Student’s fears


Jörg Röse-Oberreich

Everyone has a fear. (Vic/ Flickr)

Brooke Orenstein

Having a fear is a unique experience and aspect in everyone’s lives. Fear is defined as, “A feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone.” But what truly causes these fears? How can we overcome them?

Recent poll of Students at the Weber School. (Brooke Orenstein/The RamPage.)

Avi Young, a sophomore, has a fear of dogs. “My fear started when my cousin’s dog bit me when I was around 5 years old. Since then I have had a fear of dogs. This fear affects my daily life because it causes me to be tense around dogs at friends houses. I have tried to like dogs, but it is too hard.”

Shira Brown, another sophomore at Weber, has a fear of germs. Shira exclaimed, “It’s like I can almost see the germs surrounding me. My fear doesn’t control my life but it definitely gets brought up almost every day- I’ve thought about it less most recently but whenever I’m with my sister she always questions things and makes me doubtful of my cleanliness.”

“Fear is programmed into the nervous system and and acts like an instinct.” It begins from when one is an infant. Humans have certain survival instincts that respond to fear when sensing an unsafe atmosphere or danger.

Fear can be mild, medium, intense, or extreme. This type of fear depends on the situation and the person. The feeling of fear can be brief or it can last longer.

When presented with something that scares you, the brain reacts with its “fight or flight” response. “Fight or flight is the body’s automatic response that prepares the body to “fight” or “flee” from harm or threats, in order to survive.”

A great deal of research has been done to try to answer what causes fears, but it is still unknown as there are lots of theories. Not all phobias have a direct cause. Some may be due to any sort of trauma.

A theory of causes of fear are:

  • “Learned fears occur when fears might be a categorized as a learned fear. This is something that an individual picks up on over time.
  • Physiological Influences occur when an individual views the object of fear. It can have an effect of causing it to transform into a phobia, or intensify the severity of an already existing phobia.
  • Biological Influences is something which relates to hormonal imbalances in the brain, involves insufficient levels of the hormone, serotonin, is another cause of fear.”

Since most phobias develop during childhood, people are genetically biased to develop phobias as children, as a survival mechanism. This helps them avoid “dangerous” encounters and increase the chances of reaching adulthood.

Many people think avoiding the source that causes them fear is the best way to overcome it. But, that may not be the best way. There is not always a 100% chance to ensure that one will not have to face the fear. However, most phobias are curable, though not every treatment is guaranteed to work. Some individuals require a combination of different treatments.

The main types of treatments are:

Self-help techniques

  • Some examples of self-help techniques include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-help groups, exposure therapy and virtual reality therapy. “The main difference between virtual reality therapy and traditional therapy, is when people are embodied in an avatar in a virtual world, their perception and emotional responses change to be consistent with that avatar.”

Talking treatments


  • Most of the time, medication is not normally recommended for managing or overcoming phobias and fears. Although, sometimes medication is prescribed to treat the effects of phobias like anxiety.

Some people like to exclaim that they have no fears and are not scared of anything. But, that is false, as every human being is born with a fear. The two innate fears are the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds.

Although fears are looked as a negative characteristic, they should not always be viewed like that. Having fears helps protect you. It allows us to be alert to danger and equips us to be able to deal with it. Feeling afraid is very natural and helpful in some situations. Fear can be like a warning, a signal that cautions us to be careful. It has even been a survival mechanism for humans for millions of years.