Components of the emotion of fear

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In line with our discussion of the components of emotion throughout the book, we see fear as comprising: an event, an interpretation, an appraisal, physiological arousal, conscious awareness, and, in the paradigm case, overt behaviour (see Chapter 2). However, before considering some of these components in detail, it is important to review briefly other deconstructions of the fear response; most notably the work of Peter Lang, which we have considered more fully in Chapter 3.

Lang (e.g., 1977, 1979, 1984, 1985) argues that the data of anxiety—as distinct from what he describes as the "feeling state, i.e., a direct experience or internal apprehension, requiring no further definition" (1985; p. 131)—are: (i) verbal reports of distress; (ii) fear-related behavioural acts such as avoidance or hypervigilance; and (iii) patterns of visceral and somatic activation. Lang's analysis of fear has been highly influential in research on anxiety and the anxiety disorders (see, for instance, the work of Foa in the section on PTSD below) and has received considerable empirical and theoretical support. For example, one of the empirical foundation stones of Lang's tripartite analysis is evidence showing the desynchrony of the three components (e.g., Rachman & Hodgson, 1974). That is, the finding that therapeutic intervention can modulate the three subsystems at different rates so that, for example, an individual with an animal phobia might show a reduction in behavioural aspects of fear such as avoidance but with no reduction in reported fear or symptoms of physiological arousal (Lang, 1964, 1968).

Lang's deconstruction of the emotion of fear has much in common with the philosophical analysis of emotions derived in Chapter 2. The principal difference is that Lang seems most concerned with the available data of fear—that which the clinician or researcher is able to work with in understanding the phenomenon. In contrast, the analysis outlined in Chapter 2, and employed throughout the rest of this book, is principally concerned with what the components of a given emotion might be, irrespective of their accessibility to scientific investigation. Despite this, both Lang's analysis and the one used here broadly recognise phenomenological, behavioural, cognitive ("verbal"), and physiological components of the fear response and in this section we consider these factors in more detail.

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Anxiety and Depression 101

Anxiety and Depression 101

Everything you ever wanted to know about. We have been discussing depression and anxiety and how different information that is out on the market only seems to target one particular cure for these two common conditions that seem to walk hand in hand.

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