Margot (Margit Carstensen) is a middle class housewife and expecting mother. During her pregnancy, She begins to act hysterical, see things that are not there and dependent. Her faithful husband Kurt is (Ulrich Faulhaber) is too busy with college work and doesn't notice that his wife is going their a psychological crisis. Margot becomes addicted to Valium (a recurrent theme in Fassbinder's middle class films). When they run out, she begins a liaison with the local pharmacist (Adrian Hoven). Her mother (Brigitte Mira) and sister-in-law (Irm Hermann) know that something is wrong with Margot and try to help her out. Instead, they clash with each other as Margot becomes more zonked out on drugs and her ever growing depression.
Margot also has a neighbor Mr. Bauer (Kurt Raab), a darken, unshaven figure who seems to know what's bothering her but she always calls him crazy and brushes off any attempt of a conversation. One day, Margot starts mixing her Valium with alcohol as a way to self medicate herself instead of seeking professional help. All these problems fall on her like a house of cards and she's finally hospitalized in a sanitarium for psychiatric treatment. Dr. von Unruh (Helga Maerthesheimer), Margot's psychiatrist at the hospital diagnoses her with clinical depression and advises her to become more active, get therapy and take her prescribed medications. She also tells her that her previous doctor misdiagnosed her with having schizophrenia and she needs to not have the fear of fear. As the film closes, Margot is typing documents at home, he brother-in-law (Armin Meier) comes in to tell her that the mysterious Mr. Bauer has died, he killed himself. A docile Margot doesn't act all hysterical when she hears the news and just accepts his death with calmness.
Fear of Fear was a made-for-television movie from Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He filmed this one during a down time between theatrical films. His unique way of filmmaking and storytelling takes what could have been an average weepy and made it into an interesting film that has many layers to it. Like who was the mysterious Mr. Bauer and why does Margot call him crazy and run from him? My feeling is that he represented her psychosis and her inability to deal with him reflected her own failure to seek help for her every growing mental problems. When Margot finally seeks professional help for her problem, the Mr. Bauer disappears (i.e commits suicide). Fassbinder's satirizes the "haus frau" and there bland lives that are fueled by Valium, malaise and seclusion. A rarely scene film that definitely needs more exposure because Margit Carstensen's performance is one that has to be seen. She's a very underrated actress who's delivers the acting goods in her portrayal of Margot.