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Phil Barker: What Is Fear? Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2022

Fear is a natural emotion prevalent in human beings as a result of anticipation of danger. It could have both positive as well as negative impacts in the life of an individual depending on a situation. It for instance puts individuals in a better position in regard to responding to danger and threats.

Nonetheless, fear could grow to an extent where it becomes unhealthy thus causing abnormal and violent behavior among individuals. This piece of work looks at the aspect of fear as illustrated in the article “Fear” by Phil Barker. The article is very informative giving various aspects that are related to fear. According to the author, there is some form of fear that is understandable and advantageous to an individual while there is also some fear that accounts for conflicts that result in war. Fear can occur in different stages.

There is real fear which is based on a real situation for instance when you get hurt or experience some pain out of a certain happening, it is automatic that you develop fear of such a happening even in future. Realistic/ possible fear on the other hand is the fear that is natural and can be seen as in individual’s effort towards avoiding threats through all means, for instance, avoiding walking at night for safety reasons.

The third form of fear is what is considered dangerous and could lead to violence and war. Barker asserts that the fear that brings about conflicts which in return lead to war or violence is the exaggerated or emotional fear. This entails a person not only remembering past fears and happenings but also associating it with current occurrences. It is closely associated with conflict as it determines an individual’s capability of handling danger or threat related situations (Barker par 2).

The author gives an elaborate explanation of the issue of fear through providing various perspectives of fear as well as the attributes associated with it including the causes, why fear matters as well as how fear can be handled. Through the information given, I strongly think that the author’s explanation is a reasonable way of enhancing our understanding on the issue of historical violence in relation to the concept of fear.

This is because the author gives a clear relationship between fear and violence and how history plays a critical role. The author first states that conflict is fuelled by unfulfilled needs and desires and the fears associated with the needs. Identity is usually a very essential aspect in every individual. For this reason, any chance of losing identity and security could result in fear for instance that related to extinction and oppression.

History has been depicted to be very crucial in creating fear especially that which is connected to violence. This is because historical or past experiences play a great role of shaping how individuals and groups of people perceive and respond to threats and any form of danger.

It therefore follows that if a person or a group has been wounded or hurt over the past, the experience affects their status today and also in future in terms of how they view fear as well as how they may tend to handle it. A good example that the author has given us is that of the tension that exist between the Palestinians and the Israelis. All the happenings that occurred between these groups often rejuvenates among the people and it has created some form of fear in the people making it difficult for them to relate in a friendly manner.

This is despite the fact that things could have changed. History creates some form of fear cycles. This is for example where a certain group is mistreated causing fear and the feeling of weakness and for this reason; they become susceptible to further discrimination or mistreatment as they believe that since they were hurt or done wrong in the past, the probability of the same happening in future is very high.

This is however exacerbated by the fact that those who endured some pain out of any occurrence tend to feel betrayed and bitter and instead of trying to accept the situation and to look for strategies of coming out of it, they stay withdrawn thus making chances of being hurt once more high.

In order to enhance our understanding on the concept of fear and how it is related to violence and war, I will give some examples. As noted earlier, historical memories play a great role in shaping an individual’s life for instance through how he or she perceives things and people. A person who was hurt in the past is more likely to be bitter and have an urge to revenge. This is usually done through violence which is connected to fear.

During childhood, there occurred some war in my hometown and I witnessed policemen arrogantly hurting people whom I considered innocent. Although we as children were not affected, the memories of the happenings are still fresh in my mind. I not only developed fear towards policemen but also some form of hatred. Up to now, I do fear them and try as much as possible not to cross my lines and have an experience with them although in the real sense, they ought to solve problems.

Another example is the historical violence that existed between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. This is evident even today where there is some way people from either group treat the others as a result of fear brought about by occurrences that transpired between the two. It is very hard to see a Catholic being comfortable among the Protestants and vice versa. This is because there is some form of fear and each group values itself to be more superior to the other hence the tension.

It is evident that fear entails a lot, not just what can be thought of at the mention of the word. Fear could be useful, for instance, in helping an individual to be more prepared concerning responding to threats and dangers. It could also be dangerous where it goes to the extreme and causes violence.

For this reason, there is dire need of leaning on the strategies of dealing with fear in an effort to avoid instances of exaggeration where it could cause negative effects not only to the victim but also to those around him or her.

Some of the strategies ought to be personal while others could be initiated by the responsible people for instance relatives and counselors. Generally one should be aware of the fear and the consequences linked with it, accept it, and identify ways to express the fear, determine the factors that contribute to fear and more so, implement strategies that could in one way or the other reduce fear.

Works Cited

Barker Phil. “Fear”. Beyond intractability, 2003. 7 September 2011 <>

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