Fear





Probably in no instinct more than in that of fear can we find the

reflections of all the past ages of life in the world with its manifold

changes, its dangers, its tragedies, its sufferings, and its deaths.



FEAR HEREDITY.--The fears of childhood are remembered at every step,

and so are the fears through which the race has passed. Says

Chamberlain: Every ugly thing told to the child, every shock, every

fright given him, will remain like splinters in the flesh, to torture

him all his life long. The bravest old soldier, the most daring young

reprobate, is incapable of forgetting them all--the masks, the bogies,

ogres, hobgoblins, witches, and wizards, the things that bite and

scratch, that nip and tear, that pinch and crunch, the thousand and one

imaginary monsters of the mother, the nurse, or the servant, have had

their effect; and hundreds of generations have worked to denaturalize

the brains of children. Perhaps no animal, not even those most

susceptible to fright, has behind it the fear heredity of the child.



President Hall calls attention to the fact that night is now the safest

time of the twenty-four hours; serpents are no longer our most deadly

enemies; strangers are not to be feared; neither are big eyes or teeth;

there is no adequate reason why the wind, or thunder, or lightning

should make children frantic as they do. But the past of man forever

seems to linger in his present; and the child, in being afraid of these

things, is only summing up the fear experiences of the race and

suffering all too many of them in his short childhood.



FEAR OF THE DARK.--Most children are afraid in the dark. Who does not

remember the terror of a dark room through which he had to pass, or,

worse still, in which he had to go to bed alone, and there lie in cold

perspiration induced by a mortal agony of fright! The unused doors which

would not lock, and through which he expected to see the goblin come

forth to get him! The dark shadows back under the bed where he was

afraid to look for the hidden monster which he was sure was hiding there

and yet dare not face! The lonely lane through which the cows were to be

driven late at night, while every fence corner bristled with shapeless

monsters lying in wait for boys!



And that hated dark closet where he was shut up until he could learn to

be good! And the useless trapdoor in the ceiling. How often have we

lain in the dim light at night and seen the lid lift just a peep for

ogre eyes to peer out, and, when the terror was growing beyond

endurance, close down, only to lift once and again, until from sheer

weariness and exhaustion we fell into a troubled sleep and dreamed of

the hideous monster which inhabited the unused garret! Tell me that the

old trapdoor never bent its hinges in response to either man or monster

for twenty years? I know it is true, and yet I am not convinced. My

childish fears have left a stronger impression than proof of mere facts

can ever overrule.



FEAR OF BEING LEFT ALONE.--And the fear of being left alone. How big and

dreadful the house seemed with the folks all gone! How we suddenly made

close friends with the dog or the cat, even, in order that this bit of

life might be near us! Or, failing in this, we have gone out to the barn

among the chickens and the pigs and the cows, and deserted the empty

house with its torture of loneliness. What was there so terrible in

being alone? I do not know. I know only that to many children it is a

torture more exquisite than the adult organism is fitted to experience.



But why multiply the recollections? They bring a tremor to the strongest

of us today. Who of us would choose to live through those childish fears

again? Dream fears, fears of animals, fears of furry things, fears of

ghosts and of death, dread of fatal diseases, fears of fire and of

water, of strange persons, of storms, fears of things unknown and even

unimagined, but all the more fearful! Would you all like to relive your

childhood for its pleasures if you had to take along with them its

sufferings? Would the race choose to live its evolution over again? I do

not know. But, for my own part, I should very much hesitate to turn the

hands of time backward in either case. Would that the adults at life's

noonday, in remembering the childish fears of life's morning, might feel

a sympathy for the children of today, who are not yet escaped from the

bonds of the fear instinct. Would that all might seek to quiet every

foolish childish fear, instead of laughing at it or enhancing it!





Factors Determining The Efficiency Of The Nervous System Forms Of Sensory Stimuli facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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