Different Types of Fear
Fear comes in many shapes and sizes.
Sometimes fear expresses itself in nervousness.
Sometimes in doubt.
Sometimes in constant worrying.
Sometimes something will give you a ‘bad feeling or generate panic and in some cases you can be literally scared to death.
According to literature there are 5 to 7 different types of fear.
Let’s look closer at these.
Concrete fear: also known as the ‘specific phobia’ manifests itself in being afraid of a specific subject, animal or situation. It could be absolutely anything; a fear of elevators or a fear of embarking on a certain project for example. The underlying belief is that the activity or situation is dangerous: the plane could crash, the dog could bite. The elevator could get stuck. During a confrontation with something that scares you, you will get stressed or you feel panic rising. You may prefer to run away from the situation as quickly as possible, or get the thing, situation or animal you find scary away from you.
Another is General Fear: In its most serious form it is known as generalized fear disorder, but the mild variant is more common, and most people will know it as ‘worrying’. If you worry a lot about things which aren’t all that threatening, but which you can’t seem to let go of. Then you are dealing with a common fear-feeling. Your underlying belief is that something in your present situation will go wrong. In your thoughts you will contemplate all the things that could go wrong. The fears regularly surface during your everyday life. Perhaps the equipment will let you down in your upcoming presentation.
People with a common fear syndrome usually suffer from a lack of sleep, because they worry a lot in the evening and at night. Other symptoms are: muscle tension, fatigue, bad appetite and binge eating which are also related to long term stress, stomach cramps and gut problems.
Another is Social Fear: if you suffer from a so-called ‘social phobia’, this is a fear of being judged critically or rejected by others in social situations. This creates extreme self-awareness.
There is an irrational fear that the eyes and ears of others will notice every slip of the tongue, every spot on your shirt. The underlying fear is that labels will be applied such as weird, stupid, bad, ugly or unintelligent. It should come as no surprise that people with social fears can avoid parties, reunions or network events; and rather not speak in front of audiences. The symptoms related to this fear are: extreme tension or ‘freezing’ during get-togethers, obsessive worrying regarding meetings with others. Often a self defeating strategy to prevent all that stress is to withdraw or isolate oneself.
There is the Fear of getting sick: commonly known as Hypochondria.
One is constantly imagining having very serious medical conditions, even though the doctor concludes that there is nothing to worry about. Hypochondriacs can be convinced that they have brain cancer when having a nagging headache or simple cough could be double pneumonia. The underlying belief of people suffering from hypochondria is that they have a serious condition, and might die from it as result.
Another is Compulsive disorder: When suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD; compulsive thoughts or images are constantly recurring. So even when a way is found to defuse those fears; that process can cause new fears to spring up. It could be a fear of getting an infection from things in your environment and you succeed in defusing those scary thoughts by doing certain things like rituals or compulsive acts like washing your hands over and over, or checking if you switched off the gas multiple times before leaving the house. If you don’t do them, you will be worried constantly or you will start to panic.
Then there is Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS): if you suffer from PTSS, your fear has been caused by a previous threatening or damaging experience. People who walk into a warzone could suffer from PTSS for example, but it also happens to people who were physically attacked, or people who were involved in a serious accident. Often, they relive the traumatic experience in nightmares or during flashbacks. People suffering from PTSS can have violent shock reactions, excessive alertness and high irritability.
There are Panic Attacks: during a panic attack the body reacts as if serious danger is imminent. Within a few minutes there is an unpleasant physical reaction. There can be hyperventilation, causing a cascade of other reactions: dizziness, anxiety even fainting. The effects can even cause a heart attack. The need to get out of the situation as soon as possible is paramount. Such a panic attack can stem from other types of fear. For example: Fear of Failure in the workplace and a fear of public speaking.
When your manager asks you to make a presentation, you agree to do it even though you are scared. This is because of internal pressure generated by the need for job security and income. This internal dilemma can climax in getting an acute panic attack when the presentation starts.
We already mentioned that talking about fear, in many company cultures is still taboo. We also know that everyone experiences fear in their own way. Because it is not fully accepted as a normal reaction, most of us are not fond to speak about our fears; especially not at work. This is understandable. However, to be the truest and most courageous self and to create an inclusive and stimulating work environment for others. Shouldn't we begin talking about it?
Roanne, co-founder of Hatch kicks off with her fear of failure. Her fear of failure has popped up many times during her work life. For example, after writing her first book, she couldn’t get it published. One publisher told her she sucked at writing, and this opinion got into her head, and regularly came back and affected her later writing projects. For her, another fear of failure was not being good enough as an academic. This has also often returned during her work. However by being aware and working with it; this fear has lessened and she is now able to control it.
Perhaps there are fears here you recognise, or have dealt with in the past, or perhaps still dealing with in your work life.