fear (105)


Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. (1939-2016), MEd. (photo c.1978) [1]

To teach care is to teach fear(fulness)--to teach children to be terrified (in a good way) is education at its foundational best; there is nothing more basic that the human species must engage, and if we neglect this duty, humanity will fail, argues the author Sam Gillian. 

I know of only a couple critical thinkers and philosopher-types who have written more than one book on the subject "fear" in depth. I can think of no black philosopher who has written two books on fear that are in depth. This alone makes Bro. Gillian [2] a central 21st century figure to pay attention to in the philosophy of fear. Because of his life-career as a middle school teacher and adult educator, his two books [3] are key to any study and articulation of a "pedagogy of fear." I guarantee you dear reader, Gillian is quite controversial (even radical) and will in spirit and rational thought challenge many assumptions typical of progressive education philosophy and child-rearing, care-giving etc. I think he is a progressive educator of the highest calibre but he is fiercely independent in how he thinks about progress and progressive ideas related to fear. That's what makes him a unique philosopher with lots to teach. 

He is incredibly clear in his writing and thus I would say his work is "the best" there is out there on fear, for the person on the street, so to speak, when it comes to being applicable ideas to ponder and apply immediately to our lives. His books are not shallow over-simplified "self-help" in the typical psychological way. They are more philosophical reflections and at times they are 'sermons.' He has integrated many others' thought throughout his years of study of fear [4], which began in 1972, he tells us in his brief bio. in his first book. He is an expert on fear, no doubt about it. His contribution to a good quality "fear education" is so needed today and in the future.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, his work is virtually unheard of in larger circles and in academia. I plan to write an intellectual biography of his life and work and reverse this invisibility. I look forward to anyone who wishes to discuss the "Gillianism of fear" (as I call it) [5]. 

[note: Prof. Cornel West has some similar notions as Gillian, e.g., https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/centralizing-of-the-calamitous-philosophy-in-the-key-of-terror]


End Notes

1. Thanks to Bernice Gillian, Sam's wife, for this photograph. 

2. Bro. Sam or Bro. Gillian are terms I use as endearment and respect, and I have only used such because of Sam's own proclivity to do so with me (e.g., see the photo above where I overlapped the portrait of him with his book signing signature "Bro. Sam" and it was addressed to me as "Bro. Michael" in the inside cover of his second book I had purchased from him in 2005.

3. The Beauty of Fear (2002) and Terrified by Education (2005), by Phemore Press, his own publishing company. He published no other works under that press nor did he write any other books than these two. It is hard to find copies of these, but if interested you may try contacting Bernice who may sell you a copy of these titles sbgill4273@aol.com

4. E.g., he was a big fan of the existentialist Ernest Becker, but also the likes of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts and many others. Very eclectic (E-W) reading underlies his philosophy.

5. Contact me: r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

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Glad to announce this new book, initiated and led by B. Maria Kumar and most of his essays, and I respond to them. (Indra Publishing House, 2022)

I think readers will find us as two fearists in a creative exchange that was a lot of fun for me to be involved. One may even learn something new about the "human" from this book. 

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This excerpt (first draft only) is a small piece to give you a sense of what I am 'onto' these days, especially in writing this tenth book (to be published later this year by Information Age Publishing, in their Philosophy of Education Series, Ed. Dr. John Petrovic) [1]. I have been working months and months, and it has been quite a ploughing the soil. Hard going at times. This Chapter Five took weeks to complete, as I just did this morning. Wow! It is by far the largest chapter in the book (coming in at a heavty 25,000 words itself, without the references). Yikes.

A number of fresh insights came from the writing that I could put into it, so that was good. It is never a boring writing because I risk all the time, on the edge of not knowing what I am doing and not creating chapter outlines. I just start writing. 

As always, I trust this bit of expository on fear will intrigue you to critique, to commnent, here on the FM ning. And/or you can always email me directly: 



1. Excerpt from Fisher, R. M. (in progress). The Fear Problematique: Role of Philosophy of Education in Speaking Truths to Power in a Culture of Fear. 

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This is the inside back cover of the Bio. for Samuel Nathan Gillian (1939-2015). I had a friendly (email relationship) with Sam since May 2004 until March 2005. And recently with one of his nieces (thankfully) contacting me--now I am in conversation with his wife Bernice, and there is a new project on my plate to write an intellectual biography on SNG. Just wanted to let you all know that. He has written two amazing books on fear (and education) [1], and I know of no one who has done that, and especially with him being an African-American black man, again, I know of no black person who has written two major books on fear; this combination puts his work out as an important historical record in Fear Studies. Intellectually, he developed some close links at one point with the Ernest Becker Foundation and he absorbed the writings of Ernest Becker. Sam was likely an existential thinker. Bernice says, with a great "zest for life." He also puts his own spin on fear and how best to relate to it, based on his life's experience and being one who loved children and teaching. In 2020 I wrote a technical paper on my initial connections with Sam and why he and I had our overlapping same interests and our differences about fear and fearlessness [2]. 

IF ANYONE has further information, of any kind, about SNG, please contact me: r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com

FYI: I just posted May 10/22 on "Cornel West" (see FM ning)-- as it is truly West's liberal-radical philosophy that in many ways (not all) is very much akin to Gillian's philosophy.


1. Gillian, S. N. (2002). The Beauty of Fear: How to Positively Enjoy Being Afraid. Phemore Press, Inc.; Gillian, S. N. (2005). Terrified by Education: Teaching Children to Fear Learning. Phemore Press, Inc. 

2. Fisher, R. M. (2020). Samuel N. Gillian's Beckerian Educational Philosophy of Fear/Terror. Technical Paper No. 102. In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 



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Untitled by Amaris - watercolor on paper, Feb. 17, 2022   (published with permission)

This image is recently created from a participant in a Spontaneous Creation-Making (SCM) group session (on Zoom), which Barbara and I had initiated decades ago, and currently Hallie is running a group. It is amazing what births shows up when we have time to connect communally, slow down, and then each go off into our own homes for 25 min. creating something completely unplanned. One does not need to be an artist to do this. All medium and found objects, and performances, have shown up over the years. This one above happens to be a stunning water-color painting. Barbara and I have called this SCM practice and the care that goes in sharing the creations in the group sacred circle after, a 'fear' vaccine process since the early 1990s. Why? I'll get to that later. 

First, I'll share the story of the 'artist' (creator Amaras) behind this image, as they recently shared this image from a SCM session, as I was interested to put a quote to the piece. I discovered the quote some days after in reading a book entitled "Mary Magdalene Revealled" (by Megan Watterson) of which Barbara was reading and showed me some quotes related to fear in the soul/archetypal register of experience. So, here is the quote that I found and immediately. It seemed like a 'response' to the painting and how it was shared that night on Zoom. 

Watterson wrote in a poetic-trance like 'prayer':

"IF I could start again, it would be in the darkness. 

And in the darkness, all we would see is a hand suddenly extending out toward us.

And the invitation would be terrifying. 

Seeing this hand would compel our heart to start beating....

The fear comes from feeling out of control. 

We want to leave and we want to stay in equal measure.

We want to know what might happen next and for everything to remain exactly the same. 

Taking this hand is a choice to surrender." (p. 13) 


Amaris replied to the quote: 

"This is an absolutely incredible gift...It captures the feeling that I had while painted--fear and rebirth, including moving through fear and lack of control within the internal space. Fear that holds immobile in stasis but can give way to room for creation and joy. Thank you so much. 

When I mentioned I wanted to publish their creation, they wrote, "I would love to read a blog about art and fear. These are themes that resonate with me very much, especially as it relates to phobia of one's inner experience. Art has been such a part of that personal exploration for me regarding this fear."


I suggest anyone reading this, take time also to be with the creation--and imagine its creating--itself. Wet and unabashedly a singularity of flow and ecstasy, and of course, with all birthing there is fear, perhaps terror, perhaps many sensations and feelings that only later we conceptualize as terror. The painting itself is important also as a process, not merely for Amaris, as she connects memories and investigates the "phobia of one's inner experience"--as she wrote of it later. It is important collectively, and that is significant for the group of SCM with it happening. What an interesting phrase that is. Like their painting emerging, a phobia is emerging to the light, with all the attention of the creator/artist entering into the unknown and unexpected that began with a paper with 'nothing' on it and then the materials and water and colors and rhythms became alive, like a "surrender" --and, ultimately this creation process is still going on, and is now going on in this digital medium of a blog.

I share this all because of the art itself and the process of SCM which I highly recommend as a practice of liberation--and, yes, I also share this 'story' because it challenges what Alan Watts wrote of (Zen style) in the 1970s in a book, I always enjoy going back to, "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are." In oppressive societies that 'shut down' early in our lives the full re-membering of the matrixial (mother-child-birthing)--and deny its true importance to our being on this planet in a body--I think arts-expressive modalities are a tremendous gift to 'touch' again the rich sensory experiences of who we really are--embodied that is, and yes, for us to stand back and feel the "room for creation and joy" as Amaris says. 

So many layers of interpreting and being/with are possible here... I am mostly aware of the power and healing that comes from wit(h)nessing, as Bracha Ettinger speaks of it and when 'more than one attends the fear' and re-births the fear--as communal practice in a sanctuary of art-care. My acknowledgement of gratitude to Amaris for sharing this with us. 

Thanks be, to Creation. 





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Christine Breese, Ph.D., University of Metaphysical Sciences, and from Wisdom of the Heart Church (non-profit 501(c)3), offered in 2011 a free book entitled: 

"Fearlessness In the 2012 Paradigm Shift" (here is free copy in pdf.

I have not read too much detail but scanned her Table of Contents --and it is interesting for sure. A few highlights: "Paradigms Are Built to Fight Change, It's Natural" and "Hypnosis in Fear For The Masses" and Chapter 5 "Facing Fear" and "What Does a Fearless Life Look Like?" 

Those are all topics that interest me a lot as a fearologist. I'm writing my own book now on The Fear Problematique, and a core of what I need to articulate is the importance of what a Fearlessness Paradigm, contra a Fear Paradigm is all about. And, then link that to a fearlessness philosophy and theories and finally to education as a field. 

Anyways, you folks may want to check out her book here. It's historical of course, that 10 years ago there was a lot of 'new age' hype, especially in the astrological and metaphysical communities about some critical juncture of alignments and ancient Mayan calendars, etc... whereby, a "quantum leap" in the evolution of consciousness and humanity was being predicted--albeit, Breese admits in the book apparently, one cannot ever totally predict such things in terms of when--yet, there is a transformation going on she asserts, along with many others. And, I have been hearing about this since at least the early 1980s--and, especially with another big celestial and astrological event in 1987, of which I found so many new ager types of folks way too optimistic about what was going to happen at that juncture on a particular day, etc. I think the evidence is clear that these people exaggerate things yet, I am also not one to put them down for their enthusiasm generally for the need to transform the paradigms of the day. I like that Breese in particular has identified "fear" and "fearlessness" as significant vectors for this transformation. I agree!. 



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Aesthetic Way of Expanding the Study of Fear


I've long been a believer that artists, and the aesthetic mode of thinking, feeling, acting (that is, the arational) is a more effective way to change our fixed and overly-conditioned ways of thinking about anything--especially "fear" itself. So, in the above 'play' I situate two major concepts, and phenomena, and now they sit within a 'taoist' model or philosophical system of thought and imagination. I wonder what new could be discovered if this re-mapping of both Taoist philosophy and the understanding of fear in general could be adopted--as a thought experiment. So, if any of you want to try and play with it. I'd love to see what you come up with. 


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Trinity is Fearless: The Matrix Teachings



There are so many things one could say about this new film. I'll hold back for now, as I want to watch it a few more times before I write too much. However, there is a clear picture of the morphing notion of "The One" and what the latest movie Resurrections makes of it, with Trinity coming into her own--and, in fact women generally coming into their own to challenge the men characters and designers of The Matrix which controls human's lives (for the most part). The control pretty much declared throughout the four films since 1999 of The Matrix, as control via fear-- that is, when a fear choice is taken over a love choice. The enactment to reclaim the love choice, is however, made clear to me (at least) is about fearlessness--call it "fearless"--but it is fearlessness nonetheless--utter and shown as a harder choice (it seems) for women (and mothers) than for men. But, I'll let you all decide what dramatics are going on in this great piece of art--again, congrats to those who all made this latest film possible. I do trust the teachings from it will have more impact, 20 years later, in this self-reflective work with a critical edge. 

What are the Matrix teachings?, you may ask. They are, based on my study of this film series since 1999, a most poignant and deeply powerful set of "fearlessness teachings"--of the Fearlessness Movement--and, if viewers miss that, it's sad, but truly most people don't see the full depth in this art work project. It's profound. And it is available to learn from. 


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IT IS NOT VERY OFTEN I come across a really interesting paper on "fear", and this one by Bogun (2016), is extra-ordinarily interesting to my fearologist-self. 

I won't say more in this Intro blog, but will give you all a chance to look at it and chime in on Comments. Just to note: --scanning the paper, I see the major discouse (pattern, system) that is operating in Bogun as a philosopher very keen about fear and its role, is "FMS-5" (as "fearmap" or code-categorization of my schema)--and, to remind you there are 10 FMSs available to humans at this time, that I can identify categorically as an overall evolutionary theory of fear management systems (FMSs). But, I'll leave it there for now... 

Hope you have a glance at this first page, and realize this author (seemingly from Ukraine) is quite a fascinating scholar. It's my first encounter with them in the fear literature. 


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John Dewey on Fear and Binaries


The eminent early 20th century
American philosopher John Dewey... 

In this above quote, he is on his grand project (to restore "experience" to philosophy)--to debunk all binaries, so it seems. E.g., Life vs. Education, is a good place to start that deconstruction.

Then he goes on, in a passage analogously, where he critiques those that derogate the "lower" aspects of reality (so-called) vs. the "higher" aspects of reality (so-called) that have become so common by the 20 th century in philosophy, and education philosophy and psychology. He wrote of these sensory aspects: 

"Since sense-organs with their connected apparatus are the means of participation [with reality, with Life, with living organisms], any and every derogation of them, whether practical or theoretical, is at once effect and cause of a narrowed and dulled life-experience. Oppositions [i.e., binaries] of mind and body, soul and matter, spirit and flesh all have their origin, fundamentally, in fear of what life may--bring forth. They are marks of contraction and withdrawal [i.e., fear-based]." (Dewey, 1934, pp. 22-3). 

This is not the only passage I have been reading from Dewey, in my recent study of his writing, where I am reading into and between the lines, and sometimes reading explicit calling out of fear in our knowledge and knowing systems--like it is a massive weight on us and life-forces, it is like he is speaking a language of fearlessness. I'll be writing a chapter on his philosophy (fearlessness) and education for my new book The Fear Problematique (2022)... more  to come. 

[NOTE: for another of my FM blogs on Dewey and fear and fearlessness go to: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/holy-rant-john-s-dewey-s-fearlessness-project]



Dewey, J. (1934/2005). Art as Experience. Penguin Group.






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This 1960 classic free-school alternative book is about child-rearing and education. The organization begun by A. S. Neill and others in the UK was a "school" by definition and that was to serve a parent community who wanted their children to have an entirely different experience of learning in and as part of a living residential community. They remained a "school" in order to get some funding from the government, and to follow the curriculum requirements to some degree re: the State, because they still wanted to hire teachers and be able to mentor the students/learners to achieve what they wanted to achieve if they wanted to go on to access the channels of higher education, which some children chose, while many did not. There was no requirement ever that the child would be forced to attend lessons. It was their choice how they wanted to spend the day as long as they did not hurt themselves or others or damage the community's property. In that sense, Neill believed the only radical way to fully commit to building a new society not based on fear, was to build a community not based on fear.

Some of you may know that I have long studied the alternative education movements since my late 20s. I also was a public school teacher for two years. All these experiences have led me to now working in a burgeoning new school, Nanaimo Innovation Academy (NIA), which started as a daycare (for 4 years) and is now a kindergarten, with a proposed grade 1-2 class starting this next fall in 2022 if all permits are granted and the parents show up to support our non-profit private school operation. My role thus far is "policy consultant", albeit, I have also just completed a five months artist residency at NIA where I worked from an artist's point of view, which included working with all members of the community in some way--I was interested in the whole organization and larger community and "everything was my medium" for artistic expression and exchange with all involved. I'm doing upcoming artist talks and websites on this project which I shall let you know about later. I had some lovely and interesting and not so pleasant interactions at times with my "medium" as one would expect in any community. But one of the things in the back of my mind during the residency was "How do we all deal with fear?" 

NIA founder and Director, Keely Freeman has been gracious in allowing me to slowly integrate and find my way into this new school community. She is someone very practical and in that sense not overly radical in her approach to a daycare/school culture, yet, at a recent staff meeting she held up this book by A. S. Neill, and said, with pride that this means a lot to her to be part of a legacy of trying to bring 'alternative education' to children and families in this world. I was touched. So, I'm starting to look at what might we at NIA glean from the "Summerhill" experiment in child-raising and education today. Note, several Summerhill-type schools have grown from the original movement started in the UK. A. S. Neill is no longer with us but has left a powerful message of possibilities and this book he wrote about his experiment in 1920s- onward is worth reading. I'm just allowing myself to dip into it and see what I think about it. As my first reading about Summerhill was back in the early 1980s and then late 1990s a bit but I didn't go further. I was aware of several educators as critics publishing about Summerhill and giving it a bad name in those years. I have not made up my own mind about that aspect of how good it was or bad it was empirically. That's really hard to assess.

As I turn to begin a brief fearanalysis of Neill's philosophy, I realize neither Neill and the faculty and parents may not have written and published or talked much about a "fearless school" that was their ideal for themselves, and as a model for the rest of society. I do sense they wanted to show society that it was possible and their school was an experimental case study. So, it was not perfect and they worked out a lot of the kinks in their system and culture by learning as they went. That is admirable. IF I was starting a school today, I would want to do the same. However, it is near impossible to find enough parents in the world where I live to be truly interested in entering into such a community and school experiment. People are way more freaked out these days, and thus more conformist, than the 1960s-70s, and maybe also compared to the 1920s when A. S. Neill began the Summerhill experiment. 

I find parents and teachers and just about all leaders very much caught in the "culture of fear" overall. This is a global cultural phenomenon I have written about extensively for over 3 decades. Education if it is to remain in its integrity (and much in line with a free-schooling conception as A. S. Neill argued for), is going to have to confront its relationship (i.e., its collusion with) the growing insidious culture of fear. 

Fearanalysis has many possible directions of starting to assess anyone or anything. For simplicity, I scanned the back chapters of the classic book by Neill (above), and saw on page after page of how he responds to many of the questions that came to him as founder of Summerhill, he often was talking in his answers to the issue of fear. In fact, I believe he was doing that because most of the questions he received, often had fear at their base of motivation for being asked. For example, the questions about the freedom of children and youth in the Summerhill community to have access to sex. Neill, answers, they are as an organization and school not telling kids not to have sex, not to masturbate. All humans have a right to enjoy the sexuality of their bodies alone or with others, and Neill is not at all interested in creating taboos and rules about that. He wanted to raise children who were not afraid of adults and/or the laws and authority of adultworld in general. What was truly educative for him, and I agree, is when educative experience transcends the dependency socialization of young people based on fear-induction-learning (or "shock learning" via punishment regimines). "Control" is such a tricky concept and Neill wanted as least amount of it as possible in regard to what children feel, think and do. Adults/parents/caregivers can be children's worst enemy, he would likely have argued, and I hear that as I scan the pages of his book and the answers to his questions. I and some others have called this adult-child relationship one that is riddled with adultism, oppression in one of its base forms, from the start--it is part of a culture of fear dynamic. I won't go into more details in this blogpost but if you are interested in more quotes and details from the book and want more discussion, I'll do so. Just post comments below, or sign-up or sign-in on the FM ning and write your own blogposts. 

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Bertrand Russell (1926) on Fear and Fearless

Bertrand Russell, the great UK philosopher, wrote a 1926 book "On Education" with implications for especially early childhood rearing, socialization and education (e.g., schooling). Interestingly, I am just reading this for the first time, and I see some really good signs that this will be a useful book in the history of Fear Studies, and especially the history of fear in educational philosophy. 

Russell has evoked me several times to quote him (from this book), especially his line around wisdom and fear, and around fearless mothers and fearless children as well. For purposes of this blog, I want to focus on why he thought love and fear were so crucial to child rearing and society's health in general. He ends his book with "A thousand ancient fears obstruct the road to happiness and freedom." (p. 206) During the book he makes a distinction that irrational fears are the biggest problem, rational fears are important--albeit, a big problem can come when a child, for example, has not the adequate rational fears online and operative and that puts the child at risk to dangers it normally would rationally be afraid of. He talks about his wife and him trying out many of these things about fear management with their own two children in the earliest years 1-4 yr olds. 

Again, on the final paragraph of the book he wrote, "But love can conquer fear, and if we love our children nothing can make us withold the great gift which is is in our power to bestow." (p. 206). One has to realize that Russell was a secularist-humanist philosopher, yet, here he is articulating what all the great spiritual/religious teachings also argue as a basic premise/theory about love and fear. That's a whole topic for study itself. Is this true, that love can conquer fear? What does conquer mean? On p. 71 he describes how an irrational fear in children (or anyone) ought to not be left alone to just disappear or skirt around too much. Russell says it "should be gradually overcome" as an important aspect of healthy developmental growth and learning. "Overcome" as a behavioral and emotional aspect, seems to be what Russell means by "conquer" in other parts of his text. 

In helping his own children to overcome fear(s), Russell tells us at one point, controversial I am sure it will be: "A grown-up [e.g., parent, teacher] person in charge of a child should never feel fear" --meaning, express it it in front of a child and when trying to teach a child to have mild rational fear of a potential danger the child needs to learn about (e.g., like a sharp knife edge, or cliff edge). Now, if an adult around a child is to be fully responsible for the best interests and growth and learning for a child, and to make them feel loved and not afraid of the world around them too much, then Russell argues it is best to "never feel" or express fear in your teaching children lessons or warnings. I tend to agree with this because of the unpredictable (if not traumatic) ways a child may take in the concrete message from the adult but also the affect-tracing lingerings of the adult into their emotional (if not soul level) aspects of their being. Adults have that kind of powerful impact potential on children's psyche/soul, is my claim, and many others but here we see Russell the philosopher (and father) saying the same thing. His cautionary goes on to say: " That is one reason why courage should be cultivated in women just as much as in men." (p. 72). There's a few arguments he makes later in the book about the sexes and the dynamics of fear and timidity, etc. He wants both sexes to be hardy and courageous --and even fearless. Again, he focuses at times on women's major role here in child development of fearlessness: 

"One generation of fearless women could transform the world...by bringing into it a generation of fearless children".... and "Education is the key" to this accomplishment. On my part, that is true and is exactly why I offer an upgraded theory and praxis called critical Fear Management/Education or simply Fear Education for the 21st century. Russell's philosophy of education, it turns out, is very supportive of my initiative. 

Anyone have some thoughts about all this?


Russell, B. (1926/2003). On education. Routledge.






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Libertà, libertà va cercando...


The pandemic period has accelerated a cultural process that produces social fragmentation and a transformation of values. Fear pushes people to close in on themselves, to look after individual and group interests, driven by a misunderstanding of the meaning of freedom and democracy. It must be understood that one's own interest as an individual citizen is realised in the community: courageously accepting a social policy does not mean losing one's freedom - Life, sic! - but increasing the potential to achieve objectives that benefit everyone.


Il periodo di pandemia ha accelerato un processo culturale che produce frammentazione sociale e trasformazione dei valori. La paura spinge i soggetti alla chiusura in sé, alla cura degli interessi individuali e di categoria, spinti da un’errata comprensione del senso di libertà e democrazia. Occorre comprendere che il proprio interesse di singolo cittadino si realizza nella collettività: accettare con coraggio una politica sociale non significa perdere la propria libertà – la Vita, sic! – ma aumentare le potenzialità per realizzare obbiettivi che favoriscano tutti.

A fine ottobre, a Novara in Piemonte, abbiamo assistito alla protesta di un gruppo di no-vax che si atteggiavano a deportati, indossavano divise a strisce con la stella, riproponendo nella memoria di tutti il genocidio degli ebrei.

Poche ore dopo, ad Anguillara in Veneto, l’amministrazione pubblica attribuiva al presidente brasiliano Bolsonaro, in visita in Italia per il G20, la cittadinanza onoraria.

I due avvenimenti sembrerebbero non avere nulla in comune, ma sono la rappresentazione plastica di come la politica, condivisione di pensieri e obbiettivi con la parola, stia determinando una divaricazione sempre più profonda tra i cittadini.

Dal dopoguerra alla caduta del muro di Berlino il mondo occidentale ha discusso generalmente sulla modalità di gestione degli interessi per definire quali fossero prioritari, pubblici o privati. Il confronto tra i modelli – liberista e comunista – si traduceva sostanzialmente nell’interpretazione economicistica del sistema sociale e sui limiti di azione dello Stato. Entrambi gli schieramenti presupponevano una base di condivisione etica quale il rispetto della vita, il pluralismo, l’eguaglianza e la tolleranza. La condanna universale della shoah rappresentava il presupposto dell’ecumenismo laico della nostra contemporaneità: dal rispetto della Vita si è poi sviluppata la comunicazione/comprensione/condivisione tra i popoli, da cui in seguito nasceva l’Unione Europea e globalizzazione.

Nell’occidente, in Italia, da più di un decennio stiamo assistendo a una divergenza che non investe più il piano economico-gestionale, discusso in prospettiva di interessi plausibili, ma che investe i valori – gli "eidos" in senso husserliano, la struttura invariante della realtà - sostrato dello stare insieme, i presupposti non solo della democrazia ma anche del dialogo. A parere di chi scrive, tali valori sono costantemente minati da una volontà di ridefinizione della cultura fondativa dell’occidente – forse Spengler parlerebbe di passaggio da Kultur a Zivilisation -.

Torniamo agli eventi di cronaca di questi giorni. Con le loro sfilate, i pochi contestatori del vaccino - in Italia l’85% è vaccinato - non solo mettono in subbuglio i centri cittadini con manifestazioni non autorizzate, ma pretendono di assurgere al ruolo di minoranza abusata da un governo liberticida. I no-vax al grido di "libertà, libertà" vogliono la propria indipendenza dalle regole, paventando che sia la minoranza a dettare le leggi come nel caso dei portuali triestini – eppure, anche la maggioranza deve assumere le norme in modo prudente, onde evirare di essere tacciata di dispotismo, di "dittatura della maggioranza" per dirla con De Tocqueville-. Parallelamente, il presidente Bolsonaro, sulla scia iperliberista impegnata a non far recedere l’economia a dispetto della pandemia, ha blaterato il suo negazionismo disattendendo all’impegno di salvaguardare la vita dei suoi cittadini, com’è proprio del suo ruolo. E mentre il senato brasiliano mette sotto accusa per crimini contro l’umanità il suo presidente, la solerzia partigiana della giunta di Anguillara ne fa il suo campione, consegnandogli le chiavi della città. In tale strano ribaltamento valoriale, Bolsonaro diventa la vittima, l’incompreso, il vate di una posizione culturale soverchiata, il dissidente che promuove la libertà a cui si vuole togliere la parola con una violenza mascherata da giustizia.

Il campionario di situazioni di cronaca per le quali assistiamo alla dismissione dell’etica contemporanea offre innumerevoli esempi: la mancanza di deontologia del medico antiscientista che dichiara in un comizio che il "vaccino è veleno"; la presunzione del collaboratore scolastico che, messo a discutere col virologo nel salotto televisivo, risulta portatore di sapere alternativo;  l’ufficiale di polizia che, nelle ore libere dal lavoro, incita alla resistenza i manifestanti, contro i suoi colleghi; il politico, il generale, il giudice arruffapopoli contro lo Stato benché abbiano giurato sulla Costituzione; last but not least,  c’è sempre quel presidente che esalta la piazza invitandola all’assalto del suo parlamento! 

Tale modalità di vestire e comunicare la Libertà si nutre dell’arroganza dell’individualismo della morale, della presunzione di ognuno di essere portatore di valori assoluti che devono essere forzosamente consegnati alla gente; siccome sono verità, devono essere propagandati con ogni mezzo, affinché realizzino un proselitismo che costruisca una forza politica per sovvertire lo status quo normativo e promuova forzosamente un paradigma che fondi una nuova civiltà. 

Tale comunicazione divisiva, protesa a definire nuovi modelli valoriali, non rinuncia all’utilizzo delle vecchie categorie, ammantandole di significato a sé conveniente: l’autorevolezza dei ruoli sociali, in quanto gerarchia sedimentata da una cultura classica, viene posta al servizio di una ideologia personalistica; la storia e i simboli consolidati sono revisionati per favorire interessi di parte; la fiducia – il valore più antico che l’uomo ha abbracciato – viene coartata per costruire un cieco e autolesionistico proselitismo.

Libertà "libertà va cercando, ch’è sì cara, come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta" (Dante, Purgatorio, c. I, vv. 70-72).

A ben pensarci, è un po’ l’operazione che fece Goebbels il quale mosse le sue folle al grido 'libertà, libertà': intendeva però solo quella dei tedeschi, infischiandosene degli altri popoli europei.


Foto: la manifestazione no-vax di Novara, Piemonte, Italia, del 30 ottobre 2021 www.dire.it 

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Dr. Darcia Narvaez on Fear


Dr. Darcia Narvaez, psychologist of child development, the evolutionary nest concept, and moral development. She comes at the ways to better understand what is human nature and healthy development from an evolutionary and neurobiological, psychological, anthropological and Indigenous worldview lens. This interdisciplinary thinker was recently giving a presentation and having a discussion with the gift economy (motherer) experts, and at one point she starts to talk about "fear" per se and how difficult it is to make the shift to a feminine-based gift economy and new paradigm of holistic health and sustainable sanity. 

She says, "There's a lot of people who are afraid in the United States, and when you are afraid it can lead you into directions that are good or not so good...not so helpful. So, I think getting through the fear is something...the fear of pain I think...if we suffered as a young child our...it's in our body, our body remembers the trauma, the pain and we don't want to go back there, we have some resistance to it....we need ways to help people not be so afraid of feeling the pain, because once you feel the pain it's actually quite liberating...it wasn't so bad. People go to therapy for this." [she then says once we do this a few times] "a whole new life [is possible], it's like being reborn. [to help people through pain and fear we have a responsibility of] "reassuring people that you can pass through this...primal wounds...you pull them off, and its painful at the moment at the time, but then once you pull them off you can be yourself...unlock your heart." [I takes a lot of support from others too]. 

Then she concludes with a hope she has: "Hopefully, somebody out there is going to come up with...a great way to help people get through the fear." 


My quick comments are critiques of this explication and hope Dr. Narvaez offers, although, in basic idea and with experiences, she is talking of the truth, I have no doubt. It is just that her discourse on fear management here is so conformist and 'normal' as to be nothing outside of the domination worldview and paradigm basically. There are so many who have offered the same advice as she and the same hope as she. I was really looking for something more radical from her in this discussion especially in light of being in conversation on the radical shift of an exchange (capitalist) paradigm to a gifting paradigm that was the theme of the entire conversation. But what this shows me is that even the radical gift economy types have not yet got "fear" figured out or configured out is more accurate. They have no radical vision of a new paradigm of fear management/education. Sadly, I have seen this also in the feminist movement, and most spiritual movements, etc. over the decades. The thinking about fear is still back in the old paradigm (what Narvaez herself is concerned about and has critiqued in part as "colonized psychology") they wish to leave and transform and so on. The fear thinking hasn't changed and they don't seem to look at the literature that is out there on new 'Fear' Studies and Fearlessness Paradigm.

In particular, one can recognize the same "individualist" psychology and morality within Narvaez's discourse that she falls back on, basically a kind of existential modernist philosophy, and practicality, because she says we really need to deal with fear differently in our society--okay, that's great--and yet, her answer to that fear problem is her immediate default to talk about "fears" (i.e., she mentions the core "fear of pain" problem)--and she then proceeds her diagnostic and prescriptions from there. As I said, there is nothing new paradigm at all about that, even if she is offering a weak medicine better than not for fear management. 

Narvaez, defaults into her trained psychological and rather individualistic mind re: fear discouse. Even though, all her research is on interdisciplinary studies and community and social relationality as so important in the healthy development of humans and ecosystems etc. Her actual knowledge and theorizing on fear is however individualistic and typical of the modernist paradigm and of patriarchy (more or less) itself. So, why(?), I ask, over all these years of her knowing my work on fear and fearlessness, and knowing I am a fearologist with a transdisciplinary lens I bring radically to the topic of fear management/education, has she not engaged directly with my work with any depth and understanding [1], if she is saying that "fear" is one of the most important factors in a human beings life and a society (e.g., the USA)? Why has she thrown out a hope that "somebody out there" is going to find a solution to the fear problem--and, she is like waiting or something(?). That amazes me she seems dissociated from the vast literature and my work (including Four Arrows' work) on fear ('fear'), fearism, fearlessness, etc. I have found that she is like so many. There is a denial/blindness still operating even in the most sophisticated and mature academics and professionals in general (Dr. Narvaez is top-notch and very wise in my opinion)--and, "psychologists" have continually shown to be in this state of learning and training that they cannot receive the vast wisdom out there on fear already available. There is no need to hope for someone to come along with a magic bullet, Dr. Narvaez, there is only an opportunity and willingness to actually engage and study what is available already and then apply it sincerely. 

So, my first agenda as a fearologist has always been to question and critique the very way we (especially psychologists) frame the discourse on fear itself, never mind trying to figure out which fears are most important (e.g., fear of pain, or fear of death), etc. Dr. Narvaez, and the rest of you, still hoping... why don't you consult with a fearologist, for starters and go from there? The "why" they don't do this, is critically important. I have suggested in my latest book it is because of a "resistance to fearlessness" [2] built deeply into the self-social-political fabric of how people are perceiving the world's problems and the answers to its problems. I actually sent that new book to her upon her request so she might write a book review, of which she has not done so, nor shared anything with me about my book and her reading it. Instead, she "hopes" there is some one out there who will make a silver bullet. I think her troubling view expressed in the above discussion is that she herself in my opinion, is still caught in the "colonized psychology" she is critiquing. It is not anyone's fault per se that our fear management/education discourses (at least, in the W. world) are so unhelpful. 


1. Granted she did engage somewhat in a Psychology Today blog some years ago, supporting Four Arrows' and my work on fear and fearlessness; go to: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/moral-landscapes/201801/stories-heal-primal-wounds

2. Fisher, R. M., and Kumar, B. M. (2021). Resistances to fearlessness. Xlibris. 


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Beauty and Order: Ugly and Distress (Fear)


"The Uses of Beauty and Order" (a 13 pp booklet) by the founder of Re-evaluation Counseling (Harvey Jackins) came out in 1972 and talks of the "environmental crisis" facing human beings and that we are responsible to "clean up" [1] our messes... meaning, not only the physical 'garbage' we 'dump' but on the inside 'distress' ('garbage') we also hold inside our body/mind and social systems and institutions that function upon philosophical premises of oppression is 'normal' and that's the way it is. That's human nature for us to be violence, and dumping on each other, etc. Jackin's, peer-to-peer theory and praxis is a marvelous tool that I have used since the early 1980s, and am still using it as a way to not let my distress accumulate (as 'fear' patterning) in any ways, and mostly in ways that stop me from being a fully alive, creative being who is interested in beauty and order in the environment (inside and outside). That's why in this publication Jackin's argues: 

"With discharge [via peer counseling sessions] we can begin not only to realize but to act on the truth that every human being is gifted artistically, in the visual arts and in all others. In the meantime, it is perfectly possible to take a length of wire and bend it into an interesting shape, then mount this piece of wire sculpture in a prominent position. It's possible to take some torn pieces of tinted or colored paper and move them about on a sheet of cardboard until the arrangement pleases the arranger, glue them in place and, with such an 'abstract collage' mounted on the wall, be continually reminded of one's own ability to create beauty. A poem or verse which one has composed belongs in plain sight to be read and looked at. This will be another signal that one is a creative human being in charge of the environment [as a steward, and co-maker, co-participant in evolution itself]." (p. 12)

I recently am working on an art project with stones (a 1/2 dump truck load of them) which most people use only to "decorate" their landscapes and keep down weeds and grass from growing (as a suppressant). I am working with the stones in an artist residency right now to make them interesting, beautiful and even sacred... I just am learning how to do that with children at the daycare center and kindergarten school where I am artist in residence, and of course, then there is the difficult challenge to get the staff and parents and other adults around the children to 'attune' and 'resonate' with the words and direction of Jackin's (above)--and to playfull engage as part of their day in making art, and connecting with the art of the stones I am working on their premise. Mostly, the adults are quite in a "rut" from what I can see, and they can hardly gaze to the environment around them. Often they are on cell phones when they leave their car and walk to work, and often they have a preoccupied (if not worrying) mind about what they are doing and what is happening and how this or that is going to coordinate. They are managing their lives. This management paradigm is quite working in the opposite direction of a creative-artistic-aethetic paradigm.

As a fearologist and artist, what I am interested in is the role of fear/anxiety and how it shapes one's creativity, aliveness, and everything else in the environments we make, the relationship we engage in any moment in time. Too often, most all people are living lives feeling a "victim" (prisoner) of some kind, and often they are not aware they feel this but are just on 'autopilot' doing things that are functional and help to manage their day. Jackins' experience is that human beings who have been hurt and not fully allowed to heal their hurts from birth onward, are carrying distress-based (fear-based) patterning in their nervous system and memory systems, and when that accumulates there is a sense after awhile of feeling like the environment is "hostile" (more or less) and one has to try to survive within it--but for Jackins, like myself, the hostile perception (as a fear projection and defense mechanism) can become quite distorted and totalizing of one's inherent being and destroys the best part of our human nature. This is, says Jackins, due to "past fears of isolated groups of human beings in danger from weather, disease or other hostile forces" but his point is, that within a healing culture (practices) such dangers/fears can be healed through adequately so that humans do not carry around trauma (unhealed painful memories) for any length of time beyond what is necessary. The past thus, when unhealed, turns to dominate our nervous systems and thinking patterns, we 'become our distress' (i.e., our fear patterning). We feel victimized. We then justify our behaviors that come from fear-based (distress-based) sourcing. We even justify that it is okay we oppress others and accept our social oppression because that's the way it is--the world is hostile, etc. 

Fearlessness as a paradigm is quite in the opposite direction of this fear-based paradigm of victimization and oppressive patterning. Thus uses of beauty and order making (healthy creativity to enhance one's world individually and collectively) is a way to stay in "present time" reality (says Jackins), and that leads to a greater humanity and care for everything to follow from that. Arts and aesthetics, are critical to good fear management/education. 

Your thoughts? 


1. To be clear, I use "clean up" in this context within a sophisticated therapeutic philosophia (or therapia) based on many traditions but in particular I most recommend the theorizing of integral philosopher Ken Wilber on "Cleaning Up" as one of four calls to come to full consciousness and attention in the best way humans are potentially able--and, such a mode of "cleaning up" is not just some psychological clinical, homogenizing, white-washing, or purification schema of a germophobia, xenophobia, paranoia about Nature--no, I and Wilber are talking about something very different and you may wish to read his writing on "Cleaning Up" in this larger transpersonal and evolutionary perspective; see Wilber (2017), pp. 11, 75, 264-66, for e.g. (also see his writing on the analogous process of "shadow work"). Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow: A vision for the future of the Great Traditions--more inclusive, more comprehensive, more complete. Shambhala. 


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Fear is Social, in a New Key: Video by RMF


Check out my new video on my new book "sketch" and possibilities and how I am influenced in thinking about educational philosophy in a new key--from many new perspectives (transdsciplinary) etc. See my teaching video just put up now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6H6rpQlZ60

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Once again, in "Comments" on the previous blog post by Michael Eneyo, a philosopher of fear from Nigeria, FM ning readers can read his interpretation of my "Comment" on his blogposting--in particular that he posted of Ben's analysis of Eneyo's new book. 

I say once again, because Eneyo comments (critiques) my commentary respectfully, which I appreciate, yet misses central aspects of my work on a fearlessness theory (since 1989). His interpretation continues, I say, once again, to mis-interpret basics of my position. He does get some parts of my work, but major aspects he mis-interprets quite in the wrong direction and thus there is nothing to debate him on because of his insistence on his critique. 

I say once again, because our contentions have been rooted in various exchanges going back near 3 yrs or so. And a culmination of exchanges was summarized in our exchange, via Eneyo (2020) and my Response to his Rejoinder (Fisher, 2020) [1]; and, so I am not going to spend more time on the same issues Eneyo keeps reproducing about my work that skew it because of his reading of core aspects of my theory. I recommend readers interested follow-up on your own reading of our exchanges in the above journal articles. And may readers feel free to post their thoughts on the FM ning. 

Once again, in the Comment of Eneyo in this latest FM ning exchange, he repeats that I am avoiding, ignoring, or trying to go around negative fear and only want to keep positive fear, unlike his binarist position he claims that we need both to have good philosophy, theory, practice. Nothing could be further from the truth of my position which in the late 1980s began with my reading of Rinpoche Chogyam Trungpa (Tibetan Buddhist teacher) and a reading I most respected called Chapter 4 "Fear and Fearlessness" from the ancient wisdom teachings of Tibetan Buddhism--and, so I'll quote Trungpa who (like Krishnamurti) teach that any fear (whether we assign it negative or positive) is important and not to be avoided, slipped around, or to be eliminated in some absolute intervention-- rather, both they and myself teach to what is most important is to learn from fear and learn from the ways we think about it that may in fact trap us in its grip in very limiting if not pathological ways (e.g., as 'fear' patterning). I'll admit that my work has gone way beyond Trungpa and Krishnamurti in its postmodern (and post-postmodern, integral) constructions since the late 1980s [2], yet, I am assuring readers who see otherwise, that I am not at all trying to avoid fear via fearlessness or anything else. I call for a fear management/education (full curriculum from kindergarten to university level as compulsory fear education actually). So, here is Trungpa's quote, I'll leave you all with to see also where my original and core premise starts from: 

Trungpa wrote:  "Acknowledging fear is not a cause of depression or discouragement. Because we posses such fear, we also are potentially entitled to experience fearlessness. True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear." (p. 33) [3]


1. Eneyo (2020) and Fisher (2020) see International Journal of Fear Studies, 2 (1) pp. 49-63. 

2. Where Trungpa and Krishnamurti and others (like Eneyo) are not thinkers in full alignment with my work, is mainly because they have not constructed in their theories anything (virtually) beyond a psychological or psycho-spiritual framework for understanding fear. I am much more a cultural theorist than they (see my teaching video on "fear is social" and fearlessness theory of late https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyKwoFJb9UE) and thus 'fear' is essential to my work, and it differentiates from fear (as normally understood in the psychological domain of knowing). Again, you can read my many works on cultural 'fear' patterning and the theory of healing, fearlessness, and transformation behind it and in counter-hegemony to 'fear' patterning (or 'Fear' Project). 

3. Trungpa, C. (1984/2007). Shambhala: The sacred path of the warrior. Shambhala Publications.


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Gender Dualism and Fear


I have been having conversations with Dr. Teich for a few years now, off and on. Recently, we are collaborating on his SolarLunar Arts venture to create 21st century curriculum materials (e.g., movies, 3-D and virtual reality games, etc.) to enable people to understand the 'old worldview' of gender separation (which became dissociation) in many cultures, especially the W. world. This has been a disaster, he argues... and, he and I agree, it is a major dualism that brings so much unnecessary fear-based thinking into the world--and, a lot of destruction with it. He presents archetypal ancient "Twin" myths and symbols that have long been part of humanity, which emphasize the more 'harmony' of opposites via complementarity principle...

I thought I would share from his 2012 book (image above) a short excerpt (pp. 47-8)--on these two modes of consciousness: 




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