For example, one of my friend has fear of heights, even if there is a strong glass window and no reason for him to fall off. He is even aware and admits his fear is irrational.

Many may say it’s in subconscious mind or neurologically left brain, in that case, can you let me know experiments(better if I can do it myself) , research paper and scientific resources that explains this phenomenon in details.

Is there no way to communicate to this part of brain? Does it not follow rationality?

Does philosophical perspective helps? As some of spiritual/non-spiritual thinker may claim?

Edit: Reference: https://acmelab.yale.edu/sites/default/files/our_unconscious_mind.pdf ”Research has recently brought to light just how profoundly our unconscious mind shapes our day-to-day interactions“

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. What makes you believe that "Many may say it’s in subconscious mind or neurologically left brain"? Please help us to help you and edit your question to provide more information on what you have read on this subject, what made you ask this question, and any problems you are having understanding your research. If you found nothing, what did you Google? This helps to provide an answer which will be more helpful. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ "If not, then how placebo effect works?" How is this related to your question? Regardless, I recommend against asking follow-up questions which presume an answer to your original question. Therefore, this is best edited out. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ Good advice, removed question on ‘placebo effect’ and added one reference. Will add more. $\endgroup$
    – old-monk
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


Some scientists will say that a fear of heights (and spiders, snakes, and the dark) are innate, i.e. that we are born with them because they confer an evolutionary advantage. In other words, a fear of heights tends to prevent falls, and a fear of snakes tends to prevent snake bites. We tend to have little control regarding when these fears arise.

However, the amount of fear/anxiety we feel for any given thing or situation can be modulated. For example, many therapists use a strategy called "exposure therapy," exposing the patient to the feared thing or situation repeatedly, in a safe manner, which typically results in a reduction in the intensity of the anxiety response. Another example: when people do regular physical exercise, many studies show that their mood rises and they react less strongly to negative events. They even feel less physical pain when injured (compared to sedentary adults). There are many other strategies one can use to modulate painful feelings, which can be found in the book of Sudism (sudism.org). EDIT (Dec 14 2019): Sudism is a philosophy, not a science, owing to the fact that it is not currently possible to precisely measure positive and negative affect (i.e. our feelings of pleasure and pain). Take care.

EDIT (Dec 14 2019) -- Here are some supporting references that illustrate that (A) exposure therapy is beneficial for reducing anxiety, that (B) physical exercise is beneficial for reducing physical pain, and that (C) certain fears are innate:

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. Can you please cite some example papers on the innate nature of fear, the effects of exposure therapy and the claim that felling of physical pain can be lessened with rising mood as a result of physical exercise? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the constructive criticisms and suggestions. I have updated my answer accordingly by adding supporting references. I've also clarified that sudism is a philosophy, not a science, for the simple reason that there are no instruments to precisely measure subjective affect (i.e. pleasant or unpleasant sensations, whether physical, emotional, or otherwise). $\endgroup$
    – Pi Da
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 14:13

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