The psychology of being scared
by Jennifer Cohron
Dec 25, 2010 | 2176 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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I read an article last week about a woman who isn’t afraid of anything.

She’s not brave; she’s brain-damaged. A genetic disorder has affected an almond-shaped organ in her brain called the amygdala.

The result, researchers say, is that she doesn’t feel fear.

Horror movies and deadly snakes don’t faze her. At a haunted house, she scared one of the monsters by poking him in the head.

President Roosevelt once told an uneasy nation that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

I can think of a few more things that should go on the list. The spouse of someone serving overseas, a parent of a newborn in the intensive care unit or a family man who just lost his job probably could, too.

On a lighter note, Zac and I were scared by a kid’s movie a couple of weeks ago.

We rented “A Christmas Carol” starring Jim Carrey because it had been years since either of us saw a good adaptation of Charles Dickens’ story.

About halfway through, Zac said exactly what I was thinking — “This is creeping me out a little bit.”

I’m not a fan of ghost stories anyway, but I didn’t expect a Disney movie to give me the willies. If I had known it was going to be so dark, I would have tried to find a copy of “The Muppet Christmas Carol” instead.

Zac and I were thankful that Wyatt wasn’t old enough to watch it with us. He’s developing enough little phobias on his own.

One of his newest ones is vacuum cleaners. I warn him that there is going to be a loud noise, but he bursts into tears every time.

Oddly enough, he isn’t afraid of the hair dryer, even though it operates at a similar decibel level.

Wyatt is also terrified of being alone. As soon as he wakes up from a nap, he sits up and looks around to make sure that we haven’t gone very far.

If he thinks he is by himself, he sticks out his bottom lip and whimpers until someone picks him up.

The way he acts, you’d think that we found him abandoned on the side of the road one day and gave him a cute name and warm place to sleep.

Sometimes I worry that I am to blame for Wyatt’s nervousness.

While I was pregnant, I was obsessive about keeping up with his movements. I convinced myself on several occasions that something had gone wrong. Then his heartbeat would be as strong as ever at my next appointment.

Wyatt is a little skittish, but he is also one tough dude.

Right now, he is learning to pull himself up on our coffee table, couch or any other furniture that can support his weight.

He has taken a couple of hard tumbles onto the carpet. So far, it seems to have hurt his pride more than his backside.

What amazes me is that he always bounces back and tries to stand again. I wonder if I could do the same.

If I were a loser at love, would I stay in the game?

If my dream job always went to someone else, would I keep filling out applications?

If I had cancer that kept coming back, would I still fight it with what little energy I had left?

I guess I’ll never know until I face a trial that forces me to show what I’m made of.

Maybe that day will come next year. There’s no guarantee that 2011 will be as good to me as 2010.

If some of us had even a hint of what the future had in store for us, we would be tempted to jump in a hole and pull the hole in after us.

But then we would miss out on all the wonderful days that make the hard times worth it.

The next time I feel afraid of what tomorrow holds, I’m going to think of Wyatt. He isn’t afraid of falling, so why should I be?

I’m going to end my last column of 2010 by plagiarizing some wise words that have been attributed to Oprah Winfrey — “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”