What does anthropology have to say about how the emotions fear/fright effect well beingâ€¦.
During our lifetime we will encounter many different situations, which will ultimately lead to raised stress levels, i.e. work deadlines, raising our children, relationship problems etc.
But what if the stress you were being caused was as a result of some magical force placed upon you by an enemy, which would ultimately lead to your untimely death. In some cultures this threat is very real. It is commonly known as â€œvoodoo deathâ€ this belief in magic and sorcery seen to exist in many cultures across the world i.e. Australian aborigines, Andean highlands, Hong Kong, South East Asia, North Africa, Siberia, the list goes onâ€¦.
It differs slightly from culture to culture but the general principles are the same all are caused magic and sorcery imposed on one by some other which will ultimately cause the victim harm or even lead to their death.
So how can we try to explain this phenomenon? One of the most famous of explanations comes from Walter B Cannon a famed physiologist who studied the phenomenon. His work focused on the autonomic nervous system. Cannons theory stated that when a person comes across a danger of some sort i.e. An encounter with the enemy, the body responds by going through a number of automatic changes, heart rate increases, blood flows to the muscles, all these changes prepare you for this danger, otherwise known as the â€˜fight or flightâ€™ reaction. An almost instant burst of alertness and energy, when hormones secreted by the glands send the necessary information around the body. He refers to two co-existing reactions, the Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic. The Sympathetic involves all the reactions mentioned above which prepare us for â€˜flightâ€™ response. But its opposite is the Para-Sympathetic, which conserves energy constricting the pupils, lowering blood pressure and heart rate etc, more so as one prepares to flee rather than fight.