Triggers for fear come in all shapes and sizes, from the rational to the irrational. Some common examples include fears about public speaking, flying, snakes, heights, clowns, the dark; the list can go on and on. While our individual fears may differ, we all know it when we feel it: an increase in heart rate and breathing, maybe our palms start to get a little sweaty. Whatever the trigger, we tend to want to get away from whatever is making us react this way.1
This biological flight-or-fight response is completely natural. Indeed, fear is an intrinsic and important human emotion that keeps us safe and alert when we confront perceived danger.
Chronic fear or phobias, defined as long-lasting fears and anxieties that occur even without the presence of potentially harmful stimuli can, however, start to have dangerous long-lasting effects on our physical and emotional health. This often occurs when we become afraid of feeling fear—in other words, when we become overly fearful of experiencing a fear-based response and go out of our way to avoid those triggers or situations.2 In these cases, when fear becomes an impediment, as opposed to a natural part of living, we need to actively work to overcome our fears and fear-based responses.
Physiology and function
Psychologists have noted that our bodies have two distinct stages of response to fear: a biochemical and an emotional response.3
First, we see, hear, or sense something that makes us anticipate harm—triggering the body’s initial biochemical response.4 The part of the brain that regulates the fear response, the amygdala, almost instantly begins triggering a variety of chemical reactions and responses. Essentially, in times of perceived danger, the amygdala overrides the other conscious parts of the brain to divert all of the body’s attention to addressing or avoiding what is causing fear.
According to neuropsychiatrist Dr. Katherine Brownlowe, “The release of neurochemicals and hormones causes an increase in heart rate and breathing, shunts blood away from the intestines and sends more to the muscles, for running or fighting.”5 This is called the body’s flight-or-fight response. Scientists have noted that this biochemical response is almost universal, which is one of the many reasons that we all have such a shared, visceral response to our individual fear triggers.
However, in the next phase, the emotional response, humans have highly differential and distinct reactions.6 For some people, such as adrenaline junkies, the emotional response to the physical sensations is jubilation or exultation.7 While many other humans have adapted emotionally to quickly return to a state of calm after the biochemical fear response, others have a much more negative response to fear and are unable to move past the initial chemical responses—which in turn can result in anxiety, depression, restlessness, etc. In both extreme cases (anxiety and thrill-seekers), there can be potentially dangerous consequences that should be considered and addressed.
Fear is energetically connected with the large intestine, adrenal glands, urinary bladder, kidney, and the kidney meridian. This means that the support of these vectors should also be considered when looking at fear, and vice-versa.
Fear is also connected to the front 4 top and bottom teeth as well as to various vertebrae, including C1, C3, and L3.
Additionally, other emotions linked to fear include distrust, anxiety, and terror.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine understanding of fear is that it is a normal function and important to human adaptation and survival. However, fear can become a problem whenever it is chronic, especially if the cause of chronic fear is unknown or something that cannot be directly addressed. When this kind of fear goes unchecked and remains persistent, it can result in disharmony. The organs most at risk include the heart and kidney. However, the heart is really only in danger with sudden, unexpected fear—what we might consider to be fright. But the persistent presence of fear is most likely to cause issues in the kidney, with extreme cases inhibiting the ability for the kidney to hold qi.8
Fighting negative fear-based emotions
While fear plays an important role in our day-to-day living and survival, excessive or chronic fear can start to take a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health.
There are a variety of different ways to fight back against the negative effects of excessive fear. As many psychologists have noted, the vast majority of our fears are relatively illogical, which is why so many experts recommend that we should regularly face our fears. Indeed, while it’s fine if we remain slightly nervous about certain things, such as public speaking, meeting new people, and so on, it’s nevertheless important that we make sure these fears don’t impede our ability to interact in the world. By facing our fears, more often than not, we will get a better sense of the illogical nature of our fears and our self-confidence and coping mechanisms will grow.9
Need a little help remaining calm when feeling overwhelmed by your fears? Various breathing exercises and techniques have been proven to slow down the physiological effects of fear and calm the mind10. This can be as simple as focusing on your breath for three to five minutes, slowly breathing through your nose deep down into your belly and slowly exhaling through your mouth. However, a variety of more advanced techniques, including alternate nostril breathing, can be easily learned as well.11
Additionally, meditation and yoga provide a variety of mindfulness exercises that prove beneficial for counteracting the effects of chronic fear. Many studies have shown that any type of regular exercise, from tough workouts at the gym to a simple walk around the neighborhood, help to reduce stress and other fear-based responses.12
The Fear stressor Virtual Item
In the new Balance 5.0+ Biosurvey, Fear is included as one of the key biomarkers under the category of Mental and Emotional Stress. Paying attention to this Virtual Item can help you make better decisions when it comes to your physical and emotional wellness.
Along with other biomarkers, Fear is scanned as a stressor Virtual Item to determine if it’s in range or out of range. A balancer scan is then done to determine which Virtual Items bring the Fear Virtual Item (if it is out of range) and other out-of-range stressor Virtual Items back into range.
In the Select and Elite, the Fear Virtual Item can be found in the ZYTO Library under the category Emotions. Other items related to fear can also be scanned, including more specific fears. Additionally, the EVOX provides an opportunity to work with fear through the Zone 8: Fearful and Overwhelmed vs. Accountability zone of the PI Chart.
Fear balancer Virtual Items
The balancers scanned to bring fear and other out-of-range stressors back into range may include supplement, herb, essential oil, service, food, or affirmation statement Virtual Items, all of which can be found in the ZYTO Library.
Additionally, the EVOX is a powerful tool that uses voice-mapping technology to assess and address a client’s personal perceptions. By measuring the voice energy present when a client talks about, for example, a fear that is becoming overwhelming in their life, the EVOX creates a powerful opportunity to alter the static perception that is causing their fear-based emotions and responses.
About Dr. Vaughn Cook
Dr. Vaughn R Cook is the Founder & CEO of ZYTO. An Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD) and licensed acupuncturist, he has worked in the complementary and alternative medical field for more than 30 years, specializing in applications that integrate Western and Eastern medicine.
1. Mohney, Gillian. “The Science of Fear: What Happens to Your Body After a Good Scare.” ABC News. Abcnews.go.com.
2. “Neuroscience and Psychiatry Module 2: Fear/Safety, Anxiety, and Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health. Nimh.nih.gov.
3. Steimer, Thierry. “The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 4, no. 3 (2002): 231-249.
4. Dickerson, Kelly. “Here’s What Happens In Our Brains When We Get Scared.” Business Insider. Businessinsider.com.
5. Weisberger, Mindy. “Scary Science: How Your Body Responds to Fear.” Live Science. Livescience.com.
6. Fritscher, Laura. “The Psychology of Fear.” verywell. Verywell.com.
7. Scott, Elizabeth. “What Is An Adrenaline Junkie? What Can You Do If You Are One?” verywell. Verywell.com.
8. “What Are the Seven Emotions?” Shen Nong. Shen-nong.com.
9. “How to Face Your Fears.” wikiHow. Wikihow.com.
10. “Ten ways to fight your fears.” NHS Choices. Nhs.uk.
11. “Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique.” The Art of Living. Artofliving.org.
12. “Can You Beat Anxiety by Exercising?” CalmClinic. Calmclinic.com.