This post is a revised and expanded version of an earlier story, “How Inner Fear Becomes Our Worst Nightmare.”
Some people like digging around in the past—geologists, historians, archeologists, and genealogists—because the past is the foundation of the present and has a lot to tell us. Our own past in early childhood is also worthy of study because, for one thing, it has a lot to tell us about the levels of fear that permeate society.
Much is said and written about fear, yet seldom is it traced to its irrational psychological core. To overcome this inner fear, we have to see its existence in our psyche instead of denying it or trying to justify it by imagining Armageddon or “seeing” evil intent in others. Deeper insight makes us more conscious of our fear’s irrationality.
It’s easy to stoke our fears because we all have inner fears that have an infantile basis. Toddlers can burst out crying when getting a haircut, seeing a costumed character at the fair, even when meeting a neighbor’s new puppy. Children can also have fears of darkness, of falling, being dropped, chopped to pieces, accosted by bogey-men, and flushed down the toilet. We can also recognize that fear is an instinctive remnant of humankind’s early history when primitive conditions made the environment more immediately dangerous. [Read more…]