desh subba (38)

This is the first in what will be a short series of blogs I'll write on the "Brief History of Fearology" [1]. As you may know, I have recently posted on the FM ning Forum a piece about the vision of the Fearology Institute. This is only a vision [2] but may easily become a reality in history in the next decade. I will do everything I can to assist this growth and development and I appreciate any others who will help with this venture.

My task in this series is to articulate a comparison of Fearology with Sexology and Thanatology. The reasons for this comparative historical overview will become apparent as the series unfolds. In the first instance of historical facts that underlies the development of Fearology, I turn to the history of "fearuality" as a major turning point for humanity and it own self-awareness of the importance of the nature and role of fear (a similar importance as brought forth by Desh Subba with coining and elaborating the first text on philosophy of fearism [2] between 1999-2014 and beyond).

In Fisher (1998) I began a glossary where I defined two key terms relevant directly to this series of blogs. The first was: fearuality- "a term created in the early 1990's [by RMF] to give the study of 'fear' a serious forum and name. This term is used analogously with 'sexuality' which burgeoned only in the last few decades [but began to flourish post-WWII, see below] as a legitimate area of [specialized] study--the study of sex and sexual behavior. This term ['fearuality'] gradually evolved into transpersonal phobosology, and eventually in 1997 with phobosology" [see below] [4]

The second term in Fisher (1998) was phobosology- "is the 'study of 'fear' and its interrelationship' with Life. This new discipline was named in 1995 originally as "transpersonal phobosology" and renamed as [simply] "phobosology" in mid-1997 by Robert M. Fisher [RMF]. The roots of this focus of attention on a systematic study of 'fear' (and fearlessness) goes back to as early as 1993 when Fisher was calling this field fearuality that was a way to look at 'fear' and study it just like sexuality, the latter which had become a field to study the phenomenon of 'sex' in the late 20th century [even earlier; see below]. Both fields are intriguing because they involve topics that are almost like 'taboos,' and do not have serious critical discourses (though this has changed in the last 10 years). A taboo is a 'fear' of something and it is thus avoided. So, the taboo against knowing 'sex' (and sexuality) seemed an appropriate analogy to the taboo against knowing 'fear' (and fearuality). 'Fear' actually seems to do everything it can to not know itself." [5]

In Fisher (1998) I continued to mark out bits of philosophy, theory and history around phobosology, so I'll quote it all, including the first philosopher to comment on my notion of phobosology (before it became labeled fearology; see this blog series 2 coming soon on the use of fearology):

"Phobosology is the first discipline to grow out of the spectrum framework of the transpersonal theory of Ken Wilber (see Appendix IV). Phobosology applies the spectrum or integral theory of consciousness [a la Wilber] and attempts a synthesis of all the disciplines and ways of knowing 'fear'--honoring each approach as part of the Whole or Reality. For an overview of the literature on phobosology (see Fisher, 1997c) [6]. These are all publications by Fisher, for as yet no one else has declared themselves a phobosologist ('fear' hunter, 'fear' researcher per se). The field is very new and this encyclopedia [Fisher, 1998] is one of the more important contributions to the field of a systematic study of 'fear'. A key task of phobosology in the next while is to define 'fear.' For we have to know what we are talking about when we use the term, and when we explore the interrelationship of 'fear' with Life.

Currently Fisher is planning a professional international journal for phobosologists [7] and anyone interested in 'fear.' The journal is likely to be called 'Fear' Spectrum: A Critical Journal on the Nature and Role of 'Fear'. This field of inquiry takes an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to knowing 'fear.' The intention is to create a full scale public critical dialogue on 'fear' and its place in our society and future. All evidence seems to indicate that 'fear' is growing rapidly on this planet and we will have to learn much more about it. Ken Wilber, transpersonal [and integral] theorist wrote [after I sent him my brief proposal of this new field of study phobosology]:

Dear Robert, I think your transpersonal study of fear is a terrific idea. You are a meticulous researcher and the world would benefit considerably if you published all of this material that you have been collecting for over a decade--as well as your conceptual summary in terms of the fear spectrum. It all sounds great to me. My only negative criticism is the name, 'transpersonal phobosology'. That's a bit much... phobosology? Sounds like a disease of the nose. Anyway, good luck with this endeavor." - Ken Wilber, personal communication, 1995 [8]."

To end this first blog in this series on a brief history of Fearology, I draw your attention to an excerpt I took from the internet on the brief history of Sexology. Again, because from the beginning of my work in 1989 on fear (and 'fear') and fearlessness, the analogy of studying fear the way humans have studied sex, be it formally or informally, is useful. I like reading texts on sex and sexuality and sexology, then going in to the text and replacing the work sex with fear in all instances. This gives a kind of legitimation to the study of fear so seriously as have others done with sex. It always leaves me feeling more assured that someday, even with resistances (as you can read below in the history of sexology and taboos against knowing) that fearology will someday emerge as a distinct field of scholarship, professional practice and basic education for all. It must be added, of course, that thanatology (the study of death and human relationship to it) is also a similar analogy and taboo of sorts, which I will write about in another of this series of blogs.

So as you read the below, on sexology, try replacing fearology, and on sex, replacing fear, just to get a feel for how this analogy may be very useful in guiding future understandings and research on fearology. What is clear is that there is a politics of knowledge/power pervasive in any society and when it comes to taboo topics (e.g., sex, death, fear) there is going to be resistance to the development of awareness, education and knowledge that promotes better sex, death and fear management. It is of course to me an irony this is the case, because I also see that humanity (in the long run) also wants to advance its knowledge and skills in managing these topics.

[below excerpt from:]:

"A Brief History Of Sexology

Clinical sexology has its roots in mid-19th Century England and Germany. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), an English medical doctor, surgeon and sexologist, was one of the first researchers to challenge the sexual repression of the Victorian Age (generally considered to span the time of Queen Victoria's reign, 1819-1901) along with its taboo against masturbation (now considered by sex health experts to be a normal sexual behaviour, essential for healthy sexual development).

In 1919, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a German physician and clinical sexologist, founded the first Institute for Sexology in Berlin (Zentrum fur Sexualwissenschaft). The Institute accumulated a vast body of research on human sexual development as well as the treatment of sexual concerns and dysfunctions. It was the first such Institute to offer a clinic for the specific purpose of treating sexual problems.

On May 6, 1933, under orders from the Nazi High Command, Brownshirts broke into the Institute and carried away its vast collection of books, research material and clinical files to be destroyed at the infamous May 10, 1933 book burning on Berlin's Opera Square. The Institute was immediately closed. In passing, it must be stated that the later institutes, clinics and research of the great 20th century sexologists, Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy, and Masters and Johnsonhad their forerunner in Hirschfeld's Institute.

After World War II, there was a renaissance of sexology in both America and Europe. In 1948, Alfred Kinsey and his associates founded the Kinsey Institutefor sexual research at the University of Indiana. In 1967 and in 1970, medical researchers and sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson published their vast, groundbreaking research in two separate volumes entitled Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy. They also founded a teaching Institute and treatment clinic. In 1983, Humbolt-Univeritat zu Berlin opened the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology to the public.

The science of sexology is now a well established and widely taught discipline in many of the world's leading universities. If you are interested in discovering just how widespread sexological research is, please visit the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology Website. You will find an exhaustive resource for learning about sexology's history and scientific research, and more links to the growing worldwide list of universities and institutes studying clinical sexology."

Now, I'll include the Wikipedia brief summary of Sexology:

Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behaviors and functions.[1] The term sexology does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sexuality, such as political science or social criticism.[2][3]

Sexologists apply tools from several academic fields, such as biology, medicine, psychology, epidemiology, sociology, and criminology. Topics of study include sexual development (puberty), sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual relationships, sexual activities, paraphilias, atypical sexual interests. It also includes the study of sexuality across the lifespan, including child sexuality, puberty, adolescent sexuality, and sexuality among the elderly. Sexology also spans sexuality among the mentally and/or physically disabled. The sexological study of sexual dysfunctions and disorders, including erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, and pedophilia, are also mainstays.  [extract from]

In the next series blog I will write a critique of these notions of sexology, of which I believe fearology can improve upon in its early conceptualizations in order not to fall into a [scientific and clinical] reductionism I interpret above in this discourse on sexology. Okay, until next time...


1. An extensive history of fearology (before it was named this) has yet to be written but is very important to document. Some aspects of this history are available in my book (Fisher, 2010) where I arc out a transdisciiplinary and transcultural historical and evolutionary view of humans and their attempts to understand and manage fear. See Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. See also Subba (2014) for some historical overview of this as well [in end note 2.]

2. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris. See also Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

3. Historically, and arguably, one could say that the world's first fearology institute, before I used that naming structure with fearology as primary, was the 1991 In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute I founded in Calgary, AB, Canada. The ISOF Research Institute still exists and facilitates research scholarship, writing, teaching on all issues related to fear and fearlessness in the broadest and deepest sense--of which, fearology per se is only part of.

4. Fisher, R. M. (1998). 'Fear' encyclopedia. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute, p. 84.

5. Ibid., p. 75.

6. Fisher, R. M. (1997). Phobosology: A basic introduction to written materials. Unpubl. paper.

7. The latest version of such a journal is still alive in vision. See

8. Fisher (1998), p. 75.

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My book (above) was published in 2010 by University Press of America, an imprint at the time of Rowman & Littlefield. Although this imprint press was a vanity press where I had to pay retail price for the first 100 copies, I felt it was worth compiling 25 years of my research on fear and fearlessness in one volume. The below blog information gives you an update of what this book is about, and what has happened to it since then.

First, here is what the back cover of the book says: The World's Fearlessness Teachings addresses the human fear problem in a truly unique and insightful way, summarizing the teachings on fearlessness from around the world and throughout history. The author then utilizes critical integral theory (a la Wilber) as an approach to categorize the developmental and evolutionary spectrum of fear management systems known thus far. The author has spent twenty years researching the timely topic of fear and how to best manage and transform it. From this experience, he offers an educational healing vision to address the challenges of a dangerous 21st century. Fear's empire has taken rule. It is time to resist it using the best intelligence from both sacred and secular traditions, as well as the transformational theories humanity has to offer. Fisher maps out ten fear management systems that will benefit future-positive leaders everywhere.

   From the Amazon books website:

I found [Fisher's] dilineation of the historical and theoretical contexts of "teaching fearlessness" affirming. They provide a strong staging area for discussion on the role of fear and emotional intelligence in transformational learning. (Mary O'Hara, Ph.D., sociologist, activist, and teacher)

This book is an important one. I'll not teach a curriculum theory class without it in the future. (Clifford Mayes Ph.D, Psy.D, Retired Professor of Educational Psychology, BYU and author)

   About the Author

R. Michael Fisher is a self-proclaimed postmodern fearologist with graduate degrees in rehabilitation studies, adult education and curriculum philosophy and design. He currently researches, writes, and consults as a private human development consultant.

The original retail price was $49.00 US. After 7 year, the price has gone up to $74.75 - up to 88.61 US for soft cover, which is a substantial increase of which I have no idea why that is the case, but I guess it tells us that the book is perceived on the market place as worth increasing value with time, like a good piece of art. And, I am glad about that. However, I wish it was more affordable to more people. The Kindle e-book Canadian version costs only $ 54.99.

To my delight, however, the book is available free to browse many of its pages at

As well, copies are available from me at the original $49.00 US (plus shipping)--unfortunately, it is too costly to send copies by mail overseas outside of the US or Canada. email me: r.michaelfisher52 [at] However, free copies are available to read from college, university and public libraries around the world. Currently, a search of my book on Worldcat website shows that 175 libraries (mostly universities) are available in Ecuador, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Australia, S. Africa, Europe, etc. As well as in most states in the USA and provinces in Canada. It is great to see that international academic libraries found the book attractive to purchase. Unfortunately, this is not the case for books on Philosophy of Fearism by Desh (2014) or by both of us as co-authors (2016). This latter problem is due to Desh and I publishing outside of good established publishing houses, like Rowman & Littlefield because the latter know how to distribute flyers to the buyers.

Unfortunately, no scholar has written a book review of The World's Fearlessness Teachings and likely it is too late for that to happen any more. However, 4 people (all I know personally) have written book reviews on Here they are:

This book is the most comprehensive compilation of information, experience and critique of fear and fearlessness I have ever seen. For anyone who works with people, this book is integral. For anyone who has struggled with fear and courage, this book is very useful. For anyone curious about personal growth, human potential, the human condition, this book will become a reference you will return to over and over again. I'm about to read it again!  -Jan Sheppard, (clinical counselor) 2015

Fisher tackles a subject that ought to be talked about --and practiced -- more. When someone focuses on a specific topic in such depth, and over such a long period of time, the product is usually worthwhile, and this is no exception. If you want to learn about how you can move from simplistic ideas about managing anxiety, towards a comprehensive approach to becoming fearless, then read this book!   -Durwin Foster (clinical counselor) 2015

Dr. R. Michal Fisher is an artist, writer, counselor, human development consultant and public intellectual. He is a co-founder and director of the "In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute" since 1989. He is a Canadian citizen. He is one of the leading Fearist writers of world. He has been writing on fearlessness and fear management/fear education since 1989.

His book "The World's Fearlessness Teaching, A critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for The 21st Century" is master piece book for fear management. It was published by Universal Press of America in 2010. I have never seen such a deep book on fear. There are many technical books of fear. This is one of the best. It will serve in the future guidance as a core textbook on fearlessness and what he calls “fear education.”

There is not only fearlessness as the focus topic but there are some detailed explanations of fear education and fear management. He introduces child fear as well. Since 1989, he is persistently devoting himself to introduce this theory and philosophy of fearlessness. He offers important discussion on “culture of fear,” and a unique notion of the ‘Fear’ Matrix is important to the framework for his book.

His primary focus is on an improved fear-free education and life. But nobody can obtain a fear-free environment when surrounded by a fearful environment. Which unfortunately is so common today. To have a good quality life and education our fear must now need to be properly managed. He is one of the profound thinkers of fear and his offers graphic and artistic presentation of his models. He has tried his best to provide proof of fear in its complexity in this world. After reading his book, I felt, he has taken fear as overly negative at times, but that is because he uses a culturally-modified understanding of ‘fear.’

He has published another book "Philosophy of Fearism- a First East-West Dialogue" with Desh Subba in 2016. During my study of Philosophy of Fearism, I didn't have any idea of fear management and fear education and management systems. It is missing in my research. His scholarly theories can be quite difficult to understand for general and literary readers, yet, there is always something to learn. This is the best book for fear education and fear management, and would serve as a good textbook for upper levels university students and other serious readers. - Desh Subba (fearist) 2017

Chorlton [Terry Biddington]

20 May 2012

Format: Paperback | Verified Purchase


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Here is the 4th Technical Paper in the series of five articles on ecocriticism: "Fearanalysis and Ecocriticism in the Light of Terrorcriticism" (Technical Paper No. 69). See Abstract below. 

R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 69


Abstract – After a brief review of the author’s conceptualization and praxis of fearanalysis (different but analogous to psychoanalysis), he applies this method to ecocriticism (especially, Estok’s “Ecophobia Hypothesis”) in the “Age of Terror.” A study of books using “Age of Terror” in their title and other discourses on “terror” (especially, but not only post-9/11), convinced the author that there was need for terrorcriticism a new branch of literary criticism contextualized within ecocriticism (but not restricted to it), that could offer useful critical analysis of the “Age of Terror” discourses and representations of terror and the human-planetary future. Fearanalysis as previously configured is being challenged to expand to a greater inclusivity of excess-extremes for the 21st century (e.g., an “Age of Terror”), of which terror conceptualization and its problematics provides a most useful platform to the author’s agenda of promoting the global Fearlessness Movement for manifesting a “Fearless Age.”


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This Technical Paper No. 68, "Eco-Philosophy of Fearism and Ecocriticism: In an Age of Terror" is the 3rd in a series of five Technical Papers on ecocriticsm and how it interrelates to my work on fear and fearlessness. In this paper the focus is on how ecocriticism, ecophobia, and eco-issues are relevant to Desh Subba's philosophy of fearism. I propose an Eco-Fear Problem concept throughout this series of papers and end up herein sketching out the beginning of a new branch I am calling "Eco-Philosophy of Fearism." See Abstract below: 

R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 68

 Abstract – This is the 3rd technical paper in a five part series on “ecocriticism” as it relates to the author’s work on fear and fearlessness. Technical Paper No. 68 addresses both his focused engagement with Desh Subba’s philosophy of fearism in the last three years, and with his attempting to link Subba’s notion of “fearism” and the “fearist perspective” (lens) with ecocriticism (especially, Estok’s view). The synthesis is one that has led the author to propose herein a very basic description and outline of what is a new branch of thought called Eco-Philosophy of fearism. 

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This rather technical blog is a first introductory sorting through my synthetical and fresh thoughts, though with a long history, of why I have never been happy with the locating of "fear" as (only) an emotion or feeling as typically found in our thinking (norms). The theories of affects, feelings, and emotions are many and diverse, yet for me they virtually all fall into the same, often unconscious biased framework, paradigm, or what can also be called a (Dominant) worldview. There are a few radical sources of fresh and alternative thinking/theorizing that have led me today to create a new category of awemotion to work along-side, if not dismantle, the hegemonic control of Fear and its meanings and definitions. I no longer think it very productive to liberation to continue to see fear as emotional; at least not without a serious correction to that referential frame of meaning and shaping of experience that goes with it typical of Psychology. People of all stripes, for the most part, cannot seem to think of Fear beyond it being imagined and classified within this Emotional Paradigm. I'll give an introduction to the difference between emotion and awemotion and offer a theoretical rationale for awemotion as the best way to understand Fear beyond the Emotional Paradigm, the latter, which is arguably buried in oppressive premises of a phallocentric and non-Indigenous understanding. Therein, I surmount the scaffolding (only briefly) here for a new theory of Fear which will better help us solve the Fear Problem. My gratitude here is to three contemporary critical thinkers, theorists, who have assisted my synthesis: Four Arrows, Bracha L. Ettinger and Desh Subba. 

Brief Introduction

This morning I awoke with one of the synthetical moments of the hypnopompic trance-state of consciousness (between waking and sleep). This has always been a most creative time, when my brain/mind system has had a good night of dreaming and rest, and re-integration of a lot of the complexities and inputs during the day prior, and during my entire life-time. The synthetical moment is like a bursting of a "damn" or "knot" in my thinking and processing of problems to solve.

The biggest problem to solve since 1989 [1] is how to convince humans to experience, perceive, respond and think about Fear (with capital) in an entirely different way than the norm. Four Arrows (aka Dr. Don Jacobs at the Leadership Studies Program, Fielding Graduate University) and myself have had an intense six years specifically talking about how to re-frame Fear from a trance-based learning (TBL) and Indigenous perspective. We are working on a book together entitled Fearless Engagement (to be published in 2018, Peter Lang publishing). He began using a capitalization of the term to set it apart from fear (with no capital, which is the norm) as defined and made meaning by what he called the Dominant worldview (contra the Indigenous worldview) [2]. I really like his framing of the Fear Problem (my term) within this Worldview Wars (see also Culture Wars, Paradigm Wars below). If "wars" is off-putting and sounds militarized, I assure you that is not how I see the battle/resistance going on for domination, re: the problem of hegemony of knowledge/power in the domain of Fear Studies. Yet, you can turn the conflict and use your own word(s) of which many in the recent Indigenous resistance movements are calling themselves "Water Protectors" while various actors, non-Indigenous and/or Indigenous backgrounds, call themselves "Water Warriors." In this sense, Four Arrows has preferred of late to call himself an Indigenous (Nature and Culture) protector rather than warrior. I label him and his work within the Sacred Warrior traditions from around the world, across cultures and through time. These are word(s) for you to consider but further delineation here would be a distraction.

Multiple Perspectives/Worldviews: Radicalizing the Theory of Emotion(s): Fear

This morning I wish to briefly introduce a parallel notion to Four Arrows' work and his naming of Fear [3], which intersects with his conceptualization and radicalization of Fear. I am referring to two other sources that, more or less, complement Four Arrows' work and my own on this subject. Also, notice that the focus of this blog is not to go into the practical applications of a radical theory of Fear but to show the initial revision required in the dominant theory of fear as we normally have been taught--and, taught to absorb rather than question critically. The Biomedical scientific model (or paradigm) is part of the Dominant (i.e., non-Indigenous) worldview--and is thus, the worldview of the "colonizer" of the Earth and Natural Systems and the destroyer of much of what had been Indigenous Traditional Knowledge.

The biomedical perspective, now Psychiatry and Psychology serving as its agents, continues to categorize "fear" as an emotion--and thus, always emotional. This has been heavily reinforced by technologies (e.g., MRI brain scan research into the neurobiology of fear). It has told us that that is the way to understand fear. It has told us we ought to be emotional and manage all the emotions (i.e., fear being only one, not special in any way, from the list of emotions). Note, I am not questioning that we may at times be "emotional" that is not the issue here, if you read on, the context for how emotionality is constructed and regulated by "Authority" is the issue in question. The theory of fear (Fear) is one way to get at this critique.

I began fearology long ago as a way to displace this unquestioned assumption of the Biomedical scientific model. When I found Desh Subba's work on a philosophy of fearism (he's from Nepal, now living in Hong Kong) writing about fear in such a new way, as he has since 1999, it floored me that he was doing so without having known about my work. We had so many overlapping ideas and thus wrote a book together in 2016 [4]. I'll never forget the awe I had when reading Subba's primary text on philosophy of fearism (2014) [5], where he offered, in chapter one, some 21 "Definitions" of fear. I had never seen such a diverse array of ways to understand fear. And I had been researching the topic for over a quarter century at that point. And what was so rare was that he didn't start off with the standard Biomedical definition (i.e., fear- is a feeling or emotion). Clear to me, he was articulating an understanding of fear that was complex, holistic, transdisciplinary and obviously non-Western. He was giving an Eastern worldview perspective to the topic that was completely refreshing. Turns out Subba has a very broad background as a journalist, philosopher, and best known for his many books of poetry and fiction. He is an artist in the largest sense. I resonated, and since have helped in re-translating some of his English translated works (originally written in Nepalese), because it is very difficult to read some of his work even with the English translations he has to date. I know it is very costly to get good translations and he is doing the best he can with very limited resources as he lives a very working class life in Hong Kong. Readers of the philosophy of fearism are growing, and I am very happy to be part of Subba's leadership in this area. However, this blogpost is not about his work either.

The third theorist I wish to engage very briefly who helped me come up with the specific term awemotion (pronounced ah-motion) [6], is the Israeli (living in France) artist, psychoanalyst, activist and matrixial theorist Bracha L. Ettinger. This woman has amazed me with her matrixial theory ever since Barbara Bickel (my partner) and I discovered her work in 2009-10. Barbara and I continue to study her largely feminist/feminine theory that offers an important re-correction to phallocentric theory (i.e., overly masculinized perspectives, psychologies, and those that typically accompany a pathological patriarchy) [7].

Ettinger's notion of "feminine" is very unique and complex in her matrixial theory (which she coined over 20 years ago). I will only tell you that it is non-gendered as a concept and proto-subjective (or transubjective). Much of her matrixial theorizing is based on her phenomenological investigations into her artworking processes as an artist, and her work in the psychoanalytical relationship, her motherhood, as well as the traumatic era of a post-Holocaust survivor connectivity as "Jewish" in general.

Barbara and I have really fallen in love with matrixial theory as we are both artist and it speaks to us on that aesthetic and poetic level, but also on the psychospiritual level; yet, her framework is all-encompassing (cosmic), based on the "womb" (not just physically speaking) and the "maternal" and the child-mother bonding (again, not only physical but on the psychical and spiritual dimensions of experiencing--and, one doesn't have to be only a biological mother to engage matrixial theory and the reality it attempts to "touch" that is so ignored in the phallocentric Dominant and Biomedical worldviews). Her work is not metaphysics, yet it crafts what feels like an entirely new feminine theology (worldview). She isn't attacking all of the masculinist worldivew but says it is incomplete and crippled because it has for a long time in human history ignored and or deleted the feminine--that is, the matrixial reality. Thus, we all have suffered under this regime of political power/knowledge exclusion--and led to us generally "fearing the feminine." Thus, she also has feminist objectives but matrixial feminism is interrelated with but very different than all other kinds of feminisms.

Does Ettinger have a unique Fear theory? Not overtly. Her work is therefore different from Four Arrows and Subba that way. Yet, I find lots of overlaps in the three theorists, of which I will not be going into here in this blogpost as it would take a long essay to ferret those similarities and differences out. Yet, her Fear theory exists when I study it and write about it and it is wonderfully liberating because it does not encast and mold the definition and meaning of fear (Fear) as only "emotional"--rather, Ettinger is specific to include that emotionality of Fear in matrixial theory but by no means does she rely on the phallocentric Biomedical perspective. She doesn't actually talk about emotions much at all. Her emphasis is on a much more contemporary philosophical and theoretical body of work, and varied schools of thought, that can best be called the "affective" schools. She always talks about affect--which includes, but transcends the limited meanings of emotion. Again, all that is too complex to go into here. 

Ettinger's Matrixial Relational Ecology

Ettinger's matrixial-based affect-focus to understand the dynamics of the human experience is proto-emotional, proto-aesthetic, and proto-ethical. Her primary affects are "awe and com-passion" as the basic unit-bond of the maternal subjective formation of the baby and mother (or, more generally, what she calls the non-I and I relational dynamic; which I would call the matrixial relational ecology). It is upon her notion of "awe" in particular that I am now considering seriously as a very unique way to add as a prefix (that is the matrixial feminine side) to emotion--thus, we get the synthesis of awemotion. Think of this as a relational ecological understanding of our primal foundational onto-epistemological way of being in the world--that is, prior to post-traumatization (i.e., woundedness, and fear-conditioning) [8].

Like Four Arrows Indigenous worldivew, or Subba's Eastern worldivew, Ettinger's Matrixial worldview do not privilege the understanding of Fear as emotional but rather as relational and better situated in the concepts of alertness, arousal and ultimately awe (and com-passion [9]). I recall Fr. Matthew Fox once preaching about how the term "fear of God" in the Bible in the old Hebrew actually means "awe of God." Anyways, Ettinger, I believe would argue, that these relationally (more truly matrixial feminine) terms offer a "natural" and healthy responsivity to all relations (i.e., self/Other) and thus ground the human experience ontologically in love and trust (again, her definitions of these terms are complicated and corrections to the phallocentric views). "Fear of the Other" (or strange) is not where human subjectification and identity-formation begin and/or mature from--at least, not in matrixial theory. 

The entire understanding of the emotional and empathy with it, as we've known, are being critically re-framed by Ettinger into awe and com-passion as the base rather than anxiety (i.e., fear) that undergird emotionality and empathy as we know them as norm conceptions and practices. The Western (Dominant) worldview has given us a 'picture' of reality and human experience as based primarily on anxiety (e.g., existentialism, and developmental object relations, early psychoanalysis, Judeo-Christianity, etc.). The anxiety or fear-based perspective to basic human subjectivity skews our orientation to the world (to Nature, to God, to Spirit) via what Ettinger would call "reactive" rather than "responsive"--and, most importantly, that makes the orientation flooded with an ongoing sense of the world (and our own bodies, and God) as "threat" and "traumatic" signalling. It leaves us with a bereft (if not pathological) and very skewed psychology (and Psychology Paradigm). It isn't a healing paradigm that's for sure. It is a coping paradigm. This is violent and killing us.

A new paradigm is available, of which Ettinger is one of the major theorist I draw upon for such a reconstruction. To be sure, the entire body of research and writing and education based on "emotion" (and the Emotional Paradigm) is being challenged--and, that goes the same for the Emotional Intelligence theory, models and pedagogy! Okay, I'll leave this here, understandably incomplete... I want to think a lot more about Ettinger's complex "proto-emotion" (i.e., proto-affects) of "awe and com-passion" as foundational to a new way of understanding Fear. I will say, rarely does she talk about "fear" directly, though when she has, I immediately resonate with a deep and enduring truth in her work, and it sounds like she is writing and thinking from a Fearlessness perspective. I love it. Yet, it will take awhile to unwind her thought and theory and show how matrixial theory is non-fear-based (because, for many reasons, at least, it is non-phallocentric based). At least, this is the critical theory of matrixial theory I am attracted to pursue, so as to produce a better critical theory and pedagogy for the world and our ways of doing fear management/education.

Until next time ... [feel free to email me and lets chat about any of this: r.michaelfisher52 [at]]


1. In late 1989, while living in Calgary, AB (my hometown), I had a transformative vision with a female partner, Catherine Sannuto, at the time, that led to my naming and leading the In Search of Fearlessness Project (a not-for-profit organization). I am grateful to my next partner, Barbara Bickel, who came into this project and has helped support my work since. I established the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute in 1991 and remains the structure in which I publish my results (e.g., Technical Papers Series).

2. Probably the best up-dated summary of Four Arrows "point of departure theory" that articulates the conflict (Culture Wars, Paradigm Wars, Worldview Wars) between Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives is his book: Point of Departure: Returning to a More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. I have written a book review on Amazon books, which will give you my early perception of the value of this approach he has taken, albeit, I am also critical and working to revise his views somewhat, yet keep their core intentions and wisdom in place.

3. Although Four Arrows had originally began using Fear (with the capital) in his doctoral research and his first major theoretical book on the topic (1998), he has not always been consistent in doing so and thus many of his readers do not often gather in the implication of how his view of Fear (based on many perspectives) is so unique from the norm view of fear (without the capital). See Jacobs, D. T. (1998). Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

4. See Fisher, R.M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

5. See Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of Fearism: Life is Conducted, Directed and Controlled by the Fear. Australia: Xlibris.

6. The profound work of Erin Manning (also Brian Massumi) is also part of articulating my formation this new term awemotion; and also, the theory of Re-evaluation Co-Counseling (a la the late Harvey Jackins) has been influential, as a few others... however, I won't be going into their work here.

7. You can read and/or listen to Ettinger's work for yourself (e.g., Youtube) although, I caution that her work can be hard to grasp because it uses a complex scaffolding of theory and terms that take quite awhile to learn (not unlike psychoanalysis in general). For a much easier "in" to her work I suggest Fisher, R.M., and Bickel, B. (2015). Aesthetic Wit(h)nessing Within a Matrixial Imaginary. Canadian Review of Art Education, 42(1), 76-93.

8. This is complicated and not some "pure" or Ideal fantasy or potential phantasy that is disconnected from reality. Ettinger, like myself, show that the traumatic threads of historical woundness (unhealed) are continually circulating as traces, even in the unborn.

9. "Com-passion" is very different than an adult (or phallocentric) view of compassion. This has to be kept in mind if you want to understand the proto-ethical dimension of Ettinger's matrixial theory. This has a lot to do with the aesthetic dimension of experience of subjects and objects and the entire process of subjectification as Ettinger articulates it. For a simple description of this see Fisher and Bickel (2015) in relation to corrective matrixial theory of empathy. Psychology, at least in the West and modernity, has a very biased phallocentric view of empathy and Ettinger's work offers a great critique--and, likewise, I would add so does Four Arrows and Subba's work.

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Over a year and half ago I sent a copy of these notes on working philosophical premises to Desh Subba, although he has not responded, I think they are still worth more inquiry, whomever is interested. I'm sure if I thought more about these today, I'd add more new ones, but this is lots for starters. As a serious scholar and proponent of the philosophy of fearism since late 2014, I wish to see more philosophy and less rhetoric, opinions, and such... as this philosophy is going to need a good deal of rigorous thought before it will be accepted seriously by an real philosophers or graduate courses today in higher education, and in the future. The aim I have is to make philosophy of fearism justifiable through testing it empirically, as well as arguing it rationally. The high gold standard in this I have witnessed over the years in watching Ernest Becker's existential philosophy be eventually translated into social psychology (i.e., terror management theory) and 'proven' that his philosophy has some valid truths that are very important to our world today.

PHILOSOPHY OF FEARISM: 9 Premises (version 1.0)

R. Michael Fisher, Aug. 18, 2015

[Note: none of these premises are fixed in stone; I chose them to build common ground in each of our diverse understandings of fearism and its philosophy; they are presented here only as working ideas to be changed and grown as we gain input from various sources/research, experience and good critiques.]

A philosophy of fearism has the basic agenda of raising conscious awareness of the nature and role of fear in our lives and helping us to understand it better, in order to improve the quality (happiness) in our lives along a path to potential “fearless” existence. To do so, claims are made, often with premises that are not yet fully examined—this is the underlying purpose of this philosophical exercise. Volumes could be written on any one or a few of the premises, and sub-sections, as well as the interconnectivity of all of them together. Other premises and sub-sections also exist and can be added, but this is at least a start of examining a core of them more closely.


Premise 1Fear actually is the predominant motivator of the foundational aspects of human existence/behavior.

              1a. Should we not therefore build a philosophy (e.g., fearism[1]) around the predominant (if not, the greatest) motivator?

                         1a (i). What if Love is the predominant motivator? How do we know?

                                    What implications do the Love vs. Fear dynamics portend?

              1b. Humans are always, more or less, for better or worse, managing fear(s)

              1c. If 1, 1a, 1b are true, then, what kind of fear management/education (and socialization and governance) is best suited to these truths?


Premise 2Humanity, in general, is experiencing a precipice of extreme fear at this time in history, of which it is thought to be a most serious crisis that cannot be put off analysis without grave danger to our species and the planet’s ecosystems.

              2a. What reliable and diverse (cross-disciplinary) sources can we accrue in order to reasonably invoke the crisis of the current Fear Problem, without panic?

Premise 3The current state of knowledge about fear is inadequate to the demands of the Fear Problem, and this has caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering


             3a.  Philosophy of fearism is the best way to remedy this crisis and better than alternative philosophies, myths, religions and other ways of trying to manage

                    the Fear Problem—in that sense, how can we justify a “dephilosophy” agenda within the current philosophy of fearism critique?

              3b.  Contradictions in our society’s general knowledge of fear need to be revealed and arguments (based on the philosophy of fearism) made that

                    respond to them and “correct” them if possible  

              3c. Where is the philosophy of fearism most weak, philosophically? and/or scientifically?

              3d. How can a philosophy of fearism self-reflexively “correct” itself in order to avoid becoming an ideology (embedded in ideologism)?


Premise 4A philosophy of fearism is unique (and important) because it recognizes the Fear Problem not merely as an individual psychological problem, but as

 central to evolution itself and developmental conceptualizations of human nature, the human condition and human potential.


            4a. As with some other perspectives, a philosophy of fearism accepts there is no one and only right definition or meaning of fear, but it is multiple and will

                 likely always be such.

             4b. What is a substantive ontology of fear that is useful to, and consistent with the defining and making meaning of fear within a philosophy of fearism agenda?

             4c. What is a rigorous epistemology of fear consistent with the philosophy of fearism agenda?

             4d. What is a rigorous axiology of fear consistent with the philosophy of fearism agenda?

                         4d(i).  How do we know whether fear is positive or negative in value?

             4e. the dialectical nature of fear and fearlessness ought to be understood within the evolution of the global concept of a “spirit of fearlessness” and the world’s

                  Fearlessness Movement(s)[2]


 Premise 5The critical determining unit (expression) of “fear-based” brings forth the ethical axis upon which the philosophy of fearism rests in terms of usefulness

for discernment of quality, if not liberation.

               5a. Is there a way to accurately discern and evaluate “fear-based” feeling, thinking, acting? If so, how? What practical applications as well?


Premise 6Fear evolves (develops) “naturally” towards Fearless (i.e., a telos), at the level of individuals, groups, and entire eras of history


             6a. We are currently (globally) in a peak of an “Extreme Fear Age”

             6b. Is a philosophy of fearism a ‘natural’ response to the Extreme Fear Age?

             6c. Is there a precedent for what we are going through in history, that may be useful to us as a global community?

                       6d. Is the East or West more matured (evolved) generally, to best assist us through this "Extreme Fear Age" (a la Subba)? Why?

             6e. Are the less developed nations less fear-full than the developed nations? And Why? And, what implications does this have for world developmental theories                  and practices?


Premise 7: The evolution of consciousness, like fear, is moving toward a "Fearless Age" and Society (a la Subba)—not that it will occur all at the same time in the same  

places but it is at least probably, expectable, but not totally inevitable.


            7a. On what substantive, and diverse grounds, can such a positive claim of telos be defended by a philosophy of fearism?

            7b. And on those same grounds, what arguments can be utilized to counteract the predominant discourses that suggest no such movement or telos exists?


Premise 8: The greatest fear is humanly created, in the mind, and thus, the greatest corrective to fear is humanly created, in the mind.


            8a. On what substantive, and diverse grounds, can such a claim be made?

            8b. And on those same grounds, what alternative arguments could also be put forward that are different but complementary to a philosophy of fearism?

            8c. What alternative arguments would go against (and/or modify) Premise 8?


Premise 9: The philosophy of fearism (as currently articulated) is adequate to being called a legitimate, new, and essential philosophy to the betterment of

humankind and the earth ecosystems.

             9a. What arguments are for this and what arguments are against accepting this

[1] Through out these premises, as building a defense for this philosophy, I am using Desh Subba’s (2014) version of a philosophy of fearism (sometimes, he refers to as a theory of fearism)—this, is an exercise intended to ferret out the thinking and support for claims he has made, of which I mostly agree but realize they need at times to be filled-out in creating a better convincing defense. My own theory of fearism-t is not included here.

[2] This is particularly (if not uniquely) important to Fisher’s philosophy of fearism conception based on the groundwork of his research on a philosophy of fearlessness.

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Here is the book review I just posted on amazon books:

"Huge Circle of Fear": How Shadow Walks With Us For Liberation By R. Michael Fisher on December 5, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition
I have known this author, founder of philosophy of fearism, and his work for two years. This novel, his first in English translation from Nepalese, is much better than other things in English translation that he has written. As a short novelette it works with an intensity of both simplicity and profoundness. I like the teaching about fear and the finding of the way to fearless. How the protagonist moves across landscapes and in and through forest primal cultures to the town's and villages is unexpected and filled with surprises. Many kinds of teachers appear, and there is a sense the protagonist, on 'the edge' of sanity, and insanity, throughout, is like a part of you. At least I felt that.

It is a book about 'shadow' in an interesting way. It resonates with Carl Jung's version but there is something more Eastern and mysterious and primal that by the end of the book, I was still asking many questions about what is this shadow that operates in the book. One scholar the protagonist meets says, "The shadow can be ignored considering it to be just a mental disorder. But no matter, to what extent you ignore it, it tends to play inside your body" (p. 50).

The particular shadow that weaves in and out of the narrative of this book, more or less turns out to be the signifier, if not the driver, if not the effect of what the protagonist realizes, like a moment of enlighenment, a "huge circle of fear"... and, as the story unfolds, the experience of "fearless" is unveiled for us to both admire and yet query. Is this a journey we would ever take? The risks are always there, for the reward, if one is listening deeply, primally with a whole other part of our being that we usually don't listen with in the everyday world. Sure, readers will taste the shamanic, magical, and presence of spirit in this soul's journey.

Knowing the author's major philosophical project, the philosophy of fearism, I think this book would be a good text for the teaching of ideas behind what he and I call "feariatry" --a new sub-discipline of psychiatry that focuses on the "huge circle of fear" and the 'shadow' related to it --and, how they impact our mental health all the time.
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Curriculum Outline for "Fearless"

Figure 1  Basic Curriculum Design (Map) for a Philosophy of Fearism

[Note: I have attached a curiculum%20fearlessness.mp3 sound file of myself reading this blog]

The above Figure 1 is my first attempt to take a piece of philosophy of fearism text (e.g., Desh Subba's recent novel; see Photo as well) and put it into a practical curriculum application that could be used by teachers, or anyone else wanting to actualize the philosophy of fearism teachings and ways of thinking  (i.e., in regard, to a new way to enact fear management/education for the 21st century). 

Mostly Desh Subba and I have been articulating the philosophy and theory behind a philosophy of fearism (also, philosophy of fearlessness, in my earlier work). More and more people are asking us how to "apply" it to usefulness in diverse settings with real people and groups, organizations or even nations. We are excited by that challenge, and it will slowly unfold. Others like Rana Kafle in Nepal and N.E. India are likely already doing this, however, that applied work has not been translated in to English. I personally am not sure what their applied education in the field has been for the past several years as they teach aspects of a philosophy of fearism. 

So, the skeleton outline (a working draft in progress) in Figure 1 gives a critical integral approach to the curriculum design for philosophy of fearism. I will actually spend time trying to apply this outline to Desh's new novel per se. Then, that ought to be interesting and lead to writing something like a "curriculum guide" to The Tribesman's Journey to Fearless. 

Now, I'll give you the basic orienting reference points you'll need to know to be able to understand how this design/map (Figure 1) works. Also, anyone can apply this as well, not just me or Desh. First, notice the quadrant design template I use, with four "directions" on the map, by which the four double-arrows are pointing toward INDIVIDUAL and COMMUNAL on the vertical axis, and toward SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE on the horizontal axis. This comes fundamentally from the meta-mapping of knowledge work of the integral philosopher Ken Wilber (see AQAL Matrix), who was searching for a simple template in which to organize (map) all knowledge so as to be attentive to its variation spectrum of how knowledge is gathered and classified by these four quadrants (at least, that begins a holistic-integral approach to knowledge). The integral theory behind the quadrants suggests that information and/or knowledge and knowing ought to be arrived at from all four quadrants (if ideally possible) before we can make strong claims about the "truth" of anything. Our methodologies, and epistemologies, likewise ought to come from all four quadrants, to make sure we have a holistic diversity of ways of knowing. There are many complications about this theory and use of quadrant analysis that I won't go into here, unless you ask me about more. This will serve the purpose for then arranging the 10 Components of the Curriculum that fit into the quadrants. One would now have to use these 10 Components as "themes" on which to focus on when reading Desh's novel, for example. Then, there are the META-SKILLS and SKILLS Elements which generally are of interest in a practical curriculum of any kind. So, a combination of looking for the 10 Components and the 2 Elements will produce a cross-hybridization of interesting lens to bring to analyze Desh's book and teachings on a philosophy of fearism. 

There are other lenses of course that one can bring to a book like Desh's, and that would be a "fearist" lens, a fearanalysis methodology, and so on. There is no limit of lens and methods to bring to analyze a text and then bring that out to help construct an application as a workable curriculum guide, for example. 

Okay, that's lots for this introduction to the next evolution of the philosophy of fearism practices. I look forward to anyone interested to dialogue with me on the ning and/or on email ( 

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The above book cover from Jon Young’s (2013) recent writing on what he calls “deep bird language” is an excellent read if you want to attune to what I mean by ecology of fear. Equally, and with the same implicit application, is the “philosophy of fearism” by Subba (2014). At least, that’s the hypothesis and interpretation I will present in this blogpost as it unfolds. As I have already spoken about Subba’s work here on the FM ning, where he says it in his book’s subtitle which gives away an entry point into understanding the meaning of ecology of fear: “Life is Conducted, Directed and Controlled by the Fear.” Another universal way of saying how important this subject matter is: Fear is the most powerful motivating force in Creation and especially human society. The incorporation of fear into the scholarly work on ecology is a relatively new and exciting concept, that I for one am studying.

I’ll focus on Young’s work. Herein, I both embrace the work of Young (an expert, Indigenous-based tracker and thinker, naturalist, birder, author and educator—and, a student of the internationally recognized Tom Brown Jr. tracking school) and I’ll critique it for what it neglects to say explicitly about the nature and role of fear in ecology and in the world of birds and Nature itself.

To give you a quick sample, let’s take how Young markets his book and the value of learning “deep bird language” based on bird’s behavior in the wilds and our backyards. He argues that if we attend carefully to the entire field of bird sounds and behaviors in any environment, we’ll learn more what is going on ecologically—from the very moment we step outside our house door. We won’t learn everything ecological there is to know from the birds. No, that would be foolish to assume. He’s more measured in his claim and says we’ll access a good deal of the major things happening with birds and mammals behaviorally. He says the benefits of this attunement to deep bird language involves developing our own primal animal-part of our brains, allowing a cross-species communication to give us cues and truths we ordinarily miss-- bringing that back to life to better work for us day to day; secondly, and the benefit will be “How can we access that [bird ecology] world through our awareness of deep bird language so that we can also see more wildlife?” (p. xix)

To attune to birds, Young suggests (and I believe he is right on, as I am a long-time birder), is the best thing we can do in any environment if we want to “see more wildlife.” And have a more enjoyable and intimate experience in Nature. Because? Birds are incredibly aware of what is happening because they have the best vantage point of view of any environment—equally, they are very vocal and relatively easy to watch and hear. They are the sentinels, the news-reporters and monitors of the goings-on in an environment. You pay attention to the birds and you’ll gain a tonne of information to what they are paying attention to that you likely cannot see nor even notice. To put it simply, as the Indigenous peoples know, they are your guides to the outdoors. Bird spirits and feathers are often used in Indigenous rituals.

Most people haven’t a clue that this is so and wouldn’t believe it. Young writes that we humans today, for the most part, “Have lost much of our sensory keenness [survival instincts], we are at a great disadvantage, but we can do much better” (p. xvii). We have an adaptive ecological-sensory system to maintain a healthy and quality relationship with environments. It keeps us “real” and “connected.” Walking the streets or driving a car, especially with an ipod or any electronic music or phone plugged into your ears is not the way to Natural attunement and connection. It is a Cultural connection but that’s all. The Natural world is ultimately the foundational one if you are about Life—it is more important to be connected to than anything else, Young, and Four Arrows and I would argue. The latter, is how all individuals and species “make it.” But, from all signs of our species great destruction of the environment and ecological system fragilities in so many parts of the earth, it seems we have lost our attunement and direction and need to pay careful attention to that instinctive living wisdom inside us. The birds can help us, says Young.

I’ll leave this sample clue to what I am going to talk about now, and have you sit with this notion of the importance of birds (and Young positions the common American Robin as the most important sentinel in most cases; although I won’t focus on that). I’ll let you also sit with thinking through why is it that we can “see more wildlife” when we pay attention to the birds. Clue: Because, Young is really saying that the problem of not seeing more wildlife comes about because we are frightening wildlife away from us way before we get to within visibility of them. He hit the nail on the hammer: “We are often (usually, to be honest) a jarring, unaware presence in the world beyond the front door” (p. xvii). Yes, “frightening” them with our “bird plow” effect as he calls it. I’ll return to this all later after I give more context to the ecology of fear notion.

Yet, let me quickly say what questions are driving this interest in studying birds (Nature) in order to be a better fearologist. A fearologist is someone, as I defined the term many years ago, who studies the nature of fear in relationship to life. The fearologist, following many psychologies [1] wants to know the best truth about fear that is possible so we can have the best fear management/ education. With that, we ought to then be best attuned to truth and reality, rather than letting excess fear lead us away from truth and reality and that creates disastrous problems. Now, the trick is to access that best information on fear and its management. How do we? What methodology? Where do we look to learn that? What might get in the way of us finding that best information?

So, after reading Four Arrows' work, whom you’ll see mentioned on this FMning several times, I thought to follow his basic premise in how to best understand fear in becoming what he called (as did Sam Keen) a “connoisseur of fear.” He wrote: “To survive and thrive, wild animals must be experts in Fear. Humans who wish to express their positive potentiality must also be connoisseurs of this great motivator [Fear]” (Jacobs, 1998, p. 156). Both Four Arrows (aka Don T. Jacobs) and I use a very broad definition of Fear, just to keep that in mind throughout this blogpost. Ha hah! There it was. The poignant claim from this Indigenous educator guiding us humans (i.e., primarily, he was writing to the urbanized non-Indigenous modern Westerners)—the claim that if we humans want to know best about the nature and role of fear (he capitalized Fear) then we ought to listen to “wild animals” as our teachers, and to Nature in general. I’m all for that because that is actually where I learned the most wisdom in my life since I was a very young child. My first career was a naturalist, both as hobby and as a professional Park Interpreter, albeit, the latter was only for a few summers. I learned to carefully and quietly observe Nature very carefully as a hunter/tracker—in the form of a fisherman, ever since my dad taught me to hold a fishing rod at about four years old.

It is my work on fearlessness since 1989 that has led to me expanding my own consciousness and exploring Fear (and fear management) along a spectrum of evolutionary spheres from Natural to Cultural to Spiritual—each distinct but overlapping and evolving in that order (at least, that’s a theory). If you are interested in that theory you may want to look at the first piece of writing I have done on ecology of fear (Fisher, 2012). I map out the Ecology of Fear components as part of Defense Intelligence systems universal in living organisms (p. 8). I won’t get that technical and philosophical in this blogpost. Also, one ought to note that there is a new postmodern poststructuralist discourse and philosophy around “ecologies” that is being applied from the original science meaning into the humanities and social sciences (a la Deleuze and Guattari), but that is all too complex to enter into here. Okay, time for more context.

In the early years of 2000, when I posited that we need a new ‘Fear’ Studies program in all schools (K-16) and societies in general, I was foregrounding the necessity to study fear (‘fear’ and Fear) from many perspectives, multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary. I noted there was a new movement being recognized in the study of affect, emotions and fear specifically that could be termed “a new scholarship on fear.” This historical and postmodern context is essential to understanding how I think about Fear and how I think we all ought to start thinking about Fear in new ways if we are to find better solutions to the Fear Problem. [okay, at this point, you can see I talk about fear, ‘fear,’ and Fear etc. Each distinct but interrelated. I don’t want to get into all that technical definition material that the fearologist has to consider; so for ease of reading I’ll use fear mostly unless I want to emphasize something beyond that normal configuration]

To write about the ecology of fear, say, rather than the psychology of fear is to raise the question of why most people have never heard of the former and would have no problem recognizing and understanding what the latter means. One is a weird term and the other is normal. Just right there begins the context for my critique of the dominating discourses of fear in our societies and the ruling disciplines (e.g., Psychology) that have controlled how we define, make meaning of, make normal, and develop rhetorics around fear and its management and education. I am convinced that the world will not make much progress in bringing the out-of-control fear cycle under some healthy management until we expand our critical literacy and vocabulary, and enlighten our imaginary for what fear (‘fear’) and the human relationship are all about.

Thus, ecology of fear is one of many other[2] recently coined phrases, from the late 1990s (e.g., Brown, Laundŕe and Gurung, 1999; Davis, 1999), which begins to unravel the hegemony of the disciplinary fields of Biology, Psychology, Biomedicine and Psychiatry when it comes to understanding the nature and role of fear. These fields have notoriously kept “fear” located in the body and individual, in the Cultural sphere, usually restricted to the brain/mind as the primary source and place of meaning-making. There are many critiques one could raise, and I have along with others for decades. Yet, that is far beyond the scope of this blogpost. What is worth remembering is that a notion like ecology of fear immediately invokes a relational ontology, epistemology and understanding of fear dynamics in both the human world and also the non-human world and their environments.

Jon Young’s Contribution to the Ecology of Fear

My life-partner and I were at an Indigenous Wisdom and Sustainability conference recently where she purchased Young’s book. We were both interested in birds, albeit, I have taught her most everything she knows, not to be a smart ass about it, it is just a fact. My deep desire to know everything about birds grew out of my brother and I noticing birds while fishing, especially when we weren’t catching fish. My brother bought a cheap Radio Shack spotting scope and a bird guidebook when we were in our late teens. It was so cool being able to watch a bird so close-up and you didn’t have to scare the bird away by trying to get close to it and identify it. This was the opening into a whole new world for both of us, although he quickly faded in interest and I kept it going, to the point where it became part of my profession as a wildlife technician and naturalist. To this day, I still bird watch everyday, usually out the front window of our living room or from the back porch patio space.

When I read Young’s book in bits, it quickly attuned me that he was talking about a whole new way of seeing the Robin, and other small “dickie birds” as some would call them who were less appreciative of the small birds and who liked to focus on the big masculine birds of prey and game birds. I liked dickie birds from the start. They come in such a variety of colors and shapes and make amazing music. Anyways, Young’s book about “deep bird language” was somewhat familiar to me but not quite anything I had thought about consciously nor trained my ears for specifically. He had studied this way since a small boy. He mastered bird behavior and sounds. He could ‘read’ what they were saying, as best a human can interpret things like that. So, I was intrigued. I began practicing listening and looking in different ways when I was outside. I would attune, as he suggests, to what the birds are 'saying' and how their emotional state is, and whether or not anything is in their environment that they are going to signal you about its presence (e.g., a predator)--that is if you are attending carefully. Yes, birds are the best sentinels and some of the smartest of creatures in Nature. He wrote, “There’s nothing random about birds’ awareness and behavior. They have too much at stake—life and death [survival]” (p. xvii). Birds give you a quick monitoring index of the “state” or emotional “ecology” of an area, at least in a certain way. Ah ha! I thought, they are the Fear signalers in the ecology of an area.

It would take a lot words to articulate all of Young’s theory of “deep bird language” and so I’ll suggest you read his book or go online and read his writing or watch his Youtube presentations, etc. But, let me focus in on the jist of how I interpret Young’s work on “deep bird language.” He does not focus on Fear and an ecology of fear, but he does actually know about it and mentions it per se in an end note. Yet, everything I was reading (mostly) is that birds, when they aren’t making noises feeding and communicating to their mates, singing for pleasure, and/or singing to warn competitors (e.g., male birds on territories)—they are keen observers of potential risks/dangers in their field of perceptions. They cooperate with one another to notice and warn. They are the “siren” of the woods. That’s what Young was continually talking about from the first page of his book. He was talking about bird  “alarm signals” to use proper bird behavior terminology.

By studying these alarm signals and picking them up in vocalization changes in a field of ecology, Young said you can then quickly know (or guess) where there are other animals you may want to watch as well as birds—for your pleasure. And, he teaches course on doing this. He teaches people how not to frighten and alarm birds when walking outside. He says that will stop the “bird plow” effect. This is the effect of one bird being alarmed and that signals a chain reaction because most of the birds are listening to each other. Even mammals are listening to the birds as well for this early-sounding alarm system they offer in the ecology of the field. In front of the bird plow effect all the mammals and other birds are running away from you long before you arrive close enough to see them. They don’t have to wait to see you; they are guided by the birds’ vision and awareness and alarm calls. I read this and said, yes, I know that is true from my experience and I know it is important to not frighten any creature if you can help it, or at least minimize it and that way they don’t signal other creatures to also run away from you. It’s so much fun to see animals without them being frightened of you. Their behavior is more “natural” in that sense, “calm” and if feels like you are part of nature and their lives and not upsetting it and causing them to act in ways that are different and overly influenced by you.

So, when I or anyone walks out into the environment in a certain way—as Young say, in a stressed way, with a body language of anxiety or anger (i.e., fear)—the creatures mostly pick it up immediately—the birds being the first to spread the ‘word’ to the rest of the ecology of creatures that are listening and watching the birds. It’s all a matter of survival. Birds know you—a human being—is a potential threat. Humans are top predators and we have as a species evolved with birds for millions of years preying on them for food and feathers for hats and collections—and putting them in prisons so we can have them in our houses as pets. Yes, they have a good right to fear us. Now, I won’t say that a bird like a Robin who gives a mild alarm call when I go out to the garbage can is freaking out and in fear immediately. No, they are in cautionary mode—alert. That’s their evolutionary Defense Intelligence System kicking-in, mildly, unless they are further disturbed by seeing me carrying a rifle and pointing it at them, etc . Anyways, you get the general jist of what I am talking about no doubt.

Fear, and alarm behaviors, mild and/or intense, is such a primary functioning of the ecology of fear dynamics. If it was a cat walking out to the garbage bin area, the birds would likely even give a bigger more dramatic set of codes in their behaviors (like tail bobbing) and sharp alarm calls that are very loud. The whole ecology of the area in terms of behavior and emotional tone is affected by one species (a predator) moving through the territory. Note, I don’t want to overly project how humans’ experience fear (especially today, living in a culture of fear) onto animals that are non-human. Unfortunately, as I’ll show below, Young does this. However, at the same time, one has to imagine it is very likely that as humans are growing more and more anxious and afraid, as the clinical and research studies show, then we are also affecting the wild creatures (i.e., various ecologies), not to forget to include domestic creatures. Arguably, the fear-base-line is increasing and affecting everything—it is also called distress and trauma effects. I think of all the wars and what that does to animals. I think of the booming base weekend music and loud cars and trucks with loud stereos meant to ‘kill’ and mufflers meant to make more noise, and so on. What impact is that having on the ecology of fear of environments and ecologies? Is it not scaring us all to death, human and non-human?

Now, if you use the analogy of the “bird plow” effect where fear is spread so quickly from the detection of a predator and/or threat of some kind in a field of relations (i.e., an ecology), then imagine what an event like 9/11 produces, and/or any such other terrifying and traumatic dramatization. Even what happens in a household ecology with the contagion of a parent’s fear plowing through the environment, upsetting the ecology of cooperation, trust and harmony into an ecology of distress and conflict, competition in its worse ways of domination, etc. Social pschologists and others are writing about this contagion of fear effect, but they have not got down to usually talking about and conceptualizing an ecology of fear (like Davis, 1999 does for a whole city and region). There are more complexities of how to define and make meaning of the ecology of fear (i.e., very similar in my mind to the construct of culture of fear, or climate of fear). I will be working on better describing this rather nebulous notion of ecology of fear for many years, I have no doubt. Similarly, the architecture of fear, and geography of fear, and so on... as the new postmodern fear scholarship is expanding beyond the psychology of fear.

Now to the crux of this blogpost. Four Arrows, and others have been long suggesting that modern day humans need to learn from Nature as its best teacher on survival, on living with the laws of Nature, and causing the least harm in our thoughts and actions. I agree in general, that we ought to look to Nature, birds in the case of Young’s arguments, for expertise on safety/security, risk, threat, alarms—all of which are part of an ecology of fear, and all of which compose our Defense Intelligence System. I have argued in Fisher (2012) that the ecology of fear layer of our meta-motivational template is designed by evolution as the foundation for a healthy and sustainable existence. It is foundational, or a first principle of value if you want to stay alive and healthy, and once you accomplish the learning needed for a robust and mature ecology of fear, then you can reproduce and do the ecology of love well, and if that is done well developmentally, then you can access an ecology of freedom. All of that path of meta-motivational layers in human development and evolution are motivated by fearlessness. That’s my nutshell theory of motivation.

So, the crux of argument is that we ought to learn about fear and fear management best from birds, as Young doesn’t say in his book. I critique his work in many areas of sort of coming close to saying this but then he gets distracted and talks about other things, like how we can start to see more animals if we pay attention to birds and not scare them. He doesn’t seem to get it that what a human is dealing with in nature all the time is an ecology of fear (it is not the only ecology). But Fear is a major foundation for all the other ecologies, if you define it as Defense Intelligence System. Also, could be called the Safety and Security System (which, Maslow sort of places as foundational on his hierarchy of needs model). Young doesn’t catch the importance of how Fear is the primary factor of his entire book and what he writes about and gets excited to learn about and teach about.

Young’s book cover is a clue to why I am saying his book is a great study in the ecology of fear (with birds as focal point in how that system operates in nature). If you look back at the cover illustration which I posted to start this blog, you’ll see the Robin in the middle of the ecological field, as the sentinel. You’ll see the connecting threads around it to other creatures, and notice, all of them are predators, other than the deer. Why is it? Because, his whole book revolves around predator-prey relations and how that is part and parcel of an ecology of fear.

My other critique of Young’s philosophy and writing in this book is that he imposes in several places the concept of “fear” or “anxiety” onto birds and the Natural domain, not realizing he is a highly Cultural domain being brought up in the modern cultural world—which, I and others argue, is actually a culture of fear. This latter context of human development is a powerful shaper of human identity, behaviors, thinking. Young ignores all that, and goes about saying things like:

“Of course, the Robin advises me about what seems to be its greatest fear: the deadly accipiters ... [i.e., bird hawks]” (p. xiv) or “After the Sharpie or Coopers [hawks] has left the stage, the terrorized birds act as if they are numb with shock (though considering how frequently this happens, they cannot possibly be in shock).” (p. 157) or “A nervous wolf—a nervous anything—radiates waves of tension that every other creature in the wild senses” (p. 163)

Exactly, my point: how could wolves be nervous when they live in the Natural world? They might only be nervous of humans who have systematically hunted and slaughtered them more or less in genocidal campaigns for a long long time. That’s another story. How can Robins be terrorized and in shock because of an attempt by a natural predator upon then in a Natural world—where, these species have co-evolved for millions of years in a healthy and sustainable ecology—an ecology of fear? No problem. No bird has to be terrorized, so why mention it? Because it is a projection of the human’s experience of being preyed upon—and, I mean, experience of contemporary life, albeit, there are likely traces of old memories from when we lived naturally as a species in the savannahs of Africa. Note, Young takes the comment about terrorized back in parentheses—perhaps, he unconsciously and subconsciously knew his statement was false or doubtful?

Humans are terrified because of living in a culture of fear that has systematically taught us to be terrified and to lose touch with our natural regulation processes of when stressed out (e.g., after a chase by a hawk that may be a jet bombing your village); naturally, you go into your natural de-stressing behaviors to calm down because the danger is not there, or is reduced. Every Robin knows this instinctively. It is all about de-stressing (what I have called the basic “spirit of fearlessness”)—and even healing if necessary. I won’t go into my long theory of healing and hurting, and coping and oppression—the latter, which is what has invaded and made up the Cultural sphere for a very long time—from a “departure point” as Four Arrows (2016) calls it. As a fearologist, I think Young is right to say we can learn so much about predator-prey relations from watching and listening to Nature (birds, especially). I think he is mistaken to call wild animals of any kind “terrorized” in their Natural interactions with other animals, even humans.

So, to end this sketchy blogpost of exploring thoughts... I want to say that I have found myself really enjoying thinking about environments everywhere, in terms of how there is an ecology of fear going on which is partly visible and detectable, and is also invisible largely and requires attunement and requires a new vocabulary to allows us to think about fear and its dynamics in environments differently. After what I have been critiquing in Young’s presentation (projections of human fear onto Nature), there is the inevitable critique that could be thrown at me and my writing here. Why am I calling this all an “ecology of fear”—is that not a projection of how humans and I experience fear? It may be. I am only using the expression “ecology of fear” because it is being used by many across different disciplines and it seems to have some value of expanding our imaginary in how we think about ecological relations in wild areas, domesticated areas, and so on. I applaud that work. In the end, it may be a misnomer. If we are aware of this, and make note of it in our writing on the concept of ecology of fear, then readers will know we are aware and it will make us be a little more cautious about our claims. Which is a good thing. Other than that, I’m curious to see where this whole sub-field of work on the ecology of fear goes.

I look forward to talking with anyone more on all this. We need better theory and then applications of theory in different environments to see if we can intervene in them and help produce less fearful environments everywhere, from the psychiatric hospital to our homes and schools, etc.

What can the plants and animals of this world teach us, foundationally, about fear (Fear) and courage and fearlessness, that may be very useful and relatively “cleaner” (free of fear-based distortions) from a lot of what human beings, who live in a culture of fear, are currently teaching about fear? Who can I trust most to be a teacher on fear management/ education? Who are the experts? How will we decide? This is a question not usually asked in the circles of those in the West (at least) who write about fear and courage, for example. So, let me end with a validating quote of my position in this blogpost. It comes from Four Arrows’ (2016) latest book:

“Socrates, like most philosophers who have shaped, rationalized, or been influenced themselves by the dominant [W.] worldview [3] did not rely upon other-than-human wisdom. Indigenous worldview sees courage [and fearlessness] as inseparable from a deep sense of relationship and reciprocity to all of life. ‘Other-than-humans’ represent the ultimate teachers of courage.... or fearlessness” (p. 56).

Young’s book is all about this, as I interpret it beneath the surface. The front cover of Young’s book reminds me of how it is all (or nearly all) about predatory-prey relational ecologies which are so Natural and important to learn about and attune to. They are foundational to any healthy and quality life that is connected. Four Arrows (2016) asks us to question our current ways of living, “... might we give more credit to other-than-humans for their displays of courage and fearlessness as a learned phenomenon...? (p. 57). Young and I say “yes,” indeed we must learn what the birds know and observe how they learn what they know in regard to predator-prey relationships[4] especially, because that is where we learn about the ecology of fear wisdom so critical to survival.


1. I want to be as transparent as possible as to my own biased approach to Psychology and psychologies. I am heavily critical of Psychology per se. I love the field too, but I am more of the camp called “Critical Psychology.” Yet, more deeply profound is my commitment to what I call the “Healing School of Psychology” (i.e., psychologies). This School parallels all the other five major schools (or waves) of psychology (e.g., psychoanalysis, behaviorism/cognitivism, humanistic-existential, transpersonal and integral). The Healing School parallels the Coping School (psychologies), sort of analogous to how I see the Indigenous Worldview parallels the Western Worldview—acknowledging both exists, and both have a purpose and value, yet, the Healing School (like Indigenous Worldview) are the only truly healthy and whole schools of thought. Very briefly, let me say that The Healing School is a large amalgam of many ways of thinking that put priority on fearlessness, more or less. They ask us as a coping society to face into the truth of what has happened over the millenium whereby we departed from being a healing society and adopted being a coping society. This has been a deadly replacement/displacement (as Freud’s defense mechanism theory would inform this). I call it the Blue Pill replaced the Red Pill, if you are someone who watched The Wachowski Brother’s blockbuster sci-fi trilogy films (1999-2003). I am not going to go into this in detail. I will say only that we overall, especially in modern societies, have ‘bought in’ and been ‘tricked in’ to buying that coping is better than healing when we look at how to exist in everyday society. This is a Lie of the greatest proportions but it feeds a lot of industries (e.g., drugs, pharmaceuticals, safety and security businesses, police and military, etc.). Coping will keep you in fear-based distress, more or less, with bits of relief based on what someone sells to you, or some relaxation technique that softens the symptoms of pain arising from hurts unhealed. This is the great chronic problem at the core of the Fear Problem—now, we are even afraid of healing—and have forgotten it is completely naturally built-in by evolution. We pay people to ‘heal us’ and so on. The coping industries, are the fearmongering industries. Now, that’s what we really need to change and disengage our many forms of psychologies that support coping over healing. 

2. There are other phrases being used as units of study and sub-disciplines, like architecture of fear, anthropology of fear, geography of fear, economy of fear, history of fear, sociology of fear, philosophy of fear, theology of fear and so on.

3. Western here, for Four Arrows is also much of the Eastern philosophies as he argues in his book—it seems the Western hegemony of thought has infected the entire world for the most part. He is referring to the time 9-10,000 years ago at least when the Western or Dominant worldview began to arise and over-take other worldviews to a large extent. Indigenous worldview for Four Arrows is the worldview of pre-contact days (before, Western colonization of Indigenous cultures and lands).

4. I realize for many readers of this, they may think that the reduction of Life to predator-prey relationships is a gross, harsh and overly competitive and nasty bruttish framing of Nature and Life. That’s a long argument. I merely want to say, that it seems so true that Life consists of co-evolutionary relationships, organisms with environments, organisms with organisms, etc. I have no doubt that cooperation and harmony in that sense is profound and core to how existence takes place. Yet, equally (at least) is competition for survival, which much of evolutionary theory has already well spoken to and it has been documented empirically. What I know, a prior (fact) is that when you really examine what is going on in the world of existence, it is everybody eating everybody, more or less. That’s a predatory prey ecology, and what a large number of researchers are doing today, across fields from bioecology to social sciences, are only recently investigating (which they have not really done so in the past) is “how the fear a prey has of being killed by its predator may affect the basic predator-prey interactions [behaviorally] as we understand them and how the resulting interplay in this two player game can cascade to other ecological effects. The incorporation of fear into ecology is a relatively new concept and is just now being explored more fully” (Laundré, Hernández and Ripple, 2010, p. 1). I am intrigued by the notion of what are called crises of “trophic cascades” in ecological literature. Someday, I’ll write out my own theory of how such cascades can come about when say the “ecology of fear” reaches such toxicity in an area or domain of existence, it can bring down all the gains of an “ecology of love” and “ecology of freedom” to their lowest common denominator of basically self-destruction based on toxic fear/distress. Then a whole system is in ‘big trouble.’ I think we are well heading into such a crises of cascading effects, and I am not the only one suggesting this is the case. The next 10-15 years will prove this out I predict. So, I say, lets really understand how this plays out, and do so by refining our meta-motivational theory of what drives human behavior via four basic ecologies (see Fisher, 2012).


Brown, J. S., Laundŕe, J. W., and Gurung, M. (1999). The ecology of fear: Optimal foraging game theory, and trophic interactions. Journal of Mammology, 80(2), 385-99.

Davis, M. (1999). Ecology of fear: Los Angeles and the imagination of disaster. NY: Vintage Books.

Fisher, R. M. (2012). Steps to an ecology of fear: Advanced curriculum for fearlessness.  Technical Paper No. 38. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research          Institute.

Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age          Publishing.

Jacobs, D. T. (1998). Primal awareness: A true story of survival, transformation, and awakening with the Rarámuri shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

Laundré, J. W., Hernández, L., and Ripple, W. J. (2010). The landscape of fear: Ecological implications of being afraid. The Open Ecology Journal, 3, 1-7.

Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.

Young, J. (2013). What the robin knows: How birds reveal the secrets of the natural world. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Read more…

Feariatry: A First Conceptual Mapping

Desh Subba (2014), using a "fearist perspective" and a reading of history and human development based on a "philosophy of fearism"-- coined the term "feariatry" and wrote a few pages on its conceptualization (see pp. 156, 160-61).[1] His basic idea was that psychiatry has not fully seen the nature and role of fear in mental illness and well-being. He posited, that in the future there will be feariatrists as well as psychiatrists. The former would use a philosophy of fearism to guide their practice of psychiatry. He also believed that the knowledge from the sub-field of feariatry would help people in the grassroots of communities and other mental health and social workers to better understand that we ought to be diagnosing fear problems in people and offering them appropriate solutions and not allowing ourselves to be ruled by psychiatry. I would add, and not be ruled by psychology either (thus, Subba and I have also been developing fearology, and fearanalysis).

The following concept map is one of my first ways of articulating a vision for a field of study or a topic. This ought to provide the more complex version of conceptualization beyond Subba's initial concept. We both know there is no one and only way to define the sub-field of feariatry but it will take many creative efforts to build a good theory and practice. I have given a wide and deep lens to what I would like to see go into the development of feariatry in the future. The details of course are yet to come.

End Note

Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.

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Wit(h)nessing The Birth of a New Movement in the Contemporary Arts of the East

 It has been a fascinating role for me, a Westerner to witness the birthing of a new movement of thought and creativity coming out of the far East.

 Philosophy of Fearism, is an underlying meaning frame and philosophical stance on what can be called a literary phenomena or new movement, that of Fearism; they are two expressions, arising out of the literary community of Nepal since the late 1990s and starting to bloom rapidly in some far Eastern countries, especially N. India, in the early 21st century. Desh Subba, a Nepalese poet, fiction novelist, and budding philosopher, is one of the pioneer founders of this new movement, who authored its first major philosophical text. [1]  

 I (RMF) joined this new movement in 2014, as Desh and I were engaged in dialogue on email and were planning a co-authored book together [2]. Indirectly, on my own independent course of research, art, writing, education and philosophy of fearlessness, it seems I was beginning my own new movement of fearism but didn’t give it that name, rather I called it the fearlessness movement, which this ning is named after. This is why you’ll see often references from Desh Subba here, and other places in my work, because “two has become one.” One philosophy of fearism, as part of the fearism movement. At the same time, I have also been crafting my own unique way into this movement under integral philosophy (integralism) but that's another story [3].

 To help readers understand the context of a new movement in contemporary arts in the West, I looked up some information on a website below. At the end, of this list, I give my own version of Fearism, as I understand how it is operating and evolving in the far East; which, to note, no such collective movement is happening in the West (not yet). Desh recently published (August 21, 2016) on the FMning a list of 19 books based on fearism already published and/or coming out soon (most, not in English), as they range from poetry books to children’s stories, to fiction adult stories, and philosophical and literary criticism.

 “Literature constantly evolves as new movements emerge to speak to the concerns of different groups of people and historical periods.” Of 30 or more movements, here are a few listed for the Western world:

 Postmodernism (c. 1945–present): A notoriously ambiguous term, especially as it refers to literature, postmodernism can be seen as a response to the elitism of high modernism as well as to the horrors of World War II. Postmodern literature is characterized by a disjointed, fragmented pastiche of high and low culture that reflects the absence of tradition and structure in a world driven by technology and consumerism. Julian Barnes, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, and Kurt Vonnegut are among many who are considered postmodern authors.

 Romanticism (c. 1798–1832): A literary and artistic movement that reacted against the restraint and universalism of the Enlightenment. The Romantics celebrated spontaneity, imagination, subjectivity, and the purity of nature. Notable English Romantic writers include Jane Austen, William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth. Prominent figures in the American Romantic movement include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier.

 Surrealism (1920s–1930s): An avant-garde movement, based primarily in France, that sought to break down the boundaries between rational and irrational, conscious and unconscious, through a variety of literary and artistic experiments. The surrealist poets, such as André Breton and Paul Eluard, were not as successful as their artist counterparts, who included Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and René Magritte.

 Transcendentalism (c. 1835–1860): An American philosophical and spiritual movement, based in New England, that focused on the primacy of the individual conscience and rejected materialism in favor of closer communion with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden are famous transcendentalist works.


Fearism (c. 1999-  ): A Nepalese literary and philosophical movement, based in the far East, that focuses on the primacy of fear in shaping human motivation and activities across all spheres of life; this movement has an underlying philosophy of fearism (e.g., Desh Subba’s work) which favors a positive role for fear, as well as a negative one; and, this teaching philosophy ought to be translated to all cultures around the world using all means from populist education to higher education. Desh Subba’s Philosophy of Fearism is one of the many texts that demonstrates the principles of this new movement.

End Notes:

1. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. [Trans. R. Subba and B. K. Rai]. Australia: Xlibris.

2. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

3. Like the other influential new movements (isms), Integralism is both ancient and new (with Ken Wilber being one of the most important new interpreters and leaders of this movement with his Integral Philosophy). This line of thought has not specifically been influential to Subba et al. in the East. I look forward to developing and sharing this in the future, and I did include it in Fisher and Subba (2016) at various points. Also, the integral perspective has heavily influenced my philosophy of fearlessness (i.e., fear management/education theory) see, Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

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I finally received a first published hard copy of my new co-authored book Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue (of which I have written previously on this FMning). I glanced it over and opened the book randomly at a few places and started reading. It's a little shocking to read one's own published work sometimes: "Who wrote that?" The overall impression is positive and that's a good sign. I happened to think (with all modesty and objectivity as I can muster) that there is no book more important on the topic fear and its management on the planet right now (that I know of). This short blog will say a few words (and quote from the new book) about why I think this is true. Btw, I thank my co-author Desh Subba (a Nepalese philosopher, novelist, poet) for his dedication to developing a philosophy of fearism and his openness to include me in that conceptualization and project. I see myself dedicating the rest of my working years (maybe 15 left until I'm 80) on this new philosophy. 

So the pages I happen to open to at random come from Chapt. 4 (pp. 98-100) which is unique in the book because Desh encouraged me to re-vise but basically republish a 2014 essay I wrote on a "Theory of Fearism" (Technical Paper No. 51) (note: theory of fearism as distinct from, but related to, a philosophy of fearism). I begin with a Foreword to Technical Paper No. 51: 

p. 98: "In Chapter 3 of this co-authored book there is a controversial message: "There is something wrong in the field of fear management" [a phrase I penned in my first major scholarly book The World's Fearlessness Teachings in 2010, p. xxvii]. I go on to talk about why we need various theories of fearism (mine, which I call fearism-t) in order to have a healthy philosophy of fearism, and from that a healthy set of practices of fear management (and fear education). Yes, I could just have easily written: "There is something wrong in the field of fear education" (i.e., fear education used in a positive way, analogous to sex education). So, how controversial is this claim? What do I back it up with? 

Let me first say, the phrase "something wrong" is hyperbole in a sense to attract attention on a problem in the field of fear management. In retrospect, I am not sure this is a good way to get attention, because the very discourse of labeling something "wrong" is highly problematic in terms of its long history (especially in the West) of being a way to put something, some group, some policy, some person (and their behavior or values) down. It is a criticism. And it carries a lot of fear-based baggage (garbage, toxicity) that tends to easily slide from saying "something is wrong" to "someone is wrong" and I would not want to perpetuate such a notion. I think it is too partial of a claim and it tries to paint the entire reality of something or someone as "wrong" in an absolute sense. And, it immediately raises the question of who (and from what perspective) can anyone judge that anyone is wrong--same applies to something. The use of the label "wrong" (often with emotional discharge behind it) is clearly an attack to putting something down and "diss it", more or less. I won't go on and on with this but to say the use of the term (hyperbole or not) is a dangerous one of bringing more injury into human society--and that means concomitantly bringing more fear with it. Arguably, it is "fear talk" to blame, shame and make someone or something "bad" (the opposite of good, and it may even mean making it "evil"). 

So, I used the phrase as hyperbole, and I could have (more sensitively) said: There is something wrong in the field of fear management, even though there is a good deal of something right in the field of fear management. Then, that would be both more fair, and less re-stimulating of our hurts and fear itself. Especially, in that I am not intending to attack anything or anyone per se who practices fear management as a professional, theorist, etc. Nor, would I want anyone who teaches and designs fear management curricula to feel I am attacking them and their work and their motivation. Criticism alone is usually not very useful and does more harm than good. Critique however, in contrast to criticism, is when you point out the negative and positive at the same time, in proportion to a healthy engagement with someone, rather than trying to put them down. I intended to offer a critique in my new book re: the state of the field of fear management (or, equally of fear education). I think if anyone reads my books they will find I can get passionate and critical and even slip into criticism but that if they read on it is more critique I offer overall. But I'll leave others to assess my work overall, as I am too close to it to tell. 

Returning to the point of this blog, I am taken with my clarity in the new book (scanning pp. 98-100), of how simple (and controversial) the message is that I have argued. It is worth repeating again but maybe I'll do it in a more readable way here in this blog. Things need to be said many times, and in many ways, in order to communicate. Sometimes a reader will hear it anew, from a different time and place and with some different language. As an educator myself, I am dedicated to not giving up on anyone, even when they tell me "I read your book and I don't really understand it." Okay, to the basic simple message in these couple pages, which really well represents my overall project--it all boils down to something like this: 

1. there is something wrong in the field of fear management; and that is skewing how we understand best how to know fear and thus, manage it well

2. that something wrong (or missing) is ....... a "harmful violent ideology" (p. 98) that over-shadows the entire study of fear

3. a theory and philosophy of fearism (e.g., Fisher and Subba) can address this ideology and ensure a 'correction' to what is missing (wrong) in fear management

4. no one else has pointed out the above problems (gaps, errors, "something wrong" or missing), until now, in this new book .... etc. 

Okay, there's the basics of the my work I am so passionate about. Would this excite anyone else, to the point where they would dedicate some time, or a lot of time to helping clarify the problem in the field of fear management (and, in every day life as we manage fear, more or less consciously)? With this new clarification, we could then develop interventions more healthy re: fear, and its study and management. We could create a re-evaluation of everything we think we know about fear, and run it all through a new deconstruction and reconstruction--that is, through a new theory and philosophy of fearism. 

On p. 99, I have a sub-title: Fearism-t and Epistemic Violence: Reconstructing Fear Management. That speaks to a greater articulation of all of the above. And, about now, one gets the creeping feeling that this all is about to impact the way one perceives, thinks, and acts in regard to fear. That's pretty major in implication to our everyday life. That involves being a lot more consciousness and self-reflective (and critical) about everything to do with fear--and, especially what others tell you about fear (e.g., authors, teachers, parents, ministers, psychology clinicians, policemen, lawyers, government leaders, business corporate heads, and so on). 

The simple notion is there. But will we talk about this further, or merely read about it? Will we talk about "a 'harmful violent ideology' surrounding the study of fear--and, in particular, the construction and dissemination of the knowledge about fear and its management and education" (p. 98)? Another way to put the problem is something like this: 

A lot of authors/experts on the topic of fear management (and researchers) often say: It is not fear that is the problem, it is how we manage it that matters most. Such a claim has become ever-popular in layman and professional circles today. It is partially (in my view) good wisdom but to a point. I (and Subba) tend to stretch this quite a lot more to a critical perspective on that claim itself (which, btw, those who utter the above predominant wisdom of the day, never reflect on themselves and offer readers some opening (cautionary) of critical inquiry into the claim and its potential limitations, if not distortions--they seem to not be aware of a perspective beyond their own favorite one--which gets repeated by others who think like they do). So, on p. 98-100 in the new book, I offer another entirely different angle (and I think a much better one): The problem with fear and how we manage it is that we lack a critical awareness and vocabulary (i.e., guiding methodology) that operates outside of the fear-based structure of the field of fear management. And thus, we return to the 4 points I listed re: the basic problem--which, you can see is articulated much differently than the popular wisdom problem articulation above. Introducing a notion of a harmful violent ideology surrounding the study of fear--becomes a very simple but also complex intervention I throw into the soup pot. The main ingredient missing in the popular wisdom is a notion of fearlessness (but that's a much longer story, of which I write about in my other WFT book). 

From this point forward, my work (and Subba's) is essentially different from anything else out there. It is also in that sense, critical of anything else out there. Now, in the long-run, time and experience will prove if it is better, as we both think it is. And, any such "proving" will only occur when others (beyond Subba and I) take serious interest with the necessary support of resources to help test the theory and philosophy of fearism. There's no doubt in our minds, that many theories and variations of philosophies are required to cover the huge territory of fear (and/or 'fear')--or what I like to simply call The Fear Problem today. So, I am not looking for only "followers" (yes, they are helpful for the cause), I am looking for allies who think critically (and have healthy doubt) about everything--including everything I just wrote in this blog! 

Give me a call or email [618-529-1166] if you want to talk seriously (or even playfully)... and co-create with me and this work. 

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It has been an intense 10 mo. working on this new book Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue (2016, just published by Xlibris International). I have written a few prior times on this blog site about the book, and I just posted a photo and short write up as well. The following is going to be something more raw and fresh as I have been writing today about the 'birth' of this book, and how I see it is significant. I know everyone who encounters the book will make up their own mind about its significance. I hope you write me if you want to tell me and others what you think. This blog can be a location to document those conversations. 

So, the writing about the book here is from my journal, writing unedited, and spontaneous for the most part: 

On the simplest concrete level one merely sees an image of a book cover, Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue, and if they don't take time to dwell with it and better yet read it, they are going to likely be missing so much. It's a shame that will happen, inevitably, as I have known it to be the case with my other prior book, published 6 yrs ago (The World's Fearlessness Teachings). I wish I could be there to encourage everyone to dwell with this new book and see beyond the surfaces of words and images, and imagine deeper. It is troublesome I know for most to do so. Philosophy and fearism together as words, concepts, is a strange mix but then there is the purpose of the book, perhaps even stranger. 

The book is intended to outline (epistemologically) the necessity for a new kind of philosophy (practical and social) that human history has not seen before, and in that light it is so incredibly radical. For me, a lifer-kind-of accomplishment. I am most curious what it will do for the reader, layperson, academic, philosopher but that is all unknown at this point, other than the few folks who reviewed the ms before publication. It is going to be an odd book for me in that I am interpreting Desh Subba's work a lot (Philosophy of Fearism, 2014) and he comes from another culture and part of the world (the East, Nepal, and living in Hong Kong)... he's a poet, novelist, writes in Nepalese... and all these factors, now, bring his work as a philosopher of that 'strange' part of the world into my life and writing and thinking... philosophizing... and this book is the outcome of all that, including my original work on a philosophy of fearlessness. But, now I return to think about the reader of this book. I realize now, which I didn't realize before when writing it, that this book is not so much for the individual. It is for the World Soul, the collective-social-communal aspect of our psychic-soul reality. It is hard to say that. I didn't write that in the book itself. But it is there. 

Fear has never been treated at the center of a philosophy before, not anywhere near the extent as in this new book. It marks a new awareness and calling in the World Soul of which is mostly unconscious. It is important in that the time has arrived, as Subba and I have written for decades, to make fear this important. We are needing a new philosophy that recognizes this, and develops these ideas we present. We are in (as Subba says) an Extreme Fear Age historically, and collectively. That tells me of the 'pressure' that is building in the World Soul dimension. Feartalk is "ego-talk" and Fearlessnesstalk is "soul-talk"-- this book is all about the latter, and it is articulated, unbeknownst to most everyone, that it is crafted from a Fear Management System-7 (i.e., Integral). I also made sure this was the case in the gaze I brought to The World's Fearlessness Teachings book in 2010, and most everything I have written on the topic since 1989. But, most people will look to see what the book offers individually, and yet, that would mis-interpret the scale and register of the purpose of this book --for the World Soul. 

How could writing a book for the World Soul, make a difference globally, as we are on the cusp (as Subba says) of a Fearless Age? These and many more questions are lurking in the new book, even if we don't bring them to the surface for discussion. I guess, that's what I am most curious about in the next months and years ahead as this 'soul child' of a book enters into the world and energizes the World Soul-- and, in that, the soul of which everyone cannot tap from their individuality to their collective meshworking... gravity, history, geography, and all the psychophysical and emotional and philosophical threads are there--and like a web of eternal time and space, perhaps, I believe (or am only guessing)--this book will hold a weight in that net--across time and cultures, universally... and ... and... and... 

Words run out at this point... the World Soul does not operate on the Symbolic Code (the phallic lens)... and, now, it is all poetry, art, aesthetics... at least, for me and for those who may dwell with just the 'strange' combination and emphasis which this book brings forth now in human history (herstory)... 

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Here's the cover image of the new book I just wrote (with Desh Subba)... soon to be published Jan. 1/16... keep checkin' in, as I'll write a few blogs about it... looking forward to engaging with you all on this new philosophy for the world... a world in the 'grip of fear.' (btw, I designed the cover with my art work from a 2007 art series I called "Emotospheres"...

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I recently came across an abstract from a fellow presenting at the 2014 Jean Gebser conference. I was intrigued with its focus on the role of fear in cultural evolution (and consciousness itself). Although the abstract only gives a cursory view of the presumably Gebserian perspective presented on fear, it lays out some strong claims that I think we all ought to examine critically. Gebser, in short, is highly regarded as an important philosopher-theorist by many integral thinkers of today, especially Ken Wilber has honored and cited his work. So, here is the abstract which may bring up dialogue among us, notably, there is no discussion of fearlessness with fear in a dialectical sense. 

Excerpted from


Rick Muller, PhD (2014)

Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity. That is why responses to fear, the unexpected and the unknown, are so overwhelming. Research suggests the residual effect of fear lasts longer than that of pleasure among humans. Is this a fundamental biologically encoded reaction? If so it initiates modern humans to move experiences and objects from the mental category of the unknown/feared into the mental category of the known. Doing so creates familiarity, safety, protection and the illusion of control. The historical artifacts of this process include rituals, taboos, social and familial structures, belief, dogmas, religion, law and science. All are reactions; all are protections from the ever-present inherent sense of fear, the unknown, the invisible and the ineffable.

To understand modernity or what [Jean] Gebser refers to as the mental rational requires one to have a greater sense of how the archaic/magic contributes to humanity’s response to fear. This paper suggests that fear is an initiating factor and an underlying foundation for human choice; one that affects the structuring of community, society, religion, values and ethics. One modern effort to covertly undermine the residual certainty of Gebser’s mental rational, of the Enlightenment, of Romanticism, of the Industrial and Scientific revolutions comes from within the mental rational itself. The uncanny, while predominantly mental and psychological in nature, continues to bore out of the core of modernity creating a space for the archaic, magic and mythic attributes to flourish within a fading western mental rational construction of the human world.

The ongoing disintegration of certainty frees the inherent fears from their protective structures to irrupt into individual human consciousness and everyday life. Fear, the unknown, the fear of the unknown and in modernity the fear of the perceived known continues to rattle the foundations of belief, creation, personal and collective behavior. Western anxiety is born of the social and cultural byproducts that were meant to protect humanity from fear. But do these protections and structures actually protect; if so, from what? What occurs when the protective membrane disintegrates, dissipates, becomes transparent? Death?

Rick Muller, Ph.D., is affiliate professor at Regis University’s (Denver, CO) Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Professions where he teaches accounting, finance and economics for the master’s degree in nursing program. His most recent publications include using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Ignatian Pedagogy Model for Improved Learning in Jesuit Higher Education, May 2014]; Hitting the Financial Knowledge Target in Nursing Management, October 2013 and he provided editorial assistance for an article about the current issues confronting Venezuela (April 2014) in Winds and Waves, the magazine for the Institute of Cultural Affairs International.


"Fear initiates human action. Humans at their core attempt to avoid fear by creating a world of comfort, safety and familiarity."

The prior blog I posted echoes these kind of claims, as the above quote, (typical of Desh Subba's philosophy of fearism; see my prior blogs), and sets the stage for human culture's use/management of "fear" to continue to motivate us--but in what way does it motivate us? When is it healthy? When is it pathological? How would we know the difference? The latter, is the more important question.

I am not saying fear does not motivate us. I have been writing about the down-side to this, particularly because we tend to (primarily) focus on fear and not fearlessness in history, development and cultural evolutions. If "fear is an initiating factor" and foundation for human choice, as Muller suggests (and Gebser must likely imply), we still have the problem unaddressed in this abstract as to what are we talking about when we use "fear" and is it as complete and integral enough of an understanding (and does it have a deconstruction-reconstruction critique built-in) to be useful to the 21st century and where cultural evolution seems to be going (or where it is perhaps enmeshed in a pathology that will take us all out)... just a few quick thoughts... Someone really needs to study Gebser's work and see what he directly has said about the role of fear and how that supports or doesn't a Subbaian philosophy of fearism. 


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E-W Dialogue on Fear With Desh Subba

I want to share my excitement and some research going on through co-writing, where Desh Subba (author of Philosophy of Fearism) and myself are joining forces across the world, he in Nepal/Hong Kong/India (with a following) and me in North America (with a following). I won't say much except you can look him and his book up on the Internet to know more, and I have written a book review of his work on Below is the rough draft Abstract to a long technical article on how my own philosophy of fearlessness is blended with his philosophy of fearism, and I have adopted his term as well because it is a spin of a new branch of existentialism, which makes a lot of sense. I'll let you know when we publish this full paper. I am convinced it is one of the most important documents out there 'leading at the edge' of thought on fear and fearlessness today. I look forward to your comments, as does Desh.

The Basic Epistemological Problems of Fear in a Philosophy of Fearism


R. Michael Fisher[1] & Desh Subba[2]

© 2015




The philosophy of fearism (coined by Subba), is arguably the newest branch of thinking from roots in existentialism, giving focus to the nature and role of fear as the primary shaper of human life. However, the major question behind this paper is the epistemological problem of how do we know fear? Knowing it better will lead to managing its shaping power better. Collaborating for the first time, each author brings forth a unique perspective (E. by Subba, W. by Fisher) to this radical philosophy for the 21st century, which they argue is practical, social and ethical in philosophical orientation. Building a holistic understanding, the authors use four strategic contexts in which to unfold their research and experience with fear and developing their philosophies: (a) Autobiographical and Philosophical, (b) Anthropological and Cultural, (c) Epistemological, and (d) Educational and Ethical. The focus of this essay on (c) and the epistemological problems behind such a new philosophy and fearist perspective, has to do with both disrupting habitual, and taking charge of, the ways we know fear. Epistemological issues blend into political issues because the power of fear is a great power that has to be worked with mindfully and critically. The educative and ethical point of their work on a philosophy of fearism is to not participate in fear-mongering about the future and crises we face as humanity. The authors’ outlook is revolutionary, positive, and yet realistic. They argue that we require a critical philosophy of fearism, with operational studies and practices from (at least) new fields of fearology, fearanalysis, and feariatry. As well as helping people to manage fear better and suffer less, they want to expand and diversify who controls the knowledge about fear and how it is managed and brought into our socialization and education.


[1] R. Michael Fisher is a Canadian, an artist, educator, scholar, lecturer, author and self-proclaimed postmodern fearologist with graduate degrees in rehabilitation studies, adult education and curriculum philosophy and design. He is co-founder of the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-) and founder of the Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education, and Department Head of Integral and ‘Fear’ Studies, htttp:// He currently researches, writes, and consults as a private human development consultant ( living in the USA. He can be reached at

[2] Desh Subba is Nepalese, a poet, novelist, philosopher and public intellectual. His leading work on a philosophy of fearism has led to his involvement in setting up the Fearism Study Centre in Dharan, Nepal. He is currently working in a security company and lives in Hong Kong with his family. His website is and he can be reached at

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