Understanding and Overcoming Fears: Psychology of Fear

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Text comes from: Endlich Angstfrei: Begegne deinem inneren Kind und besiege deine Angst (2017) from Marie-France & Emmanuel Ballet de Coquereaumont, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Every second person suffers from excessive fears. Fear is a key emotion. It acts like an alarm system that comes from the limbic system or emotional brain. What can you do about them?

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Marie-France & Emmanuel Ballet de Coquereaumont Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®

Marie-France and Emmanuel Ballet de Coquereaumont are psychotherapists.


How does fear arise in the brain

There is a veritable cerebral cycle of fear. First the senses alert the amygdala (the "almond kernel"), the seat of the unconscious fear memory, then the hippocampus evaluates this alarm and compares it to previous experiences. Finally, the prefrontal cortex controls the automatic fear reactions and selects taking into account the sensory, emotional, personal and cultural information. Excessive fears are now attributed to overactivity of the amygdala.

The fear of emotion is therefore a complex combination of biological mechanisms and memories. The fear occurs in the context of a story, a situation or a scenario. This emotion is rooted in the biography (according to the theory of the American psychologist Silvan Tomkins, the affect is biological, the feeling is psychological and the emotion is biographical). This opens up a completely new path that captures fears in a different light and is based on innovative concepts that are little or not known to the public.

Life as an orderly system

In 2007, American physicist Graham Fleming and his research group from the University of California and the Berkeley Lab demonstrated that photosynthesis (the bioenergetic process that allows plants and certain bacteria to produce organic matter using sunlight) was one of the most fundamental Processes of life, not regulated by a precisely definable factor, but by the relationship between different molecules. This discovery confirms that life in all its forms is organized in a system that is influenced by numerous relationships. James Cameron's science fiction film Avatar has had phenomenal success. It describes a planet Pandora on which all living things, plants and animals live in a symbiosis, connected by a huge neural network.

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The indigenous people, the Na'vis, are threatened by the mining of raw materials by greedy people. With the help of all living species, the Na'vis manage to save their world. Just like Pandora, Planet Earth is an organism on which the different forms of life are linked and on which life is a cooperative process. If you think of life as a network of relationships, you will quickly see that everything is connected. When I am afraid, it is not just my individual emotion, because I am also sensitive to the emotions of others, which can influence my feelings and my actions. My own emotions are always related to my behavior and my environment. Under the pressure of fear, people lose contact with their full potential. Its vitality is weakened by the energy-consuming fear. It limits the connection, that is, the relationship with yourself and others.

The brain is empathic and social

Man is extremely sensitive to everything around him. This ability is directly related to the Spiegelneurons that play an essential role in relationships. They make it possible to feel sympathy, empathy and compassion for others. Previously it was assumed that these neurons were found exclusively in the prefrontal area of ​​the brain. However, it has recently been shown that they are actually everywhere in the brain. These neurons play a key role in child development. During the first three years of life, a child uses their empathic brain to develop a strong bond with their parents.

A healthy bond, that is, a bond that is nurtured by care and love, enables him to practice security, trust, and courage to venture out into the world. If, on the other hand, a child lacks attention and tenderness, a hurtful relationship with father or mother develops that offers little security. The SpiegelIn this case, the child's neurons ensure that it takes on the negative feelings that the parents may experience. The parent-child bond is the child's first relationship experience. It serves as a model of interpersonal relationships for life.

Develop yourself in cultivating relationships

If I grew up with an anxious mother, I will be more insecure. In my relationships I will therefore be more receptive to a person who seems to give me more security or who on the contrary creates fear or fear in me. This first archetype of relationship has a great influence on future relationships. In the relationship with another person for whom our brain has special abilities, we can express what is right, healthy and good for us. The greatest fears are related to relationships with other people and the difficulty of really being yourself in the midst of others. One subconsciously asks what is at stake in relationships with others. Even as an adult, you shouldn't stop learning relationships, because everything indicates that you can develop in the cultivation of relationships, that is, in the way you connect with yourself, with others and with the world occurs.

The psyche is diverse In everyday life, everyone has a simplified picture of their psychological functions. When I express myself, my self appears to be fully and personally involved. When I am afraid, it is I who am afraid and my whole being feels fear. This perception is a response to the need to feel complete and unified, but the psyche is diverse.

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The psyche is a system of different sub-personalities

The psyche is based on relationships. It is divided into many areas that act like independent people with their own emotions and motivations. They have intensive conversations with each other that express relaxed or conflict-laden relationships. This is not a symptom of an identity disorder. The psyche is a system that is made up of numerous sub-personalities that are constantly interrelated.

Fear is part of this system. At the center of this psychological diversity is a higher authority, the self *. It is the inner pilot. He can communicate with the entire system and consciously choose a way in which he wants to feel, perceive, decide and live in greater harmony. The inner pilot knows no fear and will never get to know her. It is a basic tool to learn to overcome fears.

Our inner child

A child lives in every heart forever The idea that childhood is only a stage of development and belongs to the past is still widespread. It assumes that humans have to grow in order to mature and become intelligent. In this view, the child appears as an immature and infantile being who demands educational principles in order to be "corrected" and "improved". For the child and adolescent psychiatrist Michel Lemay, "it may still take time before the child is seen differently than a preliminary stage of the adult [...], as an unfinished subject that still has to go through various stages in order to reach adult maturity" .

Many aspects of the true self express themselves in childhood. The Italian doctor and educator Maria Montessori recalls that adulthood and childhood are "two different forms of human life that take place simultaneously and influence each other". In order to better understand this closeness to childhood, the view must be given that people develop linearly. This perception would correspond to a life that takes place on a straight timeline from birth in the past to a goal in the future:

Birth ➨ Infancy ➨ Childhood ➨ Adolescence ➨ Adulthood

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Human development as a concentric model

In fact, however, human development is more like a concentric model, like a tree that preserves the different ages as annual rings at the heart of its trunk. At every stage of its development, the healthy child inherently has an innate emotional and moral intelligence. Of course, it has essential needs, but it is endowed with specific creative powers. It unfolds with support, security, love and freedom. According to this model, the child is the heart of our being.

The inner child * keeps the memory of childhood experiences with its natural being and injuries. The drama of this inner child is that it is forced to exile to give way to a child who is increasingly adapted to family, social and cultural constraints. However, the inner child remains forever in everyone's heart. It is waiting for a rapprochement with the adults. It turns out to be crucial to re-establish empathic ties with this child. This is the only way to free yourself from fear, to live more relaxed and authentic relationships and to discover your self *.

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