A primary relation between the human being and the environment is that of vulnerability. Vulnerability and its sequelae provide a major set of concepts for explaining human behaviour in all its form. To say that a human is vulnerable is to say that her needs can be frustated and interfered with, the result being the experience of distress and its associated behaviors. I am going to discuss in more detail the kinds of emotional distress and associated behaviors that result when needs, especially personal needs, are frustrated and interfered with.
When understanding needs are frustrated through a lack of information or a set of concepts that could make the human situation in particular, or human condition in general, intelligible and manageable, then the resultant distress is experienced as anxiety and in its more intense phases, fear. If not suppressed, such fear can appear in the body as cold perspiration and involuntary trembling. In humans, severe physical threat, where there is a possibility of death, also involves psychological threat, since physical death is an assault of the unknown consciousness. Death is enormously painful, striking a blow to the very core of our being and leaving us pained for months and years to come. It st