We have all heard the seemingly discriminating remarks that fear is normal and abnormal. Normal fear is to be regarded as a friend, while abnormal fear should be destroyed as an enemy.
“In civilized life it has at last become possible for large numbers of people to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a pang of genuine fear. Many of us need an attack of mental disease to teach us the meaning of the word.”
– William James
The fact is that no “normal fear” can be named which has not been clearly absent in some people. People who have had every cause there for. Running over human history in your mind, or look about in the present life.
You will find persons who in situations or before objects which ought, as any fearful soul will insist. It will inspire the feeling of at least normal self-protecting fear. Nevertheless wholly without the feeling. They possess every feeling and thought demanded except fear.
The idea of self-preservation is strongly present as with the most abjectly timid or terrified, but fear they don’t know. This fearless awareness of fear suggesting conditions may be due to several causes. It may result from constitutional make-up, or from long continued training or habituation.
Maybe from religious ecstasy, or from a perfectly calm sense of spiritual self-hood which is unhurtable. Can also from the action of very exalted reason. Whatever the explanation fact remains.
The very causes which excite fear in most of us, merely appeal, with such people, if at all. To the instinct of self-preservation and to reason. The thought-element of the soul which makes for personal peace and wholeness.
Banish all fear
Such considerations that I have come to hold that all real fear-feeling will and may banish from our life. “Normal fear” should be substituted in our language by “instinct” or by “reason,” the element of fear being dropped altogether.