This one time, I almost drowned...

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To define something as ambiguous as fear, it has taken scientists many years of research. While there seems to be an understanding of the physiological effects of fear, it is the neural paths and connections that seem to produce indefinable effects. But, by taking a different view of fear, we can gain an overall understanding. From the evolutionary standpoint, it's theorized that fear is a response designed to keep an organism alive in less than savory situations. But, how does that work? It is by learning and responding to stimuli that warn us of the dangers we encounter via neural pathways to our amygdala, which interprets the input and decides how significant the stimulus is and to trigger an emotional response. However, fear goes beyond even feelings and emotions in a moment, it is also the specific memory of the emotion from similar events. After a shocking experience, most people remember the logical reasons for the experience, like the time and place, but will also relive the memory, and their body will react as such.
I know this is something I've experienced myself. So, one time my family and I went on vacation in Thailand during the Monsoon season. We decided to go out one day on a little pleasure cruise in the Gulf of Thailand. It was an idyllic day with perfect weather and smooth waters, and we were having a great day. We got out quite a ways from shore and we saw that the sky was changing from the placid state it was, to a tempestuous gray. The water started to get pretty choppy, and we were having a relatively difficult time getting back to shore. Then all of a sudden a wave hit the boat and I fell out. I remember it so vividly, falling out, and crashing below the surface of the water. My heart raced, pulse quickened, and I fought for breath as I sank lower and lower. It felt like an eternity in the water, but I finally resurfaced, having been genuinely fearful for my life. Just remembering this whole ordeal and writing about it causes this physiological response, like I'm reliving the whole ordeal over again. And that's sort of what the amygdala does, the almond shaped structure stores feelings of memory. It is through the amygdala that we access these split second decisions based on the experiences we've had. It is thanks to the amygdala that I harbor some fear of going out on open water. And I'm sure it explains a lot of people's fears. Anyone have a story similar to mine, where you can relive it mentally and physically? Or have something else to say?

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I wrote a blog similar to this and I know exactly how you felt! It's some pretty scary stuff.

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This page contains a single entry by joh07995 published on October 2, 2011 11:33 PM.

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