Tags: #thought


Fear, a word we feel on some occasions, a word that keep many psychologist being busy working at (and keep getting money from, for sure). Despite their complicated neurological methods to understand this feeling, is it possible if we understand it using simple way, like math? Is it right that fear is a mathematical substance? If it is, then is it possible if we divide this "fear" into pieces as many as we want, so we could distribute the pain?

Fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it, also known as the fight-or-flight response (Wikipedia). Yeah, sounds like a bunch of cryptic words, right? We all have this "fear" feeling keep happening day by day, and we thing that it's normal. Hmm, since being "normal" is kinda boring for me, i tried to make an alternative approach of this feeling. As I mentioned before, I prefer to do some simple math calculations to unveil how it works. Let start it using a simple example - the dark street case (I actually want to use the dark night case, but it'll turn you into an ambiguation if you refer it to a character with awkward black costume :D).

T H E   D A R K S T R E E T   C A S E

So here is the case. You're 14 year old boy, walking down the street alone. You'll have to go through a dark and silent pathway on the way you're going home. A large tree is on your right. A wolf's howl is breaking the night. (OK, it's too much, just imagine a dark and creepy pathway :P). Let me introduce you (Figure A) the FEAR level you're having when you are in this situation.

Fig. A: Situation 1

Pain on Situation 1: Headaches, chronic pain and muscle tension, stomach problems coming up like nausea and diarrhea, exhaustion, and restlessness (I'm a bit exaggerating the pain here :P). We see that you received 100% of the fear, which means that you're totally being frightened by the dark street.

Now, other variables being equal, you're accompanied by your friend, another 14 year old boy. Both of you walk down the street together. Here is the fear level you and your friend will have, i name it Situation 2 (Figure B).

Fig. B: Situation 2

As we can see on Figure B, Situation 2 shows that the FEAR level declines to 50% (you can see that those 2 young boys are not sweating anymore :P). This phenomenon indicates that FEAR is a mathematical substance, it could be divided into two similar parts. Now we'll see how it would be if we add one more boy into the situation.

Fig. C: Situation 3

As we can see that, the dark street is not frightening anymore for those three boys. The FEAR level has fallen to 33%. As a conclusion, we see that the FEAR level is a mathematical substance. The more people we put into the situation, the more the level decline. (1 person-> 100%, 2 person -> 50%, 3 person-33%, 4 person->25%, and so on).

Since it seems that the equation is practically simple, thus we need to add one more variable into it (The case is getting more serious!). Let's have experiments with variable AGE. Would the result be the same if the friend is not having the same age ?

Fig. D: Situation 4

Now we can see that we've complicate the formula if the variable AGE is put into account. The FEAR level the young boy has is no longer as much as that from his partner's (the baby). The baby doesn't know anything about why being afraid of the dark street, so the baby's not afraid (FEAR level 10%). On the other hand, the young boy feels that his partner (the baby) is someone unreliable to share the FEAR with, thus his level rises to 90%. The boy's perception (about the baby's unreliability) has changed the equation. The boy is the victim of the situation. (the one who gets more FEAR level).

The next situation is a bit different. We would like to try another different person to accompany the young boy.

Fig. E: Situation 5

An old man, with presumption that he has walked through the dark street many times before, doesn't really care whoever his partner is. This old man will stay calm and have small FEAR level (he might still have a small fraction of FEAR if he has ever heard a bad news from his friend having bad experience going through that dark street despite his cleansheet experience). On the other hand, the young boy feels very secured since he is with an old experienced man. In this case, there are two perceptions getting involved into account (the boy's and the old man's). The old man's FEAR level would not change whoever his partner is, while the boy's FEAR level is declining since he is accompanied by the old man.

So, the equation is proved to be vulnerable if many variables is put into account. Well then, are we wasting time here?

So What?

I couldn't say that FEAR is absolutely not a mathematical substance, which we could divide or subtract (we already proved it in THE DARK STREET case). But I could say that, we could arrange our self to treat FEAR as a mathematical substance. We could modify it to avoid the pain the FEAR feeling brings. Thus, when you're having a situation, you could either :

a. Share your fear with your other (equal) friend. If you could find the right people to share with (friends at the same age), then the fear level (hopefully) will fall into 33% (if you find another 2 equal friends). We could find the result on Figure C (Situation 3). The FEAR could possibly fall by some more amount if you share more with another people at the same age.

b. Meet another experienced people. You will certainly be sure that the problem is not impossible to solve when you hear another people's success story. As you can see on Figure E (Situation 5), your FEAR would fall to 25% if you share it with another people whom you really believe in.



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