Fear is not a primal part of our brain. Panic is. Panic is the fight or flight response to dangerous stimuli, and it is perfectly natural.
Panic is also part of our collective unconcious. I witnessed this a few weeks ago.
I was in a first aid course and during the explanation of the reactive processes of a choking person, it was described that when suffocating we all try to hide. Or remove ourselves from the situation. (A little aside here: I often try to remove all thoughts about modern technology and modern culture when I think about the actions people do today. Toddlers are great for this.)
Then I thought about how my two-year-old hides whenever he goes to the bathroom. I tried to think if there was something internally that connected these two actions, and a thought struck me:
These two seemingly different actions exhibit actions that are relatable. Disease. Coughing is a sign of disease, and feces carry disease. When we act diseased we isolate ourselves from the group as a way of protecting the group.
To give another example is when a cat hides to die or give birth. In both cases it is isolating itself from illness, either in contraction or dissemination. When choking or defecating part of our flight-or-fight gets activated and we hide. Panic is a natural protector in this situation.
When our panic is prolonged or held artificially we develop fear. When panic is induced in similar situations it evolves into fear, since the cause of the panic does not appear yet the fight-or-flight is engaged.
This is the curse of having memory and sentient thought. We can create circumstances that trigger these responses when none are actually present. Such as watching scary movies.
The desire to watch scary movies comes with it's own social implications as well. Why do we desire to be scared? Why do we force ourselves to watch the news where horrible things happen?
I think it's because we learn from it. Since our responses allowed us to live, and can be triggered as a warning device (that manifests itself in negative ways such as phobias or innaporpriate responses to environmental stimuli). We watch what others do in bad situations to leatn what not to do.
We've all watched the monster movie and yelled at the screen for the defenceless girl to “stay away from the door! The killer is there! I wouldn't go through there!”
When on the news we watch to see how others survive the disaster, creating elaborate scenarios where we do things different in order to survive.
Doing this creates fear. While learning from experiences is a great way to preserve ourselves and our species, when it is artificially induced it creates the synthetic emotion of fear.
Am I making sense or talking out of my ass?