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Differences Between Fear And Anxiety Essay

1032 words - 5 pages

1.(SID# 32250) Describe the differences and similarities between fear and anxiety.

The average layperson might use the terms fear and anxiety interchangeably. To behavioral scientists, however, fear and anxiety are two distinct emotional conditions and therefore require different forms of treatment.
Fear is defined as an intense and unpleasant emotional state aroused by anticipation or awareness of a specific threat. Anxiety is a diffuse, unpleasant, vague sense of apprehension, a diffuse feeling of uneasiness accompanied by a generalized sense of impending disaster. It is a response to an imprecise or unknown threat. (Kaplan and Sadock)
Fear is aroused in the presence of real or ...view middle of the document...

Another factor which distinguishes fear from anxiety is the behaviors which they elicit. Fear is related to specific behaviors of escape and avoidance. The object of fear is identified and the body prepares to physically defend itself or flee from the offending object. That object will be consciously avoided in the future. In the case of the hiker, his fear would probably prompt him to flee or attempt to somehow outwit the bear.
Anxiety on the other hand, is associated with a perceived loss of control. Hence the subject is unable to respond in an adaptive way. This loss of control is compounded by the inability on the part of the subject to identify the source of the threat. It is therefore difficult if not impossible to formulate a clear plan of action to deal with the threat.
Still another interesting distinction is the divergent effects of anxiety and fear on pain. According to a study conducted by Mary Meagher and cited in a 2001 edition of Science Daily, a person’s ability to feel pain could be influenced by fear and anxiety. According to Meagher, anxiety enhances the sensation of pain while fear inhibits it. These responses, she asserts, make sense from an evolutionary perspective since pain will diminish a body’s ability to respond to the high level of threat associated with fear while survival in the low level threat situation requires enhances ability to sense pain.
Despite their obvious differences, the physical symptoms of fear and anxiety are remarkably similar and there is a considerable degree of overlap between the two states. In the case of the hikers, both experienced typical responses to fear or anxiety. The heart rate of both the fearful and the anxious person becomes rapid, the muscles become tense and the subject may sweat profusely and experience loose bowels. There is sleeplessness, loss of appetite and tremours. So alike are they that anxiety is referred to, even by experts, as vague fear and fear is often a symptom of anxiety. In fact, a person’s anxiety may crystallize around a particular object which is then treated as an object of fear.
Another similarity, most researchers seem to agree, is...

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