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The following link, will guide you to my recent Dr. A. V., Varughese Memorial Lecture (2020) in Kerala, India

To listen to my lecture you best start the video at the 21:20 mark 

My talk is about ecocriticism as a newly emerging field in the last few decades, that involves literary criticism and ecology. I focus on a particular way I interpret this field and how it can better be holistic in integrating the work on fear and fearlessness. The last 1/2 of the video is made up of questions from the audience and me answering them. 

-enjoy, 

M. 

 

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Join Steve Nation and I in a dialogue on FearTalk #11, part of a series of unique conversations about fear and a lot of other things. Steve is a life-long student of theosophy, and he collaborates in such a way to synergize with me during this spontanteous chat on Zoom. I think you may find it interesting, we cover a lot of topics, and lots of discussion about the United Nations, and other things...

Go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Id7lI6rM0

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"Fearology" Get's a Positive Mention

I'm pleased to see that an article came out recently, with a mention of "Fearology" and my work on this, in relation to the life of Marcus Garvey and Intergenerational Trauma" (by Philip Geoffrey). I've taken the relevant excerpt here:

intergenerational trauma is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which first victims passed their trauma to their children through a series of problematic behaviors[1]. As Bezo notes, “Each generation seemed to kind of learn from the previous one, with survivors telling children, ‘Don’t trust others, don’t trust the world.[2]” These behaviors, rooted in fear of a reoccurrence of the initial trauma, if left unchecked, are often revealed in symptoms such as learned helplessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm, and depression.

Fearology and the RIA Method

One of the most exciting developments in psychology has been in Fearology, a “transdisciplinary study of the interrelationship between fear and the human experience.[3]” The conceptual framework developed by R. Michael Fisher has been advanced by Dr. Mary Poffenroth, who, in a recent interview, outlined methods she has used to “teach people about how to create strategies around fear”: “The first step is just recognizing what's going on. And then the second step would be identifying it, kind of like ‘name it to claim it. And then the A is going to be to address. What kind of strategies do you need to manage outcomes for this?[4]

Now, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Some have called fear a gift because it is survival-based[5]. However, the instinctive caution in a dangerous situation can become a liability when the threat is no longer present.

Marcus Garvey, who was never a fearful man, witnessed firsthand the effects of fear on his family and the debilitating effects that it had on them and worked hard to remove fear-based behaviors from his life. As he stated in Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, “FEAR is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men.[6]

[article is available at http://marcusandtheamazons.blogspot.com]

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[Note: I am glad fearology and my definition are given their due, but it is inaccurate to assume this is a "development in psychology" as my very definition of fearology is "transdisciplinary"--also, my conceptual framework has not "been advanced by Dr. Mary Poffenroth" actually, as she is using "fearology" but virtually totally within a biomedical and psychological conceptual and traditional disciplinary lens; as well, I do not support Garvey's definition of fear, for several reasons]

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I just received a message from Pooja Soni, a young author on consciousness, who has spent many years writing a very intense philosophical treatise (new theory) examining consciousness, development and yes, looks also at fear where necessary, in order to articulate the 'shaping' effect of fear experiences. Book is available: Pooja wrote to me: 
 
"Here is a recent interview of mine describing my book -  [and here is a recent FearTalk #10 Soni & Fisher in conversation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqif3--8L5c ]
 
The basic idea regarding emotions such as fear that I advocate in my book is that negative experiences or emotions are crucial for learning and development of an individual. 
Treating negative experiences in pessimistic terms exposes our obsessions regarding the idea of a perfect world, a world where you can control everything. 
Our fears and negative experiences define who we are as persons."
 
[Note: Pooja joined the FM ning years ago, and has a few posts which you can find if you do a Search in the upper right box on the FM ning home page] 
[see also a discussion Pooja and I had on their "Panexperientialist view of fear" on the FM ning a few years ago]
 
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There's a long story behind my finding this 4 pp. fold-out brochure in a medical library in New York City. It is the only evidence currently available on this group [1] that was apparently started under the guidance of the famous theosophists, Alice & Foster Bailey. Since 2006, when I found this brochure (which I made in color, aged, and adapted with a few excerpts here only using photoshop), I have been searching for answers to the mystery of where this group and The League 'disappeared' and why no traces. Currently, the fine folks at Lucis Trust, NY, are attempting to search into this. Curiously, no body in the current big American theosophical organizations has heard of this League but they do suspect the Bailey's were quite likely to have taken on initiating such a project. IF anyone has any leads to finding out more about this group, let me know: 

r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

But besides that fascinating historical evidence, and a story yet told, I wanted to share the brochure today, it seems appropriate as just 5 days away from one of the most important elections ever in U.S. history. The level of tension, fear, dread, etc. is palpable. It's also in my dreams. And, so, I thought it would be good to share these words, ideas, and spirit of fearlessness from this group in 1931, of which North America was deep in the Depression and fear was rampant. If you haven't already picked-up the nuanced connection between The League's mission and my own via the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ) and later, founding the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (1991- )--and, the uncanny sense of a paralleling historical soul-based work that is wanting to go on in this world, it is so obvious to me--and yet, struggles of resistances to manifest this Project effectively are so powerful as well. To say it bluntly, there is no such project that has such a systematic well-thought out "program" to improve fear management and remove fear on the planet as a barrier to the evolution of consciousness. This is powerful beyond words. I wished, in retrospect, I would have found this brochure in 1989--boy, that would have made a big difference! But, that's the way it is. 

End Note

1. Just recently, I have attained a few documents on this group, I am reviewing, and will keep you posted with updates, if you let me know you are interested. 

 

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EXOTIC FEAROLOGY

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Author Bhawani Shankar Adhikari

EXOTIC FEAROLOGY is a book emerged with ample examples of fear study on the countenances of the people especially on the various airports during the beginning of the coronavirus spread from China to western world and different narratives as coronavirus, airports, seas and the author as in the meditative trance with the poetic voice of reality of eco-turbulence globally. The examples of traumatic sights of the visitors of the planes have been reflected in the co-writing with Dr. R. Michael Fisher and the author himself on the principle of what Fearology is and its implication to day to day life as experienced being in traumatic form. It has, of course, provided a new taste and knowledge for the readers so far.  

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New Book Released: "Exotic Fearology"

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EXOTIC FEAROLOGY is a book which emerged with ample examples of fear study on the countenances of the people especially on the various airports during the beginning of the coronavirus spread from China to western world and different narratives as coronavirus, airports, seas and the author as in the meditative trance with the poetic voice of reality of eco-turbulence globally. The examples of traumatic sights of the visitors of the planes have been reflected in the co-writing with Dr. R. Michael Fisher and the author himself on the principle of what Fearology is and its implication to day to day life as experienced being in traumatic form. It has, of course, provided a new taste and knowledge for the readers so far.  -BSA

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Author of "Exotic Fearology" Bhawani Shankar Adhikari (Ph.D. candidate)

 

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Fearosophy: Popularized

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Perhaps as we come close to OCT. 31, Halloween ('Day of the Dead' OR what may better be called 'Day of Fear')-- it is interesting to observe what all the dramatization of the collective psyche that exists at this time of year. As I walk around my neighborhood (in Calgary, AB, Canada) it amazes me still to see how much energy, expense, and ritual is still well and alive on this festival of darkness, festival of fear)--oh, yes, and it is seemingly so perfect that I happen to just find this short video performance online today called Fearosophy.

Fearosophy was coming up in my journaling this morning, in that I was studying the history of theosophy from the late 19th century (formally, with the founders Olcott & Blavatsky). I am always thinking of ways to name, locate historically, and articulate a narrative of compelling nature to the public and scholars around why Fear ought to be given the status of say Theosophy, or Anthroposophy, or Philosophy itself... it's been a long search for decades, and I am not yet happy about the results. Yet, it is fascinating that fearosophy comes back to me and arises as something to ponder more; what capabilities does it have to mobilize greater interest in Fear (Studies, fearology, fearism, fearlessness, etc.). 

I looked up to see my own prior definition of fearosophy and in the International Journal of Fear Studies vol. 1 (2), p. 13, there is my cursory definition (I'll repeat): 

fearosophical- (RMF) operational characteristics of the practice of fearosophy

fearosophy- (RMF) the general philosophical base that specializes in the study of fear (e.g., fearism)

OK. So, that's a start, but it doesn't say much. One would have to inquire much more seriously beyond a mere definition to see what is behind fearosophy (btw, I rarely have used this term since discovering it some many years ago, I think during my dissertation years c. 2000 - 2003, when I looked at all the various vocabularly that had been created seriously around the term Sex; and sure enough, there was a sub-field called "sexology" and "sexosophy" believe it or not, and that immediately triggered the creative impulse to create such a language for the term Fear-- thus, fearology and fearosophy were coined and I have mostly only given attention to fearology, but that said, it is impossible to articulate fearology, in my approach, without an underbelly (less visible) that articulates a philosophy of fear and fearlessness; of late, in the last few years, I am stretching beyond even a philosophy of fearlessness to say that I am working on a fearlessness philosophy (and psychology). So, I realize today, discovering the need to talk again about fearosophy (as analagous to my current study of theosophy) that maybe I need to use both terms more consciously, and thus, to say formally here that a fearlessness philosophy is fearosophy. 

Oh, and as for the (anonymously posted) Youtube video called "fearosophy" --well, it's interesting (albeit, not the best actual performance, but the costume and sound track are creative)--and I wonder what story is behind this piece played in front of a crowd (perhaps, in a university class?) [1]--and, it is certainly, dramatizing a message that I have heard (a discourse on fear, and/or discourse of fear)--that is part of a revelatory expressionism, often in arts, that performs FEAR as an icon, as a figuration for the culture at the time (yes, a 'monster' archetypal form)--and, this is historically and psychological significant--it is cultural dynamics of Fear at its most overt form (again, not unlike Halloween cultural dramatization). These narratives, stories and configurations, even when they are quite idiosyncratic like the one in this video performance, tell basically the same thing (you can, find the same message in the universal teachings of all main religions, for e.g.)--is a story, really a meta-story of FEAR HAS CAPTURED YOU, CAPTURED YOUR SOCIETY--FEAR IS YOUR MASTER! Of course, such a dramatization is not something I am saying is 'good' in and of itself. My fearanalysis would go much deeper than these surface dramas and figurations and "teachings" (e.g., the creator of this performance created a text of teaching to go with it on the sound-track)--but, what is missing from such superficial dramatizations is the harder, deeper, and fully therapeutic work--individually and collectively--and, that's where fearosophy has to go to the next level, and the next, and the next... and, then, maybe something really useful (perhaps, even liberatory) will come from it. 

End Note

1. I did a little online research and in Russian language (w/ English transl.) I found the following e-group discussing the topic of Scarecrow as a symbolic figure from the Batman narrative (sci-fi story, movie, TV show, etc.)--and, it looks like a professor started this in 2013 as a discussion group; here is the original text from this group's website, that accompanies the performance (which is probably the professor himself in the costume): 

Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow

And I will personally give a podzhopnik to every lazy ass to come to life at last.
 
The Lord of Fear ... The Lord of Terror ... The embodiment of cunning and unpredictability ...
He does not obey the laws of the society that rejected him. He has his own laws, his own philosophy - the philosophy of fear ... His extraordinary intellect makes him stronger than overpowered superheroes, and the paradox and unpredictability sometimes lead even Batman himself to a dead end ...

He is Jonathan Crane, whose alter ego - Scarecrow - became for him the personification of fear, revenge and rebellion against other people's rules. He instills terror in the townspeople of Gotham City, hiding his own fears, and openly mocks those who once mocked him.
Ice and fire, handsome and monster, genius and madman in one person ... outwardly imperturbable and cold-blooded, but with a real hurricane of emotions and experiences in his soul ... The scarecrow will take revenge on everyone who has ever mocked his helplessness and insignificance, demonstrating all his power and power, the power of Fear and the power of Terror ...

We welcome all Scarecrow fans here, one of Batman's most famous adversaries ... it doesn't matter if you prefer comics, or if you prefer cartoon characters and the role of Cillian Murphy in the films "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" ... feel like in your native Arkham ... Free LSD candies and champagne for all beginners!))

 

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"Fear is a disease": What Do You Think?

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Howard Thurman, author, Africanist, 'Black Power' theologian, mystic, activist during the Civil Rights Movement, was one who studied both W. religions and also visited the far East to study their religions, including the philosophy and social activism of Mahatma Gandhi. Thurman was the spiritual guide for most of the 'big' nonviolent Civil Rights leaders in the USA (including Martin Luther King Jr.). I was fascinated to learn in a recent talk on the internet that Thurman used the phrase "Fear is a disease" and closely linked to "hate"--and, it is one of the great enemies of the human potential and justice, love and compassion. 

So, I'm curious if you all would take a stab at sharing your own reflections here on this phrase by Thurman... (use the Comment fearture). 

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I just listened to this good talk on fear and fearlessness, radical trust, the future, child-rearing and an Indigenous view on life in general. I recommend: 
 
 
"For life to continue on earth, every day must be Indigenous Peoples’ Day" 
 
Darcia Narvaez's Discussion with Four Arrows about Indigenous Approaches 
to Human Development and the "Evolved Developmental Niche" (October 9, 2020)
 
Watch on YOUTUBE: https://youtu.be/_1CH1IvFpVM
 
Listen on SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/evolvednest/indigenous-peoples-day-2020-a-discussion-with-darcia-narvaez-and-four-arrows0?ui=2&ik=914a89f2fc&attid=0.1.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1680273384176918355&th=175187bd8d689f53&view=fimg&sz=s0-l75-ft&attbid=ANGjdJ_28um5nS5xw_4WbbeZM2qRcdIlqkPT9Qm91CviFxkNZ83pWf4rRi5baek0KjRm8WqDjpy-ydrkc2mvSE707Em1QlwFaf8b-YSgCn8-teP3y3fUWJuAT6UlyDM&disp=embKindred World is the parent nonprofit of The Evolved Nest. As an award-winning 501C3 nonprofit, Kindred's leadership in the Conscious Parenting Movement has provided a solid foundation for pioneers, scientists, authors, activists, parents and professionals to share their sustainable and peaceful visions for humanity since 1996.
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The spectre of 'The Communist Manifesto'

 
 8012580857?profile=RESIZE_180x180 -Desh Subba
 
Fear of a spectre is the beginning of whole communism. 1st sentence, in 'The Communist Manifesto' Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have written, "A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism (p.3)."
As a philosopher always comes
'Y' did they use the spectre word as a symbol? What is the genesis of the spectre ? They never and nowhere have given answer of genesis of the spectre.
Answer of question is fear and genesis of the spectre is given in genesis of meaning article.
What and whose fear was there in industrial revolution time?
There was fear of exploitation, oppression, torture and domination of bourgeois to proletariat. (It was hypothetical concept of authors)
 
To exorcise from the spectre, they encouraged to make many spectres (association, organization, union, London assembled) among them "Workingmen of all countries, unite! (p.30)" is the universal spectre.
 
Why did they begin manifesto from the spectre symbol. Why did not use other symbols? It is a reason, fear was with them because the spectre is the best synonym of the fear. It is always happening to the life of philosophy and philosopher. They first pick up a word or sentece then elaborate as much as they can. So, it is the first step of whole communism.
 
But they (Marx n Engels) charged all Europe, "All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre (p.3) pope and tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radiclas and German police-spies." in contrast, they entered themselves in many alliances.
 
The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie (p.11)
 
"Wage labor rests exclusively on competition between the labors." (p.13)
 
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." ( p.3)
We can see above three struggles. There is no class struggle but struggle in same profession.
Competition and fighting are a synonym of struggle. The struggle is always happening in the same profession (professor have struggle with professor), rarely happens to other professions. It is the reason, I say, "the History of all hitherto existing society is the History of fear struggle."
 
Marxism says, "before men do anything else, they must first produce the means of their subsistence. Everything else follows from the necessity to produce material means of our subsistence."
 
So, I (Philosophy of Fearism) say/s, "Existence of fear precedes essence." History of materialism has begun from the material of subsistence. Why subsistence was primary, was because they had a fear of death.
 
Note; It can be more described. I am trying to write in coming book 2021. It is some noted point from The Communist Manifesto.
 
Ref.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto, 1848
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Marianne D. Williamson, (1952- ) is an American spiritual teacher, activist, leader, political critic and Democratic progressive living in the USA. She has been documented historically as an important woman "mystic leader" amongst other icons over the last three centuries [1]I have followed her work for over 30 years off and on, and recently have studied her work and her campaign to run for President of the U.S. in 2020, and have a new book coming out soon on "The Marianne Williamson Presidential Phenomenon: Cultural (R)Evolution in Dangerous Times" (Peter Lang, 2020). As well, my deep interest has been in her thinking and writing about Love and Fear. 

Caroline Myss, (1952-) the famous contemporary American spiritual teacher, in a recent interview on Williamson's new podcast, called for a "visionary humanity" that truly transcends the old humanity imaginaries which have brought so much injustice and violence for centuries; Myss acknowledges her friend and colleague, Marianne Williamson in the interview at one point with emphatic tone: 

"I really do want to say, that I deeply believe you have made such a dent in the turning point of this country....Even though you didn't make it to the White House.... your message reverberated and I think what you did was, you implanted an archetype, [2] that spiritual consciousness needs to be part of the governmental dialogue, you did that.... you inserted it." 

What Myss is saying in general, is that Williamson is fully re-introducing a mature and complex spirituality into the political scene--what Williamson calls a "holistic" and/or "integrative" politics, more practically articulated for the common people as in her latest (2019) book "A Politics of Love" [3]. She is telling Americans (and beyond that), we have to heal our souls, individually and collectively--we have to 'heal the nation' or we likely are not going to make it and the world collapse is near upon us. 

In this FM blog, I merely wanted to have one place where people could quickly access the References that refer to my writing and speaking and publishing on Williamson in the last few years. Although this is not the total complete list of my works on her, it is a good starting place to understand why I say I am 'voting' for her, because she is no longer running a political campaign [4] but I am voting for her as one of the best leaders we have today in North America (if not beyond) to guide our societies to more sustainable health, sanity and growth that is in tune with the limitations of our ecological partners on this planet. I salute her as a 'great' leader to be studied and engaged, as you see fit. I think she will improve, mature and become an even greater leader in the future. Although, as I point out in many of my publications below, there is also the susceptibility in her leadership to 'miss' or 'deny' or simply go down a road which I believe will be ineffective to meet her higher aims [5]. Of course, this is all debateable and I encourage dialogue amongst us all to pursue understanding better this leader, and ourselves, and where our societies are going. 

 

My Publications List [all available online free] re: Marianne Williamson

Fisher, R. M. (2020). How to best define 'the enemy: Tips for Marianne Williamson & other emancipatory leaders. Technical Paper No. 113. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

_________ (2020). Marianne Williamson's dubious 'be courageous' prescriptions need a 21st century upgrade. Technical Paper No. 112. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

_________ (2020). The Marianne Williamson presidential phenomenon: Cultural (r)evolution in a dangerous time. NY: Peter Lang.

_________ (2020). Marianne Williamson’s educational mission: Curriculum for ending suffering. Technical Paper No. 110. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

__________(2020). Coronavirus and Marianne Williamson: Teachings for fear management education. Technical Paper No. 92. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

__________(2020). Marianne Williamson phenomenon: Chapter six reading. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xesF3CTWz40

__________(2020). Marianne Williamson: New book dives deeper. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBo66hjxMWg

__________ (2019). Near-fearlessness women leaders and their shadow: U. S. presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. Technical Paper No. 87. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

___________ (2019). Marianne Williamson 3: Love and fear. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJzLb6ALHPg

___________(2019). New ethical leadership: Marianne Williamson 2. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHDlATRUYLM

___________ (2019). Marianne Williamson: Fearmongering herself. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Satev8F7K14

___________(2019). New ethical leadership: Marianne Williamson 1. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjyENboIzxc

 

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END NOTE

1. "Marianne Williamson, presidential candidate and preacher of the New Age Gospel of Love" (according to Scott, 2020). Scott, L. (2020). An American covenant: A story of women, mysticism, and the making of modern America. Topple Books/Little A. Scott, a journalist, author, activist and mystic herself, wrote this book as a "scathing queer feminist history" of five women who ought not be forgotten "who inspired the nation in their own times." 

2. As much as I agree with Myss re: the major contribution of "inserting" a new spirit into politics today, I did not hear Myss in this interview define or name fully the "archetype" that Myss is referring to. I think that is unfortunate. In my book (Fisher, 2020) I have independently from Myss's analysis given a detailed account of the archetype of Williamson but have done so in contradistinction to Trump's archetype (and in dialectical relatonship with him)--as "phenomenon," which I put in ancient mythological terms as "The Twins" (Good vs Evil, Love vs. Fear, Light vs. Darkness etc.). My point is, there is no one archetype (as Myss seems to suggest) that is articulating the current Williamson project in the world, in leadership, and in America. My further critique of Myss-Williamson from this interview is to watch how contradictory their high consciousness articulations are for a 21st century "visionary humanity" and how they operate from a 'gut' expositional discourse as "patriots" (pure and simple American-lovers). What happened to higher consciousness and the evolution of global citizenry as so many great and compassionate evolutionary minds have written about this for hundreds of years. It trully seems Myss-Williamson (as very successful millionaires in American culture) have a 'strange' morality hybridization, which as a Canadian looking on, it has to be called a pattern of deep-conditioning in American exceptionalism (and romanticism). It is this kind of thinking that will hold back, in my view, the maturation of the growth of Williamson as a great world leader but that's not a criticism of disparagement, more an encouragement to be the 'best' she can be. She, like any great leader, needs a lot of support and honest critical feedback too. 

3. See Williamson's two overt political books: Williamson, M. (1997). The healing of America [later titled Healing the soul of America]. Simon & Schuster; and Williamson, M. (2019). A politics of love: A handbook for a new American revolution. HarperOne. 

4. I am predicting she will either run again for Democratic Party leadership (or some other '3rd' option party) in 2024--and, if not, before then, she'll even run for a Congresswoman position; or she'll be esconced into some position even in the Biden Presidency (if he wins, and at this point in time, polls are showing that'll likely be the case).  

5. One of the worst mistakes, is her evolution from calling her opponents (enemies) "sociopathic" as in the current predatory economic system that runs America, to a degrading literalization of people (something she said in earlier speeches in her campaign, and going way back in her spiritual teachings she would not do)--see her recent Twitter (amongst other evidence I have collected on her unbecoming personalizing and demonizing agenda of political leaders): 

"The core of the problem is that only a government dominated by genuine sociopaths could have the heartlessness to ignore that much fear and suffering in our midst."  

Tweet Oct. 7/20

 

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This image comes from the documentary movie "Childhood 2.0" free to watch on Youtube--highly recommend. Any use of new technologies that 'hook' people into addictive relationships with social media are a definite empirical 'danger' to their mental health (levels of fear/anxiety depression) linked to self-esteem--and, in worst cases, the research shows social media for these young people especially is a major cause of suicide (deaths) and/or suicidal ideation. The graph above is a pretty clear indicator of the more social media forms that come available, the more fear is created in your people (due to violence online, in many forms)--and, then the results are no longer just speculation. 

As a fearologist, this kind of data, plus my own intuition, my own experiences with children and teens, etc., shows me that such young people (and it starts early in ages 7 onward for the most part) are incredibly sensitive to the fear of social rejection (or simply rating schemas that the social media designs have built-in to allow one to compare everyone with everyone very quickly and quantitatively, especially by the use of "Likes" measures, which are insidious devices which ought to be banned). But we all know the "tool" is not the problem, it is how we use it.

Families especially today have a major challenge to figure out how to keep connected between the generation gaps, teachers as well, and eventually we'll have to all admit (my request) we 'are scaring ourselves to death' by these computer technologies (especially use of social media) that create a cocktail for emotional disaster for young people. Ernest Becker, the great cultural anthropologist pretty much found in his research that "fear of death" and "self-esteem maintainance" are the 2 greatest motivators and shapers of human behavior. The nuance here is, fear of social death (i.e., exclusion, drop in status, etc.) is the greatest fear because it hits on the death fear and social fear and those hit on the self-esteem fear (loss)--and, a downward cycle results. The paradox is that parents generally believe the cell-phone, for e.g., is such a great "safety" device to keep kids secure, and so on; but real data like in the movie Childhood 2.0 shows that the online environment is more dangerous to the health of a young person than the outside world by a longshot. Check it out. 

The whole addiction cycle involved here--the addiction to security (and use of such devices 'in-hand' all the time like a milk bottle)--is creating the most frightened and depressed young people this world has ever seen en mass, no matter what culture, class, gender, etc. It is a ubiquitous Fear Problem at its base--and, thus, fearology has a lot to contribute to the analysis and solutions. 

 

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Dr. Faranda's New Book on Fear as Potent

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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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The healing of trauma, and the creating of room for growth in the nervous system of our children and other human beings, does not only happen in therapists’ offices. Our everyday lives present us with endless opportunities to heal—through the things we say and do, the harmful things we are able to not say and do, and the ways in which we treat ourselves and others. We all have the capacity to heal—and to create room for thers to heal. Our relationships, communities, and circumstances all call us into this healing.

(from Resmaa Menakem, 2017, p. 305 in My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies)

 

Today, September 18, 2020, I received my absentee ballot to vote in the USA elections from my home in Canada. The United States has been politically, emotionally, and spiritually shaken the past 4 years. The truth of its darkest side unleashed for the world to see. And yet many in the USA still do not to see it. Including some of my devout Christian American relatives who support the current White House resident.

Last night I reread the letter I wrote in the early morning hours on the day after the 2016 election in my desire to not be caught in the deep fear that I could feel so viscerally in my body. I could not imagine going to my office and teaching that day as “normal” so I wrote to my community of students and faculty at the university where I was teaching and administrating. After I sent this letter many told me that they kept turning back to it in their state of shock and despair in the days and weeks that followed.

In less than 2 months we will face the next moment of truth and I find myself preparing.

Dear WGSS Students and Faculty 

I will be sharing the regular newsletter later today but felt the need to share these early morning thoughts in the aftermath of the election. I am a Canadian who chose to become an American 7 years ago after coming to teach at SIU. I have found it hard to understand American thinking and ways of being on so many levels. As a new American I have experienced the significance and responsibility of voting that I never felt as a Canadian. There are many gifts to be found in America. May the peoples of American now become leaders in the recovery and healing of deep systemic institutionalized oppressions that perpetuate hatred and fear. May Canada and all the world allies come forward to join in. The presence of WGSS in institutions of education is an essential part of that recovery. The work is undeniable and we have the knowledge and tools. We teach them in our classes, share them our research. I echo many of my WGSS colleague words on FB. It is time to get to work. 

Barbara

November 9, 2016.

Reality and Recovery

Accepting reality is the first step in recovery. Last night I chose to go to bed before the final election results were known. Awakening this morning at 5am my thought was “Trump has attained the Presidency of the United States of American. This is a reality.” Immediately I moved into thoughts of what I could share in my weekly newsletter to the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies community in which I am the Director of at SIU. I realized what I do know is that a number of disenfranchised groups in America have risen and won over other disenfranchised groups in this current political system. The familiar win-lose binary that keeps racism, sexism, homophobia and every other oppression in place is alive and well. The backlash for the losers is excruciating, full of pain and horror. I feel overwhelmed and ill-prepared for what is to come. I wake my partner up in bed as I weep and shake and ask him for attention. Attention is what we can give each other as we do the conscious work needed to release the collective trauma that has surfaced so blatantly in this 2016 election. It is a trauma that invokes with its worst side the use of intimidation to silence us and keep us isolated and in fear. On its better side it asks us to keep moving from crying to singing. I know from my experience that it is crucial to not silence the voice even when words feel impossible and/or inadequate. While being held by my partner I shift from shaking to singing. As I sing, thoughts of how oppressed groups utilize singing in times of political, cultural and religious oppressions arise in my memory, both in mind and body.

I begin to ask myself questions:

How can I step out of this rampant political binary and step into what can be clearly seen as fearism now that all politically correct hiding strategies have been blown up? How can I model something else more unifying with diversity for those who are part of my professional and personal life? The WGSS conference that I am in the midst of planning with students and faculty is entitled “Allies Across Differences.” We have been preparing to address the binary of win vs. lose, us vs. them. We have an opportunity to offer a hospitable space on campus for the collective trauma that this political election has brought to the world’s attention. The fall-out from the election results calls for attention and healing. We have the opportunity to keep teaching truth to power in hospitable ways, and yet, not be cooperative with oppression.

I am grateful for my wise colleague Cade Bursell’s FB post in the hours prior to the final election results. Reminding us/me to continue the work; to not return the hate that we feel directed at us as women, people of color and diverse sexual and diverse gender identities. Instead let us stay connected, give attention to each other’s fear but do not succumb to projecting it back out as attacks. Stand up for each other. Gather allies, strategize and continue to use your voice and gifts to build allyships across differences. I grieve for and with the young especially as they have been born into this legacy of fear.

I begin this day with a simple commitment to remind people to sing [and create]. To keep walking the path with allies and those not yet allies with love and compassion. From chaos and destruction eventually comes new order. Keep teaching and speaking truth to power in your classes [and lives]. And remember that the formal political realm is one of at least three realms that make up our world. The others being equally important, the natural and the spiritual realms. Take time for recovery. Spend some time outside today and remember the unconditional life-giving forces that sustain us as humans on this planet. 

Please contact me if you would like to set up spaces for dialogue. WGSS will do what it can to support initiatives and gatherings for recovering and generating creative and critical ideas and initiatives for the future. 

 

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Black Lives Matter & Policing Reform(s)

Black Lives Matter (BLM) has become a pivotal, and controversial, social movement. Triggered primarily by repeated incidents of black males being killed (murdered) on the streets of America by police officers (particularly white officers) has left a mark that is now indelible and performed in the Floyd Rebellion (street protests). It has not been pretty and disturbs and terrifies many. And, not all people of color agree with the way things have gone down on both sides--the authorities and the rebellion protestors. But lots of good things are also coming from the rubble, you might say.

So I give hats off to the BLM better aspects of liberation and its allies generally for the 'wake up' call; and especially my focus here in this blog is on the positive push of some BLM folks and other sensitive educators and therapists to help get to root causes of racism traumatization (and/or racialized trauma). I use these latter concepts, from a healing and fearlessness perspective or paradigm for social change and transformation. I am less a fan of the politically and ideologically driven 'playing the race card' and 'fanning the race wars' strategies on all sides of the battles today between opponents. Thus, with this distinction of my work and interest, I would argue that nowadays, it is really questionable if the term "racism" or "race" are actually of any value to healing, just like the term "racists" is to me only a way to continue the worst of racism traumatization [1]. The cycle of domination-fear-conflict-violence is hard to break, but I believe breaking the language and making ourselves more aware of emanacipatory and healing language is a good start to the 'rebellion' that all of us could participate in and not just BLM on the streets. 

In this regard, obviously my work is about moving from a culture of fear to a culture of fearlessness, and that ideally would be what BLM is attempting to do. I am not telling BLM what to do nor speaking as if I know all about them and their work. I certainly don't and I am willing to be informed by them as they see fit. I will listen, and I will open up opportunities for healing on their side and my side--and, all the other options of our juxtapositioning as human beings attempting to figure out how to live together well on this fragile planet. I am concerned that forces of tyranny take many forms, and no group is immune. So, to counter the fear-based tyranny movements of all kinds, on all sides of the conflicts in societies, let's take a look at the notion of racism traumatization as a learning and healing process. I have not delved a lot into this field but I have come across a book my life-partner is using for her own liberation via ancestral healing work and is planning to use in a local non-profit organization in the urban setting of the city we live in. The book is by Resmaa Menakem, a person of color and expert on conflict and violence and healing (individual and collective). The title is "My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathways to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies" (2017). It is radical on many fronts, but what it does not do is 'pit one race against another' nor attempt to show any superiority in any group that is innate or given by God, or any other power. Menakem writes with wisdom and compassion and a lot of street smarts about racialized violence and oppression--and, better yet, about racialized trauma work. I have included a couple pages from the book, particularly on Menakem's advice for reforming policing. I have also written a book with two colleagues on this topic but more general on the relationship of fearism to law and criminology [2]. Menakem's work is very pragmatic and I trust you'll find these couple pages useful for knowledge and as potential to take into action in your communities. 

 

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Notes

1. Another angle of understanding racism traumatization is through a critical analysis of "white supremacism" and an even more interesting angle is through critical analysis of tribalism-ethnocentricism and their worldviews (e.g., in Spiral Dynamics integral theory). No doubt, societies today and in the future will best be served by multiple angles on the problem of "Race" in America or anywhere in the world. For me, I always have looked with great focus on the problem of fearism-t (toxic form) as the core root of terrorism of all kinds and those are the isms that are articulating the other isms--that is, sexism, racism, classism, adultism, and so on. Oppression is fear-based in an ideology of fearism-t. All that said, my owning responsibility for my white caucasion historical situation and current privilege is well taken as something I have to always look at as part of white supremacism agendas--that is, oppression. 

2. Fisher, R. M., Subba, D., & Kumar, B. M. (2018). Fear, law and criminology: Critical issues in applying the philosophy of fearism. Xlibris.

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7927130280?profile=RESIZE_584xI think this is one of my best (sociopolitical and economic) applications of a design for how to re-form our societies, and I also bring in the concept of Fear (i.e., culture of fear) and Fearlessness into the UBI model which has radical implications to transform society not just tweak it (the latter, which is mostly what I see in the vision and thinking of those promoting UBI at the present time). Let's talk about this folks! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ-IhnblIRA

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Fearosis: Ernest Becker's Theory of Health

As a fearologist, also practicing feariatry (and fearanalysis)--all part of the philosophy and psychology of fear(ism) and fearlessness, it behooves me to take seriously any writer's work that probes deeply into the "human condition" (or "human situation" as Aldous Huxley called it [1]) and search for roots to the human problem--human predicament--to human contradictions--and, ultimately to theorize (at least) a way beyond those great problems and limitations, if not pathologies--onward to 'better' thinking about who and what we are and how to achieve as Ernest Becker named it--"Health as an Ideal" (even if, it is impossible to achieve under world and environmental conditions) [2]. For recent discussion of Becker & Education (theorizing) go to: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/educators-engaging-ernest-becker-s-philosophy-terror-and-its-role

I won't go into the finer details and complexities of Ernest Becker's particular offering (following somewhat Kierkegaard, then Otto Rank) of a theory of health (and illhealth--that is, neurosis) but I want to let readers themselves scan the couple pages I pulled from Becker's (1973) Pulitzer Prize winning book on the human condition and the nature and role of fear (of death) as fundamental. Yet, in these couple pages with my years of going back over and marking and commenting many times, you'll have a sense that Becker's theory of neurosis is based on a "natural" philosophical, theological and psychological approach--where he does not want to make "neurosis" (in his definition, at least) 'bad' or 'wrong' per se--but rather he seems to construct neurosis as based in three problems (largely, but not entirely, beyond the will-control of human beings and their society's functions): (1) the problem of character-formation, (2) the problem of reality vs. illusion and (3) historical [environmental] circumstance. In these two pages there is enough richness to follow and dwell with to keep a theorist like me busy for years. What did come out of this reading this morning is a new fear(ology) term for the way Becker (rather uniquely) defines and makes meaning to "neurosis" in the largest sense--which, I so appreciate the way he does this. The new term is fearosis

Although, I would perhaps be inclined to be offering (in initial stages) a theory for fearosis which no one has yet done on the planet (using this word fearosis)--it behooves me to acknowledge the insight of B. Maria Kumar, in fact, who first coined the term and it has been published in Fisher (2020): 

fearosis- (BMK) the pathological state of chronic excess fear at the base of neurosis and/or psychosis (p. 13). [3]

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 You'll see in my notes at various times, I have both embraced the Beckerian theory and critiqued it for some serious flaws, and, yet, I acknowledge I am not at all a Beckerian scholar, so my critiques still need to be studied and critiqued themselves. I welcome others to do so. I am convinced however, that Becker's work offers immense value to our current world dilemmas--our wicked problems and the need for new solutions that are more than band-aids. He is after solutions that come from deep analysis of not only individuals but of culture itself [4]. I have often claimed in my work that how he talks about culture in general, even at times naturalizing it and that that is just the way culture is--it is neurotic--and humans are neurotic and always will be (more or less)--he is talking about the "culture of fear" (dominated by fearism-t) and, yet, I believe he has limitations of seeing this himself--now, perhaps, that limitation on his part is due to him dying so early in his career at 50 and in 1974--as his own historical context of the early 1970s was just the beginning of a slowly increasing exacerbation of the predicaments and crises that humanity was going to have to face in the 1980s- through to 21st century. Becker just didn't have the near 50 years more (as I have had) to see where the culture of fear dynamic was going to grow--and thus, fearosis was going to grow in unbelievable proportions. 

Okay, I'll leave this here for now. 

Notes: 

1. Huxley, A. (1977). The human situation. Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959. Harper & Row. 

2. Becker, E. (1973/97). The denial of death. Free Press/Simon & Schuster, p. 198.

3. Fisher, R. M. (2020). New fear vocabulary. International Journal of Fear Studies, 1(2), 10-14.

4. I think on of Becker's most powerful indictments (analyses) is of culture itself as a buffering defense mechanism to terror, to vulnerability, to hyper-awarenss of this animal-human that can perceive and imagine the future so intimately and (often accurately)--especially, in the psychological sense of imagining one's own final demise (death)--if not one's suffering and those of the one's we love. Becker's cultural thesis presents a case, of a culture (dynamic) that really is essential to contextualize how humans behave. He calls it above in the passage the "cultural project" which is formed by several forces (fearosis included) and which is unique somewhat too due to various cultural and historical settings--yet, he is onto a universal understanding (a kind of socioculturalanalysis) and I appreciate it. I think he's quite accurate. The "cultural project" has many other dimensions and terms used by Becker (and Rank) of which particularly of interest is "Immortality Project" (which I have recently written a technical paper on, soon to be available). I go further in my recent thought to revisioning what culture is as Immortality Transference Formation (ITF)--as a foundational psycho-cultural unit of evolution itself in the Cultural and Spiritual domains of existence. 

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