Problems With Scare

Self-Therapy For People Who ENJOY Learning About Themselves


Natural scare only occurs when we are face to face with a real threat to our existence (a high speed auto coming toward us, threats with a weapon, etc.).

Almost No Problems At All: Natural fear causes almost no psychological problems at all at the moment of the threat. And it disappears almost immediately after the threat.

Almost everyone automatically does what is in their own best interest at such times. Our innate sense of survival serves us very well. Once the frightening event is over, however, there may be "flashbacks."

Flashbacks: When a fearful situation is so horrible that we think we will not survive the pain, we may "split" or temporarily "leave our bodies" mentally. We do this as a natural, automatic attempt to survive.

If the situation was so awful that we had to split, we may experience "flashbacks" of the event later. It's as if our psyche gives us a chance to reprocess the event later, when we are stronger.

[Flashbacks are discussed in some detail in the Childhood Sexual Abuse topics.]


The distinction between natural and unnatural scare relates to: Whether the threat is real or imagined, whether the event is current or future.

Even though natural scare is seldom a problem, everyone has problems with unnatural scare.


Each of these common fears is imagined:

  • Fear of public speaking.
  • Fear of "crime" (in general).
  • Fear of intimacy.
  • Fear of commitment.
  • Fear of our own inadequacies.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of disappointing someone.
  • Fear of our own future actions.
  • Fear of flying.
  • Fear of strangers.
  • Fear of embarrassment.
  • Fear of illness.

(A complete list could fill a telephone book.)



The pain of unnatural fear is in your body. The solution must come from your mind.

Certain kinds of thinking can help but the overall solution comes from believing you are smart now,
and trusting that you will still be smart in the future!


When you are afraid, ask yourself: "What is the worst possible thing that could happen in this situation?"

Then decide what you would actually DO if the worst possible happened.

Example #1:
Someone who is afraid of public speaking may believe they could "die from embarrassment."

They may feel better when they realize that nobody ever does and they will definitely live even if they are embarrassed.

Example #2:
Someone who is afraid to hear the results of an upcoming medical exam may be afraid they'll hear that they will die soon.

Since this is possible (although unlikely), the person would need to make clear decisions about what they would actually do if that happened. (Where they'd get support, what they'd do with the time remaining in their lives, etc.)


It can be extremely helpful to put a real number to the odds of something fearful happening.

For instance: The odds of dying in a plane crash are millions to one.

We owe it to ourselves to base our decisions on the real odds, good or bad.


If this kind of healthy thinking about scare doesn't help, you probably doubt your own ability to think clearly.

Your task then is to learn to trust your own best thinking.

(Since you are reading and understanding these topics, you are smart! Period!)

"What if I'm not thinking so clearly later?"

If you can think clearly now you will be able to think clearly in the future! (Same you. Same brain.)


We all confuse our feelings sometimes. If you thought you had a problem with scare
but these words don't fit, your problem may be related to one of the other feelings.

Enjoy Your Changes!

Everything here is designed to help you do just that!


next: Quitting Addictions

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 16). Problems With Scare, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Last Updated: March 30, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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