“My mother always goes out with an umbrella in her bag (even when it is cloudy). She says she feels safe if a loose dog suddenly crosses her. Growing up with this type of behavior, you need to be constantly alert to any, internally, ‘threat’ that an animal may approach,” explains journalist Nuria, 32, who specializes in dogs. because she has access to reason.
Lucia, 24, admits that last summer she overcame the same panic about motorcycles she suffered as a child and that her mother is suffering today too: “I never thought I’d be on a motorcycle I can go Ever since she was young, every time she saw one, she could only see terror, danger or accidents. For me the motorcycle was something I could never touch, like a kind of poison to which if I agreed, something very bad could happen to me”, he says.
The anecdotes that Nuria or Lucia describe are just a few examples that show the power that learning can have through experience. As if the simple fact of seeing our parents’ frenzy, fear and dread over and over again could seep into the way we behave and face life.
Zara Perez, Psychologist Specialized in Systemic Medicine And one transfeminist explains that “when a child is young and sees that his parents are afraid of something, he learns from modeling. In this way, when they tell him that something is dangerous, the child becomes aware of that.” learns the idea and fears it from there. If you feel your parent’s pain or concern about a specific event, this learning can also come through modeling.
Although a priori it may seem like a superficial or unimportant sensation, fear is the point at which many limiting beliefs pivot that coping with everyday life is not as easy as we might at first think. Fear can disguise itself as an insecurity that leads us to distrust each of our decisions, but it can also take root in the form of trauma, when a traumatic event in the past leaves us behind every time at some normal moment. connects to. present.
“I inherited my fear of chopsticks from my father. Any short, long, pointed stick that can get stuck or hurt, it bothers me a lot. I think they may have burst an eardrum. Running with sticks in my hands scares me. The same happens to me with small bones, rabbit bones for example. I am afraid that I or my children will drown with them. If I was already afraid of them, because I’m even more of a mother. Now they are the ones who are drowning, those who run with a stick in their hands, a sucker in their mouth,” explains Roger, 38, who also suffers from a limited fear of heights: “I can’t look outside.” A balcony located above the third floor without shaking. Exactly the same happens with my mother too,” he added.
When it comes to knowing the origins and origins of our fears, Zara Perez considers it important to distinguish between two types of fears: “While acquired fears are those that are associated with our history, learning, and our family, they are universal. are related to situations in which a human being unconsciously feels insecure. A fear of heights or the dark would be a universal phobia. Therefore, when an acquired fear or a traumatic experience is directly linked to a universal phobia, that fear grips us even more. It is a mix between nature and learning.”
In his particular case, Roger thinks he remembers the exact moment in which his fear of chopsticks and sharp objects changed his perception of risk and, therefore, his way of perceiving reality: “If I’m not mistaken, So it was at a wedding. My little sister took one of these quills she used to decorate the cake and put it in her ear. The next thing I remember is the blood, the hospital, the ER and my very nervous Father. He had a very bad time since he saw us with something like a stick, something like this happens to him when he sees his grandchildren playing with something like that”, he says .
“When we experience a traumatic event, in response, the brain may or may not develop fear. That is, there will be cases where the brain reacts differently when exposed to trauma-related events, but generally But if a traumatic event occurs, it is a natural process for the brain to know that it may be harmful and from there, create a new fear. Thus, the more traumatic the experience we have lived, the greater the fear. We will have later”, explains Zara Perez.
“In my house we always knew there was a cockroach because my mother was screaming uncontrollably. And although my father, my brother, or I were in charge of helping him when I was young, as I grew I began to realize that this fear limited me as well. One day at the age of 19 came when I saw a cockroach and I was paralyzed. My fear went from 0 to 100. I didn’t have time to think rationally and understand that I was a bug and there was nothing wrong. I had to run,” says 34-year-old Cintia, adding that she believes this change in her perception of danger is due to the fact that her daily exposure to cockroaches has varied: “When I was 12 So we went and left the neighborhood where I grew up and where there were a lot of cockroaches. I went on to see one or two cockroaches over a period of five years, far from being exposed to them normally. They stopped being something I was used to seeing and turned into a bug that completely paralyzed me”.
Beatriz and her sister live with a wasp, a horror they’ve seen in their mother since they were kids: “Our mom is allergic to wasps and every time she sees one, she’s going to see one.” The place starts screaming and running. And although everyone tells you ‘don’t move, it doesn’t do anything’, it’s better than us. We can’t help but move on and run. This is a phobia. In fact, I was bitten by one even when I was 13 and I found it wasn’t that bad, even today my sister and I keep screaming and running in panic with my mother.” , 37-year-old Beatriz says Huh.
Along these lines, Zara explains that a fear and a phobia are not exactly the same thing. Whereas “fear is something we can more or less learn to live with, phobia is much more intense, irrational and has a pathological character.”
In fact, as collected This test was conducted at the Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre. carried out byOne of the main problems faced by patients suffering from phobias is the anxiety process that is triggered when the person is exposed to the situation that arouses the panic. As a possible solution, the researchers looked at whether cognitive-behavioral therapy could improve symptoms of a specific phobia. Thus and after testing exposure therapy and expectation violation techniques in a 12-year-old patient, they found that after this procedure the child was able to expose his fears until his level of anxiety was completely reduced Go.
Can we do something so that children do not inherit fear?
“It’s something that bothers me, that I ask myself almost constantly. Is there any way I can’t pass on my fears to my kids? But I guess I didn’t succeed because my son was the first. I’m afraid of pigeons since. That’s why I’ve failed miserably. I think the most tangible fears (pigeons, dogs, men on an empty street at night) are more difficult to hide. I want to be able to save them , want to be able to speak to them verbally and act with respect in front of them. However, when there are too many pigeons at once I turn the sidewalk or I’m uncomfortable if I’m at my feet while drinking on the terrace And my children, who are my shadow, look at it and turn the sidewalk with me. Accepting fear does nothing, I just believe we should try not to invalidate us and for them Learn that that’s okay too. On the other hand, most inner fears, deepest in content and form, are easy to keep in the private space of my head. Or, at least, I hope and want. That’s it”, says Roger again.
“I want my children, if I have them in the future, not to suffer from a fear of dogs and cats. I know I wouldn’t want to have animals in my house, but I want them to come naturally Learn to live with them. I don’t want them to condition their lives like I do. I’m at a friend’s house after dinner to get away from an anxiety attack because she has cats and I’ve made plans have stopped attending because I knew there were animals. I have companions with dogs too and I’ve had to get used to them because I’m very sensitive and if I see an animal in another room because of me Bandh hai toh me difficult hai. So I want my future children to be calm in that aspect”, tells Nuria about the fear of animals that she inherited from her mother.
In this regard, Zara Pérez is realist and believes that it is very difficult to prevent a child from not feeling their parent’s fears about certain events, as not understanding it would mean that their parents are their parents. becoming part of the behavior, something that may also be noted: “When we talk about anxious and fearful parents it is almost impossible for children not to feel the pain that They feel and that’s how they learn and assimilate them. Children have a very good radar for understanding what kinds of situations are capable of causing anxiety in their parents, basically, because They are their caregivers and they depend on them. The best way not to pass on your suffering to your children is not to hide them, but to work on them so that they can actually decrease in intensity”, explains the psychologist .
Desiree de Faez, film critic and writer scream queen, a book telling different stories about female phobia, has recently been created a podcast on the same subject. Her goal is to break the stigma and shame we sometimes feel about our fears and make it the focus of conversations with our guests. Thus, in her first show, filmmaker Belen Funes talks about her weaknesses and how even low self-esteem can become a fear in itself as it affects the relationships we build with the environment. controls.
And, although this may sound logically contradictory, the older we get, the more fearful we become. That is to say, instead of feeling more excited to face any situation of life at age 40, in general terms, we are more afraid than at age 13. This is because, according to Zara Perez, something that some psychologists call the abandonment of omnipotence: “When we are young we have a sense of omnipotence, such as the feeling that nothing can happen to us. However As we grow, we see that life also has a dark face, we accumulate negative experiences and we see how bad things happen to those around us and this generates new ideas around fear. Obviously, new resources are also being generated that help us deal with them because if we don’t all get screwed by the age of 40, but certainly part of the process of maturing and growing up to consider this idea. to give up that nothing can happen to us”, he concludes the psychologist.