It’s a “sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior” according dictionary.com.
I’ve certainly been guilty of it. But it usually doesn’t serve me well. Like the time I convinced myself I had appendicitis and went into such hysterics that I passed out.
I came across this story last week – a construction worker in China was buried alive in the mud with nothing but a gap of air in front of his face (his helmet slid down). He didn’t panic. He practiced meditation and survived two hours on an amount of air that should have lasted five minutes.
I wonder sometimes how I would react in certain situations. What if I was eating in Windows restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11? What if I was in one of the hijacked planes? I don’t think a person truly knows how he or she will respond unless in the situation. God willing, that will never be the case, but if it is, I hope I am like the man in the mud.