Whether you’re afraid of public speaking, tiny enclosed spaces or massive crowds, they can all be traced back to one, truly specific fear: The fear of death. They may be nuanced, and have their own diagnoses, and they may be treated differently, but at the end of the day, it’s all the same fear.
You likely already know that when you’re confronted with something you’re afraid of, it activates your brain’s fight-or-flight response, often overwhelming your better judgement — even if the thing you’re afraid of poses no threat or danger to you whatsoever. Fears like heights, flying or even snakes or spiders make sense in a survival context, but even fears that don’t seem to present mortal threats make sense too when you remember how social human beings are, and how social rejection can be a life or death issue.
The video explainer above goes into more detail about this, and traces a number of these fears, like the fear of losing a relationship, the fear of losing loved ones or, yes, fear of public speaking, back to their very psychological roots.
This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Sometimes evil is justified, and other times, knowing evil means knowing how to beat it. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.