Fear is an unpleasant emotion brought about by the idea of coming danger, either real or imagined. Fear often arises out of proportion to the actual threat involved - often, the fear of something is worse than the actual thing. Fear is comparatively easy to cause, and can be difficult to get rid of once it's there.
Like most emotions, fear is particularly intensive in children, and tends to become easier to get under control as people grow older.
Fear and punishment
There are several ways in which fear relates to punishment.
First, there is fear of punishment as such. This fear of punishment is generally seen as desirable because it keeps people from wrongdoing in the first place. It is nurtured by reminding people of the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. It is also nurtured by the witnessed or reported punishment of others. Though it is often desirable to make an effort to make sure it is the punishment that is feared not the punisher.
Second, there is the delinquent's fearful anticipation of coming-up punishment - this fear may begin as early as the offense is committed, and will intensify when he or she is caught and the punishment sentence is spoken. This fear will make the anticipation period punishing by itself, a factor that is employed by letting the delinquent wait for some time before their punishment, for example locked up for one or two hours or in corner time for five, 10 or 20 minutes, or by making the preparation for the punishment a lengthy ritual.
Third, some punishment types work by means of fear. A typical case is locking a child up in a dark room for punishment. Causing fear is also a key element of many methods of psychological punishment. When it is taken to an extreme, it is called white torture.
Fear and paraphilia
According to one theory, many types of paraphilia may be caused by childhood fears. Whereas in classical psychology, often an early childhood traumatic experience is believed to be the trigger of developing a paraphilia (with or without a genetic predisposition), this more recent theory says that a trauma is not even required: a fear is enough. According to the theory, the feared object or thing is eroticized as a method employed by the brains to cope with the fear. This eroticization can turn the fear into a "strange fear-cum-fascination" (the sexual aspect is usually unaware at that age), which becomes "hard-wired".
This theory could explain cases of, for example, spanking fetishism where the person was never spanked as a child (but has, as a child, heard of spanking as a punishment, which has caused a fear of this happening to themself some day, which has led to the eroticization of this fantasy).
Actual childhood spankings, if they are not traumatic, may even have an opposite effect: the fear of the unknown can be greater than the fear of the well-known. This may explain why spanking fetishism seems to flourish in cultures that have largely replaced corporal punishment by psychological punishment (Europe, North America, East Asia, Australia since the 20th century), but is hardly known in cultures where corporal punishment of children is still widely practised (e.g. South America, Africa, Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia).
- funk (BE)
- to be scared
- to be frightened
- to be terrified
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