Is Fear A Completely Useless Emotion?

Is Fear A Completely Useless Emotion?

Is Fear A Completely Useless Emotion?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to share the real story of a woman who has no fear as the example to reveal that fear is not a useless emotion.

First a quick update:

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Now, let’s talk about the real story of a woman who has no fear as the example to reveal that fear is not a useless emotion.

How many times have you come across a social media post or quote stating how useless particular emotions are?

For example, I recently came across a post that said guilt is the most useless emotion in the universe. And another post said a very similar thing about fear.

Whilst the intention of the author behind each of these messages might be to encourage us to experience no fear and no guilt in the hope of becoming more powerful, determined, happy, and successful in life, these sorts of teachings reflect a complete lack of understanding of the purpose and usefulness of each of the emotions, and, they are actually destructive teachings.

Every emotion has a benefit as well as a purpose.

As I’ve stated in various articles and videos about guilt, guilt is part of our conscience. If we had no guilt we would have no remorse and no problem in hurting other people or breaking our own moral code in order to get what we want.

It is guilt which also acts like a guide or compass.

Once we have done something wrong to someone else and hurt someone else, and we’ve registered that consciously, then we have the option to learn from that mistake and to make a better choice in the future.

We would not and could not register the hurt we have caused unless we experienced guilt. It is empathy that also leads us to feel guilty for our actions, and without empathy we would be narcissistic.

Of course, holding onto guilt for a long time instead of responding it appropriately is also damaging because it leads to self-loathing and self-sabotage.

What then about fear?

Is fear a completely useless emotion?

New Age teachings state the same thing – that fear is a useless emotion.

Again this is false and when taken to an extreme, is actually a dangerous teaching.

I understand if you experience extreme fear and anxiety, the desire to completely eradicate fear is something you would welcome – even though you might not be consciously aware of the actual ramifications of a complete lack of fear – as I will explain and reveal shortly.

Fear serves a positive purpose: it ensures our survival.

It is only when fear is taken to an extreme that the fear becomes crippling instead of empowering or beneficial.

So what would it be like to have no fear whatsoever?

Such a person actually exists.

And all that is required to have no fear whatsoever is for your amygdalae (part of the limbic system in the brain) to become inoperative.

And what are the consequences?

A woman referred to as “Patient SM” has Urbach-Wiethe disease (less than 300 cases have been reported since its discovery.) The disease renders her amygdalae effectively inoperative, and she has been studied by researchers for almost 25 years.

SM can feel, experience, and even read on other people all emotions – except fear. She cannot feel fear. Her IQ is normal; she simply does not feel fear, panic or anxiety.

Isn’t this a good thing?

SM has been held at gunpoint on one occasion; a knife held to her throat on another occasion, and was almost killed in a domestic violence incident, but she felt nothing at all – not even a hint of panic.

While it can be argued that not experiencing panic is somewhat beneficial, the lack of fear continues to draw her to dangerous situations. She also lives in a poor area full of crime.

A person who has bilateral amygdala damage would have no obstacle to gambling or taking a bet where he/she could lose everything he/she has, even when fully aware of the all of the risks involved.

Researchers took SM to an exotic pet store and exposed her to live snakes and spiders. Because SM can feel no fear, she was driven by curiosity and had to be prevented from touching a tarantula; she gladly held large snakes for several minutes and asked if she could hold other snakes that were even more dangerous, even though she stated that she hates snakes.

Researchers subjected her to the scariest classic movies (e.g., The Blair Witch Project, The Shining, and The Silence of the Lambs) and again, SM did not respond with any fear, although she experienced other emotions such as happiness and disgust.

Without the ability to experience fear, SM is not aware of dangerous situations.

“[SM]’s behavior, time and time again, leads her back to the very situations she should be avoiding, highlighting the indispensable role that the amygdala plays in promoting survival by compelling the organism away from danger. Indeed, it appears that without the amygdala, the evolutionary value of fear is lost.” – Justin Feinstein, lead researcher at University of Iowa, studying Patient SM

Fear is a part of the Fight or Flight Response and is necessary for our survival.

How does fear impact you?

Does the fear paralyze you, make you want to fight, or does it make you want to run away?

Fear paralyses us in life when it is applied to situations that do not warrant fear or when the fear is not appropriate or is disproportionate to the situation or challenge.

Ask yourself: Is the fear in this situation appropriate and useful, or does it stop me from reaching my goals and dreams in life? Do I need caution and preparation for the challenge rather than fear?

Remember, when applied appropriately, even the so-called ‘negative’ emotions have a positive purpose and role.

If you would like personal help to overcome crippling fear, anxiety or panic attacks, book a one-on-one session with me.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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