be perceived as either positive or negative, depending on the person.

Talk to your Clinical Psychologist if you are experiencing persistent and excessive feelings of fear. Depending on your symptoms, your Doctor may diagnose you with a type of anxiety disorder, such as a phobi

Symptoms of fear:

  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Upset stomach

In addition people may experience psychological symptoms of being overwhelmed, upset, feeling out of control, or a sense of impending death.

One aspect of anxiety disorders can be inclination to develop a fear of fear. A phobia is a distortion of the normal fear response. Most of people experience fear only during a situation that is perceived as scary or threatening. Others those who live with anxiety disorders may become afraid that they will experience a fear reaction. They perceive their fear reactions as negative and go out of their way to avoid those responses.

The fear is directed toward an object or situation that does not present a real danger. Though you recognize that the fear is unreasonable, you can't help the reaction. Over time, the fear tends to worsen as the fear of fear response takes hold.

Roots of Fear are not unequivocal. Some fears may be a result of experiences or trauma (conscious or unconscious), while others may represent a fear of something different, such as a loss of control. Fears may cause physical symptoms, such as being afraid of heights because they make you feel dizzy and sick to your stomach.

Examples of fear triggers:

Certain specific objects or situations like spiders, snakes, heights, flying, etc
Future events
Imagined events
and others.


  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Agoraphobia

If You or your Loved one are struggling with fears, phobias, or anxiety, contact the Clinical Psychologist at KindCare Medical Center.

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