Fear - n.
a. A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or
imminence of danger.
b. A state or condition marked by this feeling
2. A feeling of disquiet or apprehension
3. Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.
4. A reason for dread or apprehension
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that
the only thing we have to fear is... fear itself —
nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat
into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor
has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to
victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these
critical days... "
Franklin D. Roosevelt's Inaugural Speech--March 4, 1933
Paranoia - n.
1. A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason.
2. Extreme, irrational distrust of others.
WILD WORLD OF FEAR
Throughout history mankind has been both fearful and fearsome. Fear is an emotion that has helped people to assess certain situations and prioritize our ever-evolving needs and our requirements for survival. The human "fight or flight" instinct is a classic example of how one's fears can influence behavior. In such cases, a conscious choice may well be overridden by something more akin to a reflex. Our fear of the elements--dangerous weather, temperature-extremes--have led mankind out of the caves and coves of the world, and up to the sturdy steps of our modern houses and dwellings.
But the safety of our shelters--to literally weather the storm, and assuage our fear of the elements--is but one form of fear with which we must concern ourselves. And it is prudent to do so. Only a foolish person would ignore a known fear. It is not uncommon for some to fear the unknown, on occasion. The very ambiguity of what may be in store is enough to place many people on alert. Such an awareness is healthy--it reinforces the safety of a situation. Not everyone has the instinct to "keep an eye peeled", or to "expect the unexpected". Those possessing such self-preserving qualities most likely have less to fear about life-in-general.
But more often than not, some people, for whatever reason--have too high a level of fear--be it over real or imagined things. They may fear something that appears quite innocuous to most folks. They may fear something totally imagined. The fear, however, is far from imagined. Such an individual has undergone what amounts to a "fear-upgrade". The fear has become a genuine phobia. People who have phobias about a variety of things can find things getting out-of-hand, and develop a "fear of fear itself" --known in certain circles as "FDR's warning". Mix in a bit of a persecution-complex, you'll get your textbook example of good old Paranoia.
Sometimes, we may look around and discover we are engulfed by large numbers of such people--with unusual fears and phobias. When fear of this nature--fears upon fears upon still other fears--is upon the land, you will be facing a supremely stressful situation, I fear. What you'll have--is the makings of one hell of a