The following is a response to the article “Searching the Brain for the Roots of Fear” by Joseph Ledoux, which originally appeared in the New York Times Opinion Section. In the article, he tells how science defines fear and anxiety as two separate mental states, although there are few who are able to make the separate distinctions. Scientifically speaking, fear is a negative state that is caused by a presence that has the potential to harm, while anxiety is a negative state that anticipates a threat, and this state can be extremely heightened for humans due to imagination. Recently, scientists have been able to pinpoint the region of the brain that associates with fear and danger; this area is known as the amygdala. This research shines hope to perhaps one day treat those who suffer greatly from anxiety.
At the very beginning of the article, I was immediately able to connect with the example of a fearful experience, which was encountering a potentially dangerous animal while taking a walk in the woods. I take walks in the woods often, and although I personally have never had such an experience, I was able to relate with the passage and understand the point of the article. Since fear is such an unconscious function of the brain, I also became some-what intrigued as to how science is able to physically locate the area in which fear is processed in the mind. Fear is a universal feeling amongst both humans and animals, so the article was relate-able to anyone, however I struggled to fully understand some of the concepts with defining areas of the brain. I felt that Ledoux’s article was very informative and had a good scientific background, especially around those who suffer greatly from issues associated with fear. Although I found it interesting that scientists are now able to figure out the functions of the brain when it comes to fear, I felt that the issue of anxiety disorders was a little over-exaggerated. Despite this, I truly believe that figuring out the functions of the human brain in order to treat and prevent mental disorders is important, as are all forms of medical treatment.