Psychologytoday.com has this definition for fear: Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.
I do not agree with that definition, however.
To be in fear is to give people the right to be a threat to the life of someone via the character of a person being put in the hands of others—the feeling that one feels when this happens is called, “fear”. Hence, to be in fear is to be scared in relation to one’s own character. Where a person may feel scared, fear is not for a person. If a woman is in fear of sexual abuse, for example, the fear is evidence that this is a feeling that is coming due to an attack on the character of that woman where that threat poses a danger on her life. Hence, scared is one thing…and fear is a whole other thing. The current view of fear is not in regards to fear but it is in regards to being scared. The vital response in being scared is a response where a person gives an excited reaction that is negative in accepting it. Yet, with fear, the response is not excited in relation to rejecting its terms but the response is often one that a person is NOT able to reject. Although one may be scared of dangers, fear poses a danger that can be in the form of a physical harm and/or mental harm. Fear poses a danger by combining a consequence to the character of a person in relation to the person and his/her behavior and how s/he is perceived.
Where the current definition of fear tells us that fear is a vital response, I would like to mention that fear is not a vital response at all. Fear is that which is meant to influence our response and behavior using danger and/or threats. Yet, whenever we use danger and/or threats in order to influence behavior, we are necessarily merging into the area of “character”. Hence, child abuse is something that one fears: it also influences the character of the person. Bullying is something that one fears: it influences the character of the person. Fear is not a response but fear is meant to dictate a response where usually there is a previously determined “outlet” that is meant to be used as a form of control over the person. In that, to make a woman fear rape, is to have her stay home when it is dark outside, for example. As you see, fear is not a vital response in such cases. Although fear is not a vital response, it can become a vital response that is internal in nature.
In relation to “protection”, fear is that which is up for understanding. Meaning that the level of fear that one feels in connected to the level of understanding others have in relation to a situation. That in itself becomes a contradiction in relation to current fears since it places the responsibility of fear on the person who is in fear. Hence, in relation to prevention, the person in fear is often given the responsibility to avoid it only for that person to have not many choices but to submit to its terms if s/he wants to avoid it. If one was to describe the feeling of being in fear, I would say that it feels as if there is a huge lion that is about to devour the person only for that lion to be something that is wrong with the person herself. Hence, fear is that which takes a strength and attempts to weaken it within a person. Meaning that fear is usually imposed upon a person in order to control a strength that s/he has as to use it against them. In that, fear is character related.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”: This is true in regards to the fact that we can be scared of so many things in this world. To be scared is something that is part of life and part of experience. Yet, when it comes to fear, instead of feeling content in its terms and feeling good about the gains made in us having power over others, it is the fear itself that we need to fear. The existence of fear is something to fear.
When it comes to being scared, think of one who is scared of the dark. When it comes to being in fear, think of one who is afraid of being exposed. Day and night are connected to danger. At night we may be scared because it exaggerates the unexpected, not seeing creates a sense of “unfamiliarity”, and not seeing makes it harder to move safely. To take a risk is connected to character. And hence, night time is more likely to make us feel fearful in terms of how we are perceived as it is more likely to make us question our own character.
Summary: To be scared is a response to the unexpected, discomfort due to lack of familiarity, and disliked known dangers. To be fearful is to be in a position where one is carrying the responsibility over the dangerous consequences of others attacking his/her character.