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Psychology | scary or exciting?


The people on this fairground ride are probably excited, but the people watching are feeling a little scared just watching it! There is a fine line between fear and excitement. When we feel in control or a little out of control we feel excited, but when we feel  completely out of control and in danger; then we feel fear.

We respond fairly primitively to danger. We either feel in control and try to fight the threat, or deal with it in some way by taking evasive action. We run away! This is the fight or flight response talked about by psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. Our response to things that we perceive as threatening, isn’t always that simple though.

We can feel continuously threatened. It might not be our life that is at risk or we might not fear physical injury; but we fear other things. Our place in the community or in society or even in the family might be at risk. We can’t fight and we can’t run,  this is when we feel stress. This can make us feel quite ill, to just endure the threat.

Our perceptions of threats are coloured by our past experiences. A traumatic incident can bring on PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and make us feel anxious about everything. Being involved in a car crash might want us to avoid travelling or even avoid going out at all. An incident in a plane might make us anxious about flying. There could be lots of reasons for feeling anxious about hospitals or doctors.

If we experience a lot of bad thing in our lives, we can go through life expecting bad things to happen and then we are constantly on the alert for negative things. We look for the negative and even a happy looking clown can seem menacing. We do gain experience of coping with bad experiences though. Someone who has few bad experiences, can react very badly to a negative experience and feel devastated by it. If you have a long list of bad experiences and something embarrassing happens, you tend to just add it to the long list.

It can impact our lives and make us ‘live on our nerves’ if we are constantly on the look out for threats. We only see the threats and don’t see the good stuff, the opportunities for happiness that life presents. Constant anxiety about things and the constant perception of threats makes us vulnerable too and we might turn to extreme behaviour, drugs or alcohol to cope with life.

How does life make you feel? Scared or excited? Please use the comments box to share your thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter. There is a box in the sidebar to subscribe and receive regular emails every time I publish a new post.

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