This will be a two-part post the first of which will focus on some personal background while explaining fear in general and the second part which will focus on LARP specifically.
This morning I went outside with my fur child and could finally feel the chill of Autumn in the air. I have always loved this time of year even as a child. While most were bemoaning the new school year I was already figuring out my costume for Halloween. One year I decided to go as a werewolf in a long black robe and riding roller skates. Why roller skates? I thought gliding around would be creepier than just walking. I guess that might be where this all started in earnest but by far is not were my love solidified. In fact, I was unable to deal with fear for a very long time. It wasn't until my cousin made me watch Children Of The Corn that I could actually handle fear in any measure. I remember thinking to myself at the tender age of seven or so "If I don't want to be afraid, I can just be the scary thing."
Thanks Isaac Chroner.
Anyone who has spent more than a few hours around me knows that I am a huge fan of horror. I don't mean just movies which are usually cheap; rife with pointless jump scares that do nothing more than cause anxiety (more on that in a minute). I mean actual mind shattering horror. I think that fear is the basest of human instinct beyond every other instinct. It drives us to and from our goals, it puts wedges between us, it grips us making us unable to move or act. It fascinates me on a somewhat obsessive level and I'm ok with that. The conquering of fear, the molding it and using it for an ends is on my mind most days.
I have terrible nightmares most nights that have become a new normal. I don't even mention them now unless they are something noteworthy. It's the reason I can no longer eat prosciutto. Isn't that oddly specific? That's what fear is, mostly learned behaviors.
Take this for example, click the gif:
It's not much and some people may not be frightened by it but I bet there are plenty who felt a sense of fear and anxiety surrounding the idea of clicking the image. What did you see? Better question, what did you think you would see?
Going back to the difference between fear and anxiety, there is a difference even though the difference might be difficult to distinguish. Fear is the sensation you feel when you are alone in the woods and hear a branch crack. You feel a sense of anxiety but more importantly your senses heighten. That feeling of your hair standing on end, your ears perking up to the point you might even hear your own blood flow and the acute sense of dread is what fear is. Anxiety lacks many of the physical attributes for survival while fear grips us and allows us the tools necessary to live.
I mentioned that fear is mostly learned and while that is true, take for example universal fears. There is fear when we hear a branch crack in the woods, we fear the slightly open closet door, we fear under the bed or just around the bend in the dark alley. We aren't taught these things usually. My parents never taught me that there was a monster in my closet but I know I feared one before I was ever told a story. We are biologically programmed to see eyes, faces and other potentially threatening shapes for our own survival. It's why when looking into the deep darkness of the woods we see the shadows move in a way that is a person or an animal and despite our best efforts to override our emotions with our logic we sometimes slip and think that maybe it's something worse.
There is even a hierarchy of fear which shows and explains the five universal fears we have no matter who you are or what culture you are from. Below is an explanation for this heirarchy.
" Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it "fear of death." The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety, about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it's commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness. "
I'd love to tell you why I can't eat prosciutto anymore, why the smell of it turns my stomach and makes my face go white. I'd like to tell you over a beer though and for the meantime let your mind wander.