Intreme: The twelve faces of fear

May 27, 2009

Hi there.
Like “Meteowrite”, “Intreme” is another experiment. It is the blog counterpart of a French-written zine I (re)animate from time to time.
Its name says it all: it is about “inside extremes”, things of the mind, you know …
I know many of my musings are cheap psychological tricks and nonsenses, but more than the result, the way to get there is what interests me 😉
I’m not trying to define a definitive Truth (there is no such thing), or to rally you to my thinking (it is in perpetual reconstruction, I regularly contradict myself). I’m just having fun with ideas, and inviting you to the party 😀

Anyway, here is a hand-made translation of one of the articles I wrote a long time ago.

The twelve faces of fear

How do you measure fear?

By the angle between your hair and your skin, the frequency of your shivers, or the number of goosebumps on your arm?
Instead of listing our fears physical impacts, let’s try to analyze them in terms of intensity, and sanity level on the subject.
After all, doesn’t fear apply first on our mind , which is the true target? The body then simply produces empathic reactions.

Let’s follow this graph: the horizontal axis leads us to fears of increasing intensity, the vertical one represents our thinking capabilities; the higher on the graph, the more we think.

  • Top-left: Unease and Fright.
    These are toned-down versions of fear,  they are quickly forgotten unless one is tired or lets his imagination race freely.
  • Bottom-left: Aversion, Repulsion and Disgust are also precisely defined fears, and reside in our atavistic area. One cannot really explain them, and doesn’t really want to try either. They too quickly fade.
  • Upper-middle: Dread is a more extensive fear, with a medium intensity. It has a wide range of psychic representations, but remains in the active consciousness area.
    To keep on existing, dread needs us to think, and feed it. One can dread something and imagine any possible way to erase it, or stay in mental control, but physically passive.
  • Upper-right: Horror.
    Everything is stronger in Horror. More intense, it freezes our mind and doesn’t let it work properly. The most horrible with Horror is that we still have just enough thinking energy to realize how strong and overwhelming it is. This extreme fear makes our mind overheat, but not to our advantage …
  • Bottom-middle: Phobia.
    Not as strong as Horror, but truly visceral, Phobia is a fear without conscience. A given situation or object obliterate every thinking mechanism, and generally produces an obstinate refusal or physical recoil.
  • Bottom-right: Panic is the pathway to the loss of control. Logic is thrown off board, you are a hunted animal, your survival instinct is in total disarray, there is just one possible solution: run.
  • A dotted line starts in the upper left quadrant, and dives down to the lower right one. It drives through fears with increasing incapacitating powers: Apprehension, Anguish, Scare, Terror. They work in pairs, in a symmetrical way.
    Apprehension and Scare are fears of anticipation, with either psychic or physical causes. As a forbidding sensation increases, they each turn into Anguish and Terror when the fear becomes reality, and paralyze us each one at a specific level.

    Terror is a special state. It’s strong, and pure.
    Are we even Human at this stage? Are we even alive? We don’t dare move, we almost can’t breathe, body and mind are immobilized in a shell where time, space, and most of all spirit are gone.
    Without hold, references or hiding, we are naked before something unthinkable, unspeakable.
    Maybe madness is the only way out …