I am currently finishing up the novel 1984 with my senior class. In preparation for Part III of the novel where Winston and Julia are taken to the Ministry of Love, I asked my students the following question: What scares you the most? So, what would O'Brien be using against you? What scares you the most?
It is interesting how Room 101 has become a symbol of facing our worst fears! I don´t think many of us would last too long against that kind of torture, whether our fear were rats or anything like that. I guess for me, rats would be a pretty terrifying fear to confront, after threats or mistreatment of my loved ones. Unfortunately there are many real life examples of how mistreatment of loved ones has been used as a very effective torture technique, though Wilson seems more focussed on breaking down individuals through making them confront their own personal fear.
Other than threats against my loved ones scaring me, I would be petrified if Room 101 involved fire ants. I've been bitten by quite a few of them on two different occasions, so even the thought of the stinging pain that they cause as well as my tongue and lips going numb from their bites would be enough to make me panic.
I think loosing my body abilities to react would kill me. If there was like a magnetic or tazer ability to immobilize me, I would go crazy... especially if an animal of some kind were approaching me in confinement just like Winston goes through. The entire loss of control scares me. I think that's a human condition, we all want to know we can have some control over situations.
I just read 1984 over spring break, and I do remember considering what would make me crack. I thought that Winston was so silly for giving in just because he was confronted with rats, so I wanted to put myself in his position (one can't really relate to someone else's fears). If I were in a room with snakes, I would totally lose it (I've had two near-death experiences with snakes). Actually, I might not even be able to speak if I were confronted by this fear.
I would have to say tight places, any place where I am confined to a small area. They will have top knock me completely out to ever get me in a MRI machine again. I am not even real crazy about elevators.
If you're talking about something that has to be done to me, like with the rats, it would be either spiders or praying mantises, both of which scare me...
But I don't think either of those would be even a fraction as effective as doing or threatening to do something to my kids. I can't imagine anything that would get me to give in quicker than that.
It depends on what you think threats are. If you think of living a life that is unfulfilled, that is scariest the most. Any other physical inconvenience is just a walk in the park compared to a wasted life. That is the scariest thing I can imagine. Or being killed before one has achieved anything.