AskDefine | Define frightfulness

Dictionary Definition

frightfulness n : the quality of being frightful

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Noun

  1. The quality of being frightful.

Extensive Definition

Fear is an emotional response to tangible and realistic dangers. Fear should be distinguished from anxiety, an emotion that often arises out of proportion to the actual threat or danger involved, and can be subjectively experienced without any specific attention to the threatening object.
Most fear is usually connected to pain (e.g., some fear heights because if they fall, they may suffer severe injury or even die upon landing). Behavioral theorists, like Watson and Ekman, have suggested that fear is one of several very basic emotions (e.g., joy and anger). Fear is a survival mechanism, and usually occurs in response to a specific negative stimulus.

Etymology

The Old English term fǣr meant not the emotion engendered by a calamity or disaster but rather the event itself. The first recorded usage of the term "fear" with the sense of the “emotion of fear” is found in a medieval work written in Middle English and composed around 1290. The most probable explanation for the change in the meaning of the word fear is the existence in Old English of the related verb fǣran, which meant “to terrify, take by surprise.”

Varieties

Serious fear is a response to some formidable impending peril, while trifling fear arises from confrontation with inconsequential danger.
Fear can be described by different terms in accordance with its relative degrees. Personal fear varies extremely in degree from mild caution to extreme phobia and paranoia. Fear is related to a number of emotional states including worry, anxiety, terror, fright, paranoia, horror, panic (social and personal), persecution complex and dread.
Fears may be a factor within a larger social network, wherein personal fears are synergetically compounded as mass hysteria.
  • Paranoia is a term used to describe a psychosis of fear, described as a heightened perception of being persecuted, false or otherwise. This degree of fear often indicates that one has changed their normal behavior in radical ways, and may have become extremely compulsive. Sometimes, the result of extreme paranoia is a phobia.
  • Distrust in the context of interpersonal fear, is sometimes explained as the inward feeling of caution, usually focused towards a person, representing an unwillingness to trust in someone else. Distrust is not a lack of faith or belief in someone, but a feeling of warning towards someone or something questionable or unknown. For example, one may "distrust" a stranger who acts in a way that is perceived as "odd." Likewise one may "distrust" the safety of a rusty old bridge across a 100 ft drop.
  • Terror refers to a pronounced state of fear - which usually occurs before the state of horror - when someone becomes overwhelmed with a sense of immediate danger. Also, it can be caused by perceiving the (possibly extreme) phobia. As a consequence, terror overwhelms the person to the point of making irrational choices and non-typical behavior.
Fear can also affect the subconscious and unconscious mind, most notably through nightmares.
Fear can also be imagined, and the side effects can also be imagined.

Causes

Although fear is an innate response, objects of fear can be learned. This has been studied in psychology as fear conditioning, beginning with Watson's Little Albert experiment in 1920. In this study, an 11-month-old boy was conditioned to fear a white rat in the laboratory. In the real world, fear may also be acquired by a traumatic accident. For example, if a child falls into a well and struggles to get out, he or she may develop a fear of wells, enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) or of water (aquaphobia).
Researchers have found that certain fears (e.g. animals, heights) are much more common than others (e.g. flowers, clouds). They are also much easier to induce in the laboratory. This phenomenon has been called preparedness. Physiologically, the fear response is linked to activity in the amygdala of the limbic system.
The experience of fear may also be influenced by social norms and values. In the early 20th century, many people feared polio, a disease which cripples the body part it affects, leaving the body part immobilized for the rest of one's life.

References

Further reading

  • Joanna Bourke (2005), Fear: a cultural history, Virago
  • Corey Robin (2004), Fear: the history of a political idea, Oxford University Press
  • Duenwald, Mary. "The Psychology of ...Facial Expressions" Discovery Magazine Vol. 26 NO. 1
  • Krishnamurti, J. (1995), On Fear, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-251014-2

External links

frightfulness in Arabic: خوف
frightfulness in Bulgarian: Страх
frightfulness in Catalan: Por
frightfulness in Czech: Strach
frightfulness in Welsh: Ofn
frightfulness in German: Furcht
frightfulness in Estonian: Hirm
frightfulness in Modern Greek (1453-): Φόβος
frightfulness in Spanish: Miedo
frightfulness in Esperanto: Timo
frightfulness in Persian: ترس
frightfulness in French: Peur
frightfulness in Galician: Medo
frightfulness in Croatian: Strah
frightfulness in Ido: Pavoro
frightfulness in Inuktitut: ᐃᓂᖅᑐᐃᒍᑎ/iniqtuiguti
frightfulness in Icelandic: Ótti
frightfulness in Italian: Paura
frightfulness in Hebrew: פחד
frightfulness in Lithuanian: Baimė
frightfulness in Dutch: Angst
frightfulness in Japanese: 恐怖
frightfulness in Norwegian: Frykt
frightfulness in Polish: Strach
frightfulness in Portuguese: Medo
frightfulness in Romanian: Frică
frightfulness in Quechua: Manchakuy
frightfulness in Russian: Страх
frightfulness in Sicilian: Scantu
frightfulness in Simple English: Fear
frightfulness in Slovak: Strach
frightfulness in Serbian: Страх
frightfulness in Finnish: Pelko
frightfulness in Swedish: Rädsla
frightfulness in Ukrainian: Страх
frightfulness in Yiddish: שרעק
frightfulness in Samogitian: Baimės
frightfulness in Chinese: 敬畏
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