On the psychological elements of danger and the importance of perception of danger

To some people danger is very interesting and challenging whether people engage in dangerous activities such as spying or even bungee jumping, the ability to face, control and overcome danger are some of the major challenges that some people seem to enjoy. The lure of danger is almost irresistible for some as being able to participate in some sort of dangerous activity is akin to a state of arousal and participation in dangerous activities could lead to hormonal changes. Danger has two elements in its psychological effects – one is the feeling of fear and the other is the need to overcome this feeling of fear. So let’s say there is an effect and an anti-effect as a feeling of fear leads to a feeling of vulnerability and weakness and the survival factor in a human urges a person towards facing and overcoming this feeling of vulnerability and weakness.

The fear factor and need to control, manipulate, challenge and overcome the fear factor is the main motivation for embracing all forms of danger. However one very important thing is the perception of danger and in some cases the attraction towards a dangerous activity increases if it is considered as sufficiently challenging and dangerous and these people who perceive danger as attractive are ones who are aware of their feelings of fear and are strangely motivated by these feelings of fear. In some other cases certain activities despite being dangerous may not be considered as dangerous enough by certain people and this suggests that these people who do not want to perceive danger as dangerous enough are motivated by the need to overcome feelings of fear.

The perception of danger is thus motivated by these two factors – the need to face and confront danger and the need to overcome or conquer danger. The attraction for danger is especially high for people who like probing or understanding things at a deeper level. Some may not be exceptionally sporty and might prefer dangerous activities that may not involve physical risk situations as in case of writers or journalists who may take great risks to portray events and situations or their own controversial thoughts although they may not directly get involved in physically dangerous situations yet are nevertheless seekers of danger in a certain way. Thus there can be many kinds of danger that people are attracted to and these may be:

  1. Dangerous sports –
  2. Dangerous political activities –
  3. Dangerous creative activities –
  4. Dangerous professional activities –
  5. Dangerous anti-social activities

Individuals are attracted to dangerous sports as it provides a sense of thrill and this thrill is akin to an adrenalin rush or a state of arousal and the individuals are motivated by the need to experience fear. Danger sports such as motocross and bungee jumping, rock climbing and mountain biking provides physical pleasure because during extreme emotions such as thrills, the hormonal release provides pleasurable sensations. In case of political activities however, individuals are motivated by the need to overcome and conquer fear as political activities could be mass rallies, demonstrations and other activities where individuals either resort to or face violence and other types of danger. Creative activities such writing or painting controversial and highly provocative pieces could again be dangerous and in most cases the writer feels ‘fired’ by an inner necessity to create a stir, project a cause or fulfill a mission. Writing or any creative activity could be considered as a creative channeling or sublimation of sexual energy according to Freudian terms and the root of such activity would be sexual desire.

The release of sexual energy through creative activity is akin to sexual arousal and thus the individual in this case is motivated by the need to experience fear. In some cases however the fear factor is largely suppressed by the need to fulfill a mission through the creative work. Fear and arousal are interrelated as fear also causes arousal and associated hormonal changes. Professions could also involve danger as in the case of spying or agent work, working in the military or even for professional performers who engage in stunts. Dangerous professional activities could involve the need to both confront and overcome fear although individuals have to perform activities out of necessity rather than any specific desire to experience danger. Yet the very fact that such professions attract certain types of individuals highlight that the need to experience fear could be very strong initially in certain types of personalities. Dangerous anti-social activities such as terrorism, suicide bombing, attacks, crimes etc. can have various motives from a sense of mission or purpose although the underlying need to experience and conquer fear is very strong in this case. Crimes are usually committed as a result of aggressive impulses and the need to engage in antisocial activity would be similar to the need to engage in creative activity as both would be a release of sexual energy and the criminal is motivated by the need to experience fear. The thought of a crime or doing something radical, shocking and different instills a sense of thrill in many individuals. The artist or writer is motivated by this need to shock, the criminal is also motivated by this need to shock and do something radical and here fear becomes both a challenge and an experience. The psychology of danger is ultimately based on the perception of danger and the fear factor caused by this perception. Some people could consider the need to overcome fear as a challenge and prerequisite to one’s development as overcoming fear could improve competitiveness and mental strength. The added need to shock as a method of conquering fear of danger is seen in artists and criminals but not in sportsmen and professionals to whom danger is more about facing and experiencing the thrills of fear and arousal.

The artists and writers may also share a passion for danger and a mission with the political activists whose love for danger is fired by a sense of mission or purpose. Thus although the need to experience and overcome fear remain the primary elements in the psychology of danger, the need to shock and the need to fulfill a mission or purpose are other secondary elements that motivate individuals to pursue danger. Danger is similar to adventure although adventure may not always involve the risks that dangers do. A psychology of adventure would thus in many aspects overlap a psychology of danger and vice versa.

Source by Saberi Roy

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