Archive for December, 2011
If you ever get scared during a thunderstorm, please do remember you are not the only one. Every year, there are about 16 million lightning thunderstorms around the world. Lightning can be defined as an electrostatic discharge into the atmosphere, and it is usually accompanied by thunder. The two natural phenomena obviously occur during the thunderstorms, and in some cases, during dust storms or volcanic eruptions. The interesting part about lightning is that it can travel at speeds as high as 220,000 km/h (140,000 mph), and can approach temperatures as high as 30,000°C (54,000°F). At this temperature, silica can be fused into glass channels called fulgurites. Lightning makes possible the ionization of the air it passes through, which leads to the formation of nitric acid and nitric oxide, which are very good for the plants. Apparently, lightning can also appear inside the ash clouds formed during the volcanic eruptions. It can also be caused by aggressive fires started up within forests areas.
Another interesting fact is that one cannot tell for sure how the lightning is formed in the first place. According to scientific theories, lightning can be related to the accumulation of charged solar particles, to atmospheric disturbances such as atmospheric pressure, friction, wind, humidity, or to the impact of solar wind. They say a key element in the development of lightning is ice inside a cloud, which can result in the separation of positive and negative charges inside that particular cloud.
There is even a phobia based on thunder and lightning, and it is called astraphobia. Storms undoubtedly are impressive natural phenomena that can cause both humans and animals to experience very intense emotions. Whereas some adore watching thunderstorms, others don’t know where to hide. Some people like going out during such storms, thus taking dangerous risks, whereas others develop this phobia.
Some symptoms of astraphobia are quite similar to those belonging to other phobias, but other symptoms are typical of astraphobia only. The symptoms may include crying, sweating, shaking either during the thunderstorm, or just before it begins. People suffering from this phobia continuously seek for reassurance from other people, and the symptoms may get aggravated when the person is all alone in some place. In addition to that, people are likely to manifest their astraphobia by searching shelter beyond the normal limits. For instance, such a person may hide under the bed or under the covers. Also, some other strange manifestations would be looking for shelter in a closet, in the basement, in the bathroom. Closing the curtains in order to block any storm sounds may also be indicators of such phobia.
Another symptom which is quite common is that of being virtually obsessed with weather forecasts. So a person suffering from astraphobia is indeed likely to keep the TV on stations such as the Weather Channel especially during rainy seasons, or searching for any storm forecast online. In more severe cases, people may start and develop incapacity to go out without first checking the weather forecast, in order for them to track down any possible eventuality of thunder and lightning weather. In some rather extreme circumstances, astraphobia can ultimately lead to agoraphobia or the fear of leaving one’s home.
Astraphobia occurs extremely often in children, and because mostly all the kids are afraid of thunderstorms, it should not be immediately taken too seriously. Fears are an essential part of a child’s development, and therefore are not diagnosed as phobias unless they become persistent for more than six months. The best thing you can do is to try to calm down and soothe the children especially by remembering to keep calm and collected yourselves. Children are likely to pick up on adults’ manifestations and behavior, whether positive and negative. In this respect, an idea is to be prepared beforehand with some fun activities in case of rainy, stormy weather. But if the fear persists in a severe manner and if it exceeds the period of six months, one should consider looking for treatment for one’s child.
In the treatment of astraphobia, therapists most often use cognitive-behavioral techniques. Such treatments include soothing messages that should be repeated during thunderstorms in order to replace one’s negative thoughts. Visualization exercises are also employed for getting rid of such irrational fears
How does fear affect the body? The general perception is; heart palpitation, unexplained sweating, clenching of the fist and teeth, change in eye movements and face expressions and a numbed thought process. These effects are observed by all of us when we sense fear or a dangerous stimuli. Fear is one of the negative emotions and is described as the survival mechanism used by the body when it perceives threat. When the mind senses dangerous stimuli, the negative feeling of fear is provoked in the mind. The fear you experience when someone screams loudly in your ears or when exams approach is altogether different from the above symptoms! You would definitely experience negativity, that will show some effects on the body. Also, I would like to mention, there is a difference between fear and phobia, phobia is excessive and unrealistic fear of something. Let’s now discuss in detail the various effects of fear on the human body.
Consequences of Fear on the Human Body
We all fear something or the other. Even if you think you are fearless, a sudden provocation from a friend or sudden appearance of a ghost (a false ghost) in the midnight will scare the hell out of you. According to studies, fear of spiders, cockroaches, height, water, enclosed spaces, needles, tunnels, public speaking and fear of terrorism are some of the common fears among the general community. A look into the ‘little Albert experiment’ of John B. Watson, reveals that fear can be conditioned into a person’s mind through exposing him to the repeated events. It is also provoked when the person sees dangerous consequences of an event on others and knows that he has to go through a similar experience. Bad events of the past condition the mind of the person to fear a particular thing or event. For example, if a person had closely survived a fall from a tall building, and was hurt badly, he will fear height in the future. Some of us have innate fear of certain things. Did you know? Fear is also categorized, a severe case of fear being paranoia, which is classified as a psychological disorder and can also affect the behavior of the person. The symptoms of paranoia differ from person to person, the chief symptom being delusion.
Brain is the controlling structure of human existence. Amygdala, located in the temporal lobes of the brain, is the key brain element that controls the processing of negative emotions. Rapid changes are observed in this structure when the body is exposed to the stimuli it fears. There are also other brain structures that show response when exposed to fear. The fear response shown by the body is controlled by another structure called autonomic nervous system. These changes in the amygdala and other brain structures are reciprocated by the body through the common signs of fear; goose bumps, increased heartbeat rate, sweating, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, difficulty in digestion, increase in the frequency of urination, are the visible effects of fear on the body. Constant fear and living under stress also affects the mind negatively giving invitation to a whole lot of diseases.
So, mentioned above were the details of how fear affects the human body. Fear is one of the negative emotions that is in the mind and is easy to beat. Fear is natural to humans, but let it not affect your mind, as it is nothing but the body’s natural response to stimuli. It can be quite difficult to cope with extreme cases of fear, those which are classified as phobias. But even overcoming phobias is not an impossible thing. Conditioning the mind, meditation and counseling are some of the best ways to overcome fear and phobia of any kind. About, how fear affects our body, it only affects us negatively with some visible effects which were discussed earlier in the article.