Fear is the emotional reaction to an actual and specific source of danger. A survival mechanism, fear is usually related to an apprehension toward pain. Severe fear is a reaction to dreadful approaching danger, and trivial fear occurs as a result of a confrontation that does not pose a significant threat. The degrees of fear vary from slight caution to paranoia. Fear can affect the unconscious mind through nightmares.
Fear is often confused with anxiety, which is an emotion that is often exaggerated and experienced even when the source of danger is not present or tangible. While fear is connected to anxiety and other emotional conditions, like paranoia and panic, it is a separate emotion on its own.
Psychologists have discovered that fear can be taught. For example, children can be conditioned to fear certain things. Further, accidents ignite fears. A child who falls into a pool and struggles to swim might develop a fear toward pools, swimming, or water.