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Fear happens to all of us. It is, perhaps, nature's way of stopping us from doing things that may hurt us, such as leaning out from a high cliff or trying to fight someone bigger than us.

Fear can range from a little scare to paralyzing terror. At best, we feel some muscular tension. At worst, our muscles either go completely rigid or totally flaccid. Either way, we collapse - possibly losing the content of our bowels on the way. Fainting from fear is not uncommon, perhaps as the brain switches off rather than countenance further terror.

A little fear can also be quite exciting, for example when we are riding a roller-coaster, where we cognitively know we are safe whilst deliberately triggering automatic fear reactions in order to experience the thrill of the adrenalin rush as we hurtle around the track.

Fear also has a duration element which has different effects. A short, sharp shock grabs our attention and makes us jump, whilst low-level anxiety can wear us down over a long period.

We can also suffer from extreme fears in irrational phobias such as the fear of spiders, open spaces, food and so on.

Fear is the opposite of desire, in that desire attracts whilst fear repels.

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