Fear is the most powerful motivation for human behavior. It can inspire an act of self-preservation and potentially save ones life. However, it can also send a person into frenzy over the smallest matters. In the short story, A Matter of Balance the role of fear as a psychological motivator of human behavior is evident. Harold has a complicated relationship with fear that has developed over the course of his life. The three types of fear that dictate his actions are: fear of mutilation, fear of extinction, and fear of loss of autonomy. His first encounter with fear occurs before he completely understands the emotion. Being bullied at a young age implants a fear of mutilation in Harold. Moreover, his wifes death has a lasting impact on Harolds psychology. It leaves him with a fear of loss of autonomy. As her death is sudden and unexpected, it is understandable that Harold is averse to uncertainties and the loss of uncontrol. Furthermore, this also evokes the fear of extinction in Harold. His wifes death leaves him fearing for his own. It is evident that these past experiences follow him and impact his decision. He struggles with the ghosts of his past and threats of the present while trying to retain his balance. Harolds behaviour in the short story A Matter of Balance can be analyzed using the Psychological Theory.
The fear of mutilation is installed in Harold when he is bullied by his peers as a young child. When Harold notices the bikers staring at him, this fear comes rushing back. Harold is intimidated by the bikers and feels threatened when one of them shoots a finger gun. There is parallelism between the actions of the bikers and his childhood bullies. They are both childish in nature and do not have an evident motivational force. In Harolds first impressions of the bikers, we see the anxiety inducing side of fear. He is immediately repulsed by them and feels a mixture of contempt and fear (Valgardson 250) towards them. As a result of his past experiences, Harold chooses against going through the bikers and continues his hike. While, he believes that he is acting on the basis of self-preservation he is also contemplating whether he is overanalysing the presence of the bikers. This relates to the fear of mutilation as Harold is intimidated by the bikers and is afraid that they may cause him bodily hard.
The fear of extinction is the innate fear of death.