The Danger Detector

There is research going on that claims the danger detector in the brain is the part called the amygdala. A woman who has a disease that has wiped out her amygdala claims she feels no fear, even when a man held a knife to her throat and said he would kill her. Of course, if she had normal reactions to fear generating situations, like being called over by a drugged up looking man in a park at night, she might not need to feel fear (or not) in the first place.

Fear is a healthy emotion as it keeps us wary and helps us avoid a lot of trouble and danger. There is a sensible reason why most people hate sharks, snakes, spiders and other dangerous creatures. The hate is the expression of the fear we experience because these creatures could, if they chose, harm us. Fear is a major part of why many of us are xenophobic or even racist. There was a time in history when it was not irrational to hate or be wary of someone because they looked different to you in their dress, skin tone and behaviour or language.

While today we need to update our emotions to better reflect the civilizing advances the world has enjoyed in recent generations, there are still many ways we can get hurt waiting to have their turn. No need to be paranoid, that is taking healthy fear too far. Just be aware and on guard and don’t go handling too many snakes or spiders.

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