Apocalyptic Fears: Research Question

I began my research to identify one basic question: what is fear? I started with the idea of apocalyptic fears and how they are rationed through a sense of fact. This simply means that fears are evolved from factual data. For instance, one is not afraid of an actual “Zombie Apocalypse,” but what they are afraid of is a viral outbreak or a deadly disease that could spread across the globe like a fire. Fear can be a broad area to focus on because so many fears are associated with many different things for different individuals. However, it is important to know what fear is or is not. Fear is a cognitive perception of one thing or another. In an anatomy class, you can learn about “the flight or fight response” which is induced by fear and danger to either run away or fight. The initial response is in the amygdala, located in the brain, that signals to the adrenal medulla, which is located just above the kidneys, responsible for hormonal secretion, including adrenaline. Furthermore, these organs result the natural response of fear in a given situation. Although, as mentioned previously, it is a perception issue, so a fear to one person may not be a fear to another.

It is also important to figure out what application fear has. For example, depending on how one is raised can determine how one perceives the application of fear what is important to be afraid of or restrain from. Religion is one building block of how this can be viewed. According to Richard Eckersley in his essay about apocalyptic fears, he illustrates that “Fundamentalism refers to the retreat to the certainty of dogmatic beliefs, whether secular or religious. In an extreme form, this is ‘end time’ thinking.”[1] Here, Eckersley shows a view from a Christian standpoint that this belief is to illustrate the fear of the Rapture taking place. So, depending on family belief systems, it can influence how one perceives the apocalypse to take place.

Fear is always a response to a situation or in anticipation of that situation. Fear has many responses including freezing, chills, sweating, and screaming. If you think about the last time you were seriously scared, what happened? Your body could have jumped in response to the situation, you began to be terrified of the situation, or maybe you could not physically move because you were so scared. These are only a few of the responses. Fear is closely associated with anxiety too. You can physically feel the response of anxiety: heart rate increase, overwhelming feelings, depression of what might happen. So, with fear being so closely associated with anxiety, it can effect how one handles a situation, whether they dwell on it or let it go. A lot of depression issues are due to anxiety, with can be a response to how one handles fear. Depression is a big issue in the U.S. along with many other countries, but I believe it’s because of the fear of the unknown. Fear tactic have been placed on every person in one way or another. In Christianity, the fear of the Rapture is always in the forefront of people’s minds. When Year 2,000 came, many people believed that the Rapture would take place, but it didn’t. People actually committed suicide or caused violence in response to what they believed to be an apocalyptic time. It’s interesting and scary to see how far people will go if they think it’s the end of days.

All of these examinations and thoughts have led me to the research question: Why is fear of the apocalypse relevant?

[1] Eckersley, Richard. “Nihilism, Fundamentalism, Or Activism: Three Responses To Fears Of The Apocalypse.” Futurist 42.1 (2008): 35-39. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.


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