Hi- Thanks for your interesting question!
I think you are asking how fear can be developed, is that right?
With classical conditioning, a particular stimulus initiates a particular behavior in such a way that they will be paired together in the person's thoughts and actions. This happens when the behavior is consistently reinforced (punished or rewarded) in the presence of the stimulus.
If a person associates something with either a bad experiences in or a possible future catastrophe, they will react with fear and anxiety
to what may have been a previously neutral stimulus as if it were an actual threat. Classical conditioning is an automatic emotional response that bypasses rational thought because when we perceive that something is threatening, our emotional centers send out an alarm before the rational centers of our brain can even process what is actually happening. This is why you can know that something isn’t threatening and yet still feeling afraid.
For example, driving a car is an event that should not elicit an intense fear response. But, if you associate driving with an accident or a potential one because of a bad experience, you can become conditioned to panic
when faced with driving.
Often avoidance and anxiety develop as coping mechanisms to such fear. For example, a common response to the anticipation of a terrifying experience is to take measures to avoid it. That avoidance behavior is then negatively reinforced/rewarded because your anxiety is stopped by doing it. You stop worrying because you think you'll be successful at avoiding something bad. But then problems develop because even though the anxiety is temporarily avoided , the coupling of fear to the original stimulus event is still maintained. The fear will still be there, lurking in the back of your mind ready to cause problems at a later time. The person never learns that he or she can approach the feared stimulus without a bad outcome.
Obviously, this is a complex topic. Please ask any further questions you need for clarification.
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