Dr. Faranda's New Book on Fear as Potent


I haven't read this new book but will take a peek at it in the next while and make comments. You may also want to do so. Use the FM ning "Comment" feature here to create a discussion. NOTE: See "Comment" below this blog for my latest thoughts on reading some chapters on Faranda's book.

I've enclosed below the book publisher's description, note that I put in larger font a most interesting thesis Faranada makes about fear and the future. The book looks on first glance like an important contribution to the emerging sub-field called Feariatry (a la Subba & Fisher): 

#1 New Release in Evolutionary Psychology and Buddhism ─ Fear, Contemporary Society, and its Consequences

For anyone suffering from the global pandemic anxiety surrounding the new coronavirus, comes a long awaited exploration of one of the most powerful and primitive human emotions.

A history and culture of fear. Over the last five hundred years, life for the average human being has changed dramatically―plagues no longer wipe out entire families, and no longer do we empty our chamber pots into the street. But, progress in the West has shown that no matter how many dangers we neutralize, new ones emerge. Why? Because our level of fear remains constant.

Fear in contemporary society. For years, Dr. Frank Faranda studied a state of fearfulness in his patients―an evolutionary state that relentlessly drove them toward avoidance, alienation, hypercriticism, hyper-control, and eventually, depression and anxiety. He began to wonder what they were afraid of, and how embedded these fears might be in contemporary society. This book aims to break us free from what he found.

Fear not. Faranda’s Fear Paradox is simple―even though fear has a prime directive to keep us safe and comfortable, it has grown into the single greatest threat to humanity and collective survival. As a consequence, fear is embedded in our culture, creating new dangers and inciting isolation. With global pandemic disruptions and rising anxiety levels, now is the time to shine a light on our deepest fears and examine the society that fear is creating.

But fear not―inside, you’ll learn about:

  • The fear of pain and the fear of the unknown
  • How fear has driven progress in the West
  • The price paid to eradicate fear

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  • Been reading the last parts of the book, to see what really counts for this author. I see biases as a clinically trained person in Psychology, and thus his "fear" conceptualization never really makes it out of the disciplinary 'box' of a comfortable ('secure') worldview in fear management discourses. But the author was popularizing the book. And, although I appreciate the evolutionary perspective on fear, there isn't enough troubling of our culture's knowledge base (nor the author's) in regard to an expanded conception of 'fear' that may be much more accurate (i.e., holistic-integral, critical). At least, I would have liked to see the author cite more fear(ism) researchers. That said, it is a fairly decent book of some value for sure. It reminds us of the common Fear Paradox that gets set up too often, and most importantly the author suggests "intoxication of righteousness" (be it from an inflated ego and/or ideological positionings) is one of the worst "ill effects of the Fear Paradox" (p. 108)--I wish he would have written, 'and visa versa'. 

    Much more could be said on strengths and weaknesses, but in general it is not a book that contributes a lot new to the field of Fear Studies, unfortunately, but more it is a book of stories and cases, and still very much about individual (self) psychology--and, lacks therefore cultural and political contextualization--which, is only briefly touched upon, but at least the author has read some important theorists on the culture of fear (e.g., Burke, Glassner, Robin) but the author misses really important theorists, like Ernest Becker--for without these existential perspectives on fear, I find any fear book just waters down too much the core of understanding of fear (and 'fear' in its cultural production morphs). 

    Despite any critiques initially, the book is growing on me as I read more, and especially I believe Faranda is doing humanity a great service. I wrote a footnote just now in a technical paper on "defining the enemy" (a topic long of interest to me): 

    Faranda (2020) tells the story of how a collective “fear of Nazi Germany’s atomic weapons program in WWII propelled Albert Einstein...to personally advocate for the construction of a bomb that we [Americans] righteously used to destroy hundreds of thousands of lives [Hiroshima-Nagasaki, and beyond that to this day via radiation as a weapon of mass destruction and subtle destruction of our genetics and that of other species as well]” (p. 111). Faranda’s “Fear Paradox” label raises lots of deep troubling questions about the pursuit of ‘good’ when it is hooked to the pursuit of ‘security’ in any way. This story, amongst others Faranda raises, really forces us to see the ambivalent problems with trying to define the enemy in complex systems, re: wicked problems and their solutions. WWII is just one such Fear Paradox, you might say.  

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