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“The feeling of fear during life changes, and the implications to subjective well-being”.

believe-IN conducted, at Glasgow Caledonian University, the first known research study on the lived experience of fear during life-changing events. The goal of this study was to describe for the first time, the subjective experience of fear, during life-changing events, in adulthood.

Research  Study Conclusions (short)

Adult development entails unavoidable stress-inducing Life Events and Transitions, which challenges an individual’s functioning, health, sense of self-worth and well-being. Life Events studied as a type of stressor, yet not known what contributes as a risk factor predisposing the individual to develop a psychological illness. This research argues it is the feeling of fear capable of bringing light to the matter.

Stress is recognizably a significant experience in Changes and Transitions. Life Events not only bring life changes or endings of psychosocial structures, but they might also lead the individual to transition. When it does, the process of disengagement from the old self to build a new identity makes these periods potentially traumatic, of significant instability, inducing stress and anxiety and the danger of psychological decline.

Findings confirm the ‘feeling fear’ to have personal significance, behavioural and physiological responses. Chiefly, the feeling of fear is the precursor of stress and anxiety. In a nutshell, roles of the mind, time, it “can reach years”, identity change, personal growth, other emotions interaction, other people and well-being are relevant components of  the experience.

Themes Identified

  • The Mind, the “Mind” is the “Commander” of the experience.

  • Behavioural and Physiological Aspects

  • Well-being & Other People

  • Identity Change

  • Personal Growth & Emotions interaction

The ‘Feeling of fear’ in life changes is a continual presence, with the mind at the commands for protection of the self-identity, with an impact on subjective well-being; as it is influenced by social interactions, as associates with other emotions, and correlates to identity change.

Fear, it felt alive!” The Mind, the “Commander” for the protection and renewal of self-identity! The positive gain is personal growth.


(feeling fear during Life-changing Events)

Feeling the fear in life changes is a continual presence with the mind at the commands for protection of the self-identity. It holds a sense as if a dark place, filled with emptiness and unknown wanting to meet knowledge once the known (old) reality no longer exists.

In this space, the feeling of fear triggers stress and anxiety as responses to the multiple novel situations.

Márcia Pinho,

believe-IN. Make it Happen! ®



Lived experience of fear reported by seven females, three males age range 38-58 years old (mean = 46.7), with no mental health disorder.


Major Life-changing events reported:

  • breast cancer

  • bereavement

  • divorce/relationships break up

  • employment, career change

  • sudden disability

  • country relocation

  • and more life-events, as participants reported concurrent life change events happening as a result of a major one

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