fear education (13)



What you see above is some of the major points of which Marianne Williamson is running her presidential campaign 2024 (as Dem.) in terms of a Department of Children & Youth and her stated priority to be "mothers and children" in America, as extremely important foundations for a healthy society. I don't disagree. However, you may note that Williamson's platform is not listing that there should be a good quality "fear education" --nope, she is rather talking about all children getting "mindfulness training in schools"--and, this is very short-sighted, although it sounds good at first pass. Also, the caring interest in trauma is there. But truly MW has not thought deeply enough to see that at the base of the problem is a Fear Problem, a "culture of fear" which is the meta-context for all the things she wants to fix about mothering, child rearing and care, etc. Sorry, MW needs a fearanalyst (and educator) on her staff team really quickly. 

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Over the 34 years studying the way people perceive, think, talk, teach and preach about fear (and fearlessness), has led me to many conclusions, hypotheses, theories and a philosophy around this topic. It has never ceased to amaze me how difficult it is to find people who really want to learn something fresh and new about fear (and, typically, concomitantly that means they are likewise not very interested to learn anything new or fresh about fearlessness or fearless). 

Basically, it is not their fault they are so unwilling and uninterested to learn anew and to even transform their thinking and imaginaries about the nature and role of fear (and fearlessness). What I see over and over, generally, is their fixing in on some fav definition and conceptualization or even a theory or implicit philosophy that has grown. They have adopted such a philosophy and they teach it with such confidence. 

On one level, you'd think as an educator and human potential advocate that I would be happy that people learn anything about fear and then teach it confidently. You'd think. But that's where the subtlety comes in and disrupts what might be my easy default position to take on individuality and human expression and opinion. I am all for such a beginning of that individual attitude and teaching, even preaching, as long as it is not oppressive and "demanding" (as Yahweh recently uttered on their post here)--but that alone, that free speech agenda, and tolerance, is not what makes a systematic study and learning about fear happen. No, it will not go far. 

That limitation is part of why I began the Fearlessness Movement and its mission "to better understand..." (that's exactly what this website is about)-- and, I'll leave you all with the educative challenge as a community of learners to really look at our self, our conditioning, without blame and attack or loathing, without fear that we are doing something wrong IF we are not so confident in preaching about fear. Good intentions to give advice about fear, a mainstay, of the teacher or preacher, is often a shallow pattern of knowledge pretending to be way more than it is because the intentions of goodness and helping are seen by the individual as their motivation for "sharing." 

True fearlessness work, as a path of learning and transformation, requires so much more than that "sharing"--I guess that's my main intervening point in this short blog. After 34 years of fear study, I can tell you, and I publish on this all the time, there is less confidence I know what I am talking about or even preaching about. 

One of the things that regularly disturbs me in the common discourses that have shaped people's minds, is they think they know what not only "fear" is all about but they utter the term "fearless" or even "fearlessness" as if they know exactly what that is. Maybe they do, in their own minds. But I ask, what theory of fear(lessness) are you utilizing to make your truth claims, your offerings of advice and your expressions? I am not saying here nor have I ever said, "stop sharing people because you don't know enough" and I am not saying either "you should listen to me because I know better." That said, some will definitely interpret that is what I am saying and publishing about in my work. 

The nuances of my points above, could be debated, and I'm glad to do so as part of the learning here on this FM ning. To offer but the most basic outline of a "theory" and a good deal of how I think about these topics, go to my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century" (2010). That publication is one of many of mine. It also lists hundreds of references I have looked at and suggests where you can learn more about these topics. To end here, my short thesis in that book (based on 20 years of research) is that "fearless" is quite completely misunderstood by most people and "fearlessness" is even less understood. I create an integral developmental theory (from a fearlessness perspective) in that book. The theory says that we need to speak much more carefully about our ideas re: fear and how we manage it and educate ourselves and others around it. I call for a new improved and critical Fear Education 101. 

My basic developmental (evolutionary) theory of fear (management) goes through several distinct (albeit, overlapping) phases or stages--each with its own particular intelligence and adaptive strategies to manage fear:

Stage 1 - No Fear,

Stage 2 - Bravery,

Stage 3- Courage(ous),

Stage 4 - Fear Less,

---------------'Fear' Barrier (abyss) ----------

Stage 5 - Fearlessness

Stage 6 - Fearless.

I ask people to look at the data, the arguments, the references, the logic and the intuitions behind why I have used this language and these categories. I want to upgrade our poor fear education generally to get it up to snuff with the 21st century demands upon us as a species. 

Let's learn more together! 




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 I/we have been preparing for your birth. I stand in awe and anticipation of this mystery that is unfolding. A spectrum of fear studies seems to be touching into the essence of the Fearlessness movement, I do believe.

wrote, Janet Sheppard, July 18, 2018 responding to TFI. 

Some of you may know, or not, that since 2018 I had founded The Fearology Institute (TFI) as another of my string of venture possibilities to get the fire lit beneath people to take seriously that we have to better figure out a relationship with Fear if we ever want to help this world get out of the ditch it has been riding and crashing in for many many years. Of course, some will say just add Love (some say, Courage) to the world and it will improve. Philosophically, that Love to be really effective has to be dialectically also based on not just good intentions but a really deep study and education in Fear. 

So, founding The Fearology Institute was one way, my latest venture, to attempt to offer a university grade education, for starters, in Fearology--which is the foundational basis of a systematic study of the nature and role of fear in human evolution. Fearology = the study of fear in relation to life. So, that's the simple definition but then things get really complex as one deep dives into that topic and takes seriously that fearology ought to be as familiar and prevalent in its impacts as biology, psychology or any other disciplined way of researching and understanding something about reality--about ourselves. For a quick overview of TFI program, see my latest talk on it in some detail at: Becoming a Fearologist

[Note: the 3 streams of TFI originally: (a) scholarly and research, (b) professional development, (c) activism; and, a 4th and 5th I would like to add in this new iteration of TFI is (d) parents/caregivers and (e) students/learners. 

That's how important Fear is as a topic, subject--and, yes, it is equally all about ourselves--about our own psyche, and collective psyche and our own social-cultural self, our conditioning, our entrancements in the malaise of politics, economics, our worldviews, and all aspects of living today and how are we going to live in the future in a sane, healthy and sustainable way.

Fearology is a 'new' way to study this all and yes, it ought to be legitimated as just as important as any other study. It ought to be in all highschool curriculum as an option, it ought to have diploma and degree programs all over the world in post-secondary education. But even beyond that, it ought to be available also in popularized forms of education online, in our communities in many forms. You can see this is a huge project I envisioned. 

But reality is, since 2018, it has been a hard pitch to convince people of this need for humanity. I'm roused again, and again, to attempt to share it with folks and ask for support in getting this going--rubber hitting the pavement--and having a real impact. The diagram above is a screen shot from the resources page of what is available on "Fearology" that I have put together for years, to access those free documents and youtube channel presentations on fearology,

go to: https://prism.ucalgary.ca/discover?query=fearology

Let's keep on this topic and venture possibility, and have discussions, and see what is possible. Of course, you can also have critiques and pushback, etc., I am all open ears to this, when it is intended for correction and growth. I just know, that a great potential sits waiting for a world/consciousness/worldview ready to 'see' what I see--and, what is potentially a new field of study, profession and practice for those from all walks of life. Contact me: r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com 

The FM ning is also a good platform for discussion. If you search in the upper left box of the FM ning, "fearology" you will also find a whole lot of material on TFI and other fearology posts there. There's no shortage of readily (free) materials available to learn from and explore. I'm ready to lght the fire again, but I can't do it alone. 


"It is an important work...I'll share it on social media." - Desh Subba, Founder of Philosophy of Fearism



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Excerpt p. 245, from 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/Rowman & Littlefield. 

The above last chapter of that book, now 10 years old, is still my foremost vision and purpose in everything I do. 


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R. Michael Fisher, Director, Instructor, The Fearology Institute... is looking for a new cohort of students to take coursses and pursue a certificate in Fearology. Want to find out more about it, go to this new video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oisrTrOR2to

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Love and Fear: A Great Teaching Video

Wow... a great teaching video on Love vs. Fear ... this is based on Judaism teachings, but as a cartoon video animation it is fantastic, and has some great wisdom and thinking in it... you don't want to miss this, especially as it shows a "female" figure out-smarting the "male" figures on how each interprets fearmongering in situations that anyone can related to (like the workplace)... I highly recommend this for "Fear Education" curricula anywhere... (albeit, it is in English only, with strong Jewish accents)... go to the article and video: 


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I'm delighted to share with you a post-adult 45 yrs RMF 2019.pdf from a book on Integral Theory and Educational Research. This chapter overviews my 45 years learning/teaching career, my notion of post-adult education and more. There is one section (pp. 350) that I especially draw your attention to--which I'll quote in an excerpt here: 

"I was attempting then (and still am) to create an entirely new second-tier curriculum of fear education ..."  

"The leap was from a fear-based structure... to one that is no longer driven by fear as the primary motivator..." 

"I called a fearlessness curriculum and pedagogy where the very notion of 'critical thinking' and 'critical theory' needed to be deconstructed and reconstructed..." (p. 350)



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There's a lot of interest in therapeutic and neurobiology and medicine circles these days, and for a few years now [1], around what Stephen Porges has entitled "Polyvagal Theory." It refers to the vagus nerve (autonomic system) and its net of interacting nerves from brain to heart and heart to brain, and other central body organs. 

A lot of people interested in the neurobiology of fear and trauma have taken to this theory and psychotherapists and psychiatrists are particularly interested. I have not given the theory much attention yet. I am always reluctant to get on the new bandwagon of the science of fear researchers and their positivist empiricism that biases their theories of explaining fear (and 'fear'). It is typically too reductionistic in itself as explanation of such a complex phenomena as "fear." The fearologist prefers to think in holistic-integral deep and broad ways before explaining "fear." But if we are to pay attention to all dimensions of our bodies and minds and our history as a species, then neurobiology has something to offer. So, let me quickly say what I hear this theory is about, based on Porges' description in a video interview "Polyvagal Theory: How Your Body Makes the Decision." There are many videos, articles and books on this topic now a days and many professionals and theorists who put their own spin on it as well--not, to say Porges would likely agree with all the interpretations and uses per se. 

Porges explains an evolutionary theory of Defenses, that is, of systems that have developed and evolved over hundreds of millions of years in vertebrates, and in particular in mammals. A major shift went on, a kind of transformation of mega-proportions in the operation of the brain and nervous system from reptiles to mammals [2], he says. We as humans, the theory goes, are still hard-wired like our mammalian cousins in the past with the Defense system being one of the most fundamental of our systems to remain rather strongly intact because of its "proven" adaptive value to survive. That said, the beauty of that system can also be a nightmare.

Dr. Stephen Porges

I have always argued that "fear" is part of DI or Defense Intelligence (part of Emotional Intelligence) [3]. We can utilize it and we can mature it and take more and more conscious charge of it as we evolve ourselves via new levels of consciousness re-setting the operational dynamics of DI, and allowing for more flexibility than mere "reflex" [4] I would also argue that this developmental evolutionary theory of consciousness (e.g., Ken Wilber's work) gives an essential nuancing to how DI and how "defenses" work--this is not something that I see Porges' neurobiolgical research includes, which is typical of most neuroscience and positivism that don't care much about consciousness (or "mind") soft-structure platforms because they are "invisible" and not so measurable easy like brain-nerve firings (e.g., the vagaus nerve complex). The exception I know to this is Bruce Lipton's work on cell biology and consciousness, including his understanding of the most basic Love vs. Fear dynamics in the ecology of cells and their relationship to the environment.

Nonetheless, as Porges points out in this brief interview, "fear" has its own operational platform of Defense, as if it has its own rapid-fire "mind" (i.e., brain-reflex wiring that is very ancient and powerful and still active in the neuroceptive regions of pre-consciousness autonomic activity, which are really unconscious). He says, this is essential because such defense decisions (instincts) are needed sometimes in an instant when in a particular context of some severe life-threat or potential life-threat. There's no time to think about it, is the argument, and that's why these rapid-fire decisions systems are biologically-based to hi-jack the higher thought platforms of the mid-brain and cerebrum. You may note, that lots of research on the brain's amygdala surfaced in the 1990s and onward telling us of this same basic notion about fear and our defense systems... but, Porges has merely fine-tuned this and looked more at the action of the autonomic system overall and the vagus nerve network in particular.

What the amygdala research emphasized is more the "fight-flight" responsivity of the defense systems we inherited. Where Porges' work focuses on the polyvagal network and its function--quite complex, and I won't do it justice here--but that it primarily moves bi-modally as meta-motivational patterns between "protecting" and "connecting" in the reptilian-mammalian architecture of the body/brain system [5].

Porges and his followers are interested in the notion of "safety" first [6] for self/system regulation (and rehabilitation and growth), as far as I can tell. And that is the role of safety from a neurobiollogical (vagal) point of view. They assert that the defense system is hard-wired for not just fight-flight but also "shut down" (or paralysis) process under severe threat--that is, under severe trauma. They call this fear as originary and thus natural and valuable. This shut-down may take place as a kind of "trance" and/or "dissociation" or "fainting." It is very powerful to protect the organism. It is sometimes the "chosen" 3rd of the fear responses mentioned by various authors talking about fear management: in hierarchial order of activation frequency is something like this: (1) flight, (2) fight and (3) freeze (i.e., "shut down" or "shock"). Porges notes that fear-immobilization has been largely ignored traditionally in psychological fear theories and especially ignored in medicine and psychology and therapy theories [6]. He is bringing this out to the forefront, and using his polyvagal theory to help understand more of human's behaviors when distressed, when triggered by painful memories, etc. The point being, is to see that "shut down" which may not look very brave or courageous socially, is incredibly "intelligent," natural and unconscious, and not a typical "rational choice"--but it can be the very best strategy in some situations of extreme violence or damage potential of such. So, the point is we ought not be down on this 3rd option and we ought to respect the natural archaic body and defense systems to enact in our best interest. 

However, like all the 3 options of fear-responses, so-called, they can be healthy responses and they can be "dissociated" or "inaccurate" and on "over-drive" creating more problems than one already has. In other words, the fear management/response of any of these 3 responses can be "irrational" and "pathological"--leading to breakdowns of the intelligence of the Defense system. We need to learn about these systems in a good "fear education" (as I call it) so we can work with them and overcome their down-sides and potential pathological enactments. I won't go into polyvagal theory (i.e., bi-modal meta-motivation theories) beyond this brief introduction. Unless people want to explore this on the FM ning. FYI, you may or may not recall that in my work, I have added 2 more fear-response options beyond Porges [7] and his followers: that is, (4) tend-and-befriend, and (5) fearlessness. 


1. Apparently the first article that had impact on the greater scientific community by Porges (a psychiatrist and researcher) came in 1994. I find that an interesting date historically in the research on "fear." It was around this same time that a great wave of interest came from MRI studies of the brain and studies of the neurobiology of fear, pinning down the brain centre called the amygdala as the place of storage and processing of "fear" from ancient times to the present. The mid-1990s was also the time when the first critics of the "culture of fear" were starting to get published and listened to in the social sciences (albeit, they began naming this phenomena a decade earlier to explain cultural, historical and political dynamics of the major role that "fear" plays, beyond individual psychology). 

 2. This is not new as an insight nor a neurobiological fact, and it has physio-behavioral impacts of great significance in understanding humnan behavior in the past and today. The most explicit evolutionary theory of this deep structures of human motivation patterns came out of the research and theorizing of the "triune brain" concept of at least going back to Paul McLean's work, a very controversial theory that we are made up of an R-complex (Reptilian), M-complex (Mammalian) and H-complex (Human)--and, all three have their roles, and their attempts to dominate the behavior of an organism or system depending on the context. I found this in the late 1970s and was taken by what seemed a very logical brain/physiological (dynamic) explanation of behaviors and values sytems. Polyvagal theory is more or less interested in the same issues, the same hierarchical organization of these three brain platforms, albeit, Porges has his own way of naming and casting them. 

3. I am interested in a theory (Howard Gardner's) of multiple intelligences that ought to be part of our general awareness and certainly part of how we design systems that utilize the best of human potential along these lines of mulitple intelligences, e.g., cognitive, affective, relational, musical, existential, etc. The most popularized and "successfully" applied version of this has been the great attention to Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence, which also bloomed in the mid-1990s (see note 1.) Again, there are critics of Goleman's theory and applications, and I myself have critiqued it several times over the decades. Mostly, there is not room in his theory for the deep structures of the evolutionary brain, as in McLean's or Porges' work, and thus, it leaves out the deep motivational phenomenology of Defense Intelligence as a core essential intelligence.  

4. My own theorizing on this for decades has been that the developmental levels (and fear management defense systems) increasingly via consciousness evolution are less and less fear-based themselves. Thus, fearlessness as a path is always a path of continual growth (under good conditions) of connectivity and more reflexive thus, less reactive defensivity re: mistrust or protectionism. 

5. There is a large universal body of research and phenomenological experience throughout recorded history that notes this bi-modality of human motivation (and a good deal of animal motivation, or even plants). Re: autonomic nervous system, Porges' polyvagal theory brings out the bimodality of parasympathetic nervous system vs. sympathetic nervous system. As well, the simplest (non-technical) expression of it is the only "two emotions" theory--what I have called meta-motivations of Love and Fear. The equivalency is that our basic "drives" as organisms move along a spectrum of Love at one end pulling us to connection, and Fear at the other end pulling us to protection (cf. Porges' theory). Now, with any extra investigation, I am now thinking of all the other theories that are ought there, prior to Porges', like John Bolby on attachment theory (based on two bimodal orientations of the baby: fear of abandonment and fear of enmeshment, of which the first is the pole of protection or defense and its problems, and the second is the pole of connection and its problems). There is also the bimodal theories of "Fear vs. Freedom" as a synthesis of many theories which I have seen brought forward by the Terror Management Theory folks, and, of course the earliest theory along this line (other than the ancient Love vs. Fear philosophies and theologies) is Erik Erikson's first stage of affective development which he named "Trust vs. Mistrust" --and, so there is a great interet in this bi-modal theorizing to explain human behavior, and Porges' theory is just the latest, with more neurobiological evidence that basically "proves" what was already known to be tested and true in human experience by the other critical observers. I'd have to think more about how Indigenous worldview (and "theories") of human motivation may also contribute here. Each of these theories has partial truths to add to the puzzle.

5. My own 'red-flags' go up when I listen to Porges and his followers and their excitement about this theory of "safety" first rhetoric and discourse--which can slide into an ideological protectionism in the name of "connectivity." A tricky thing to tease apart, and we have to use fearanalysis to sort it out re: what is fear-based motivation and what is not. To what degree is fearlessness operating? To what degree is a fear-based structuration operating in even the most positive and benign looking campaigns (even the current 'wellness' craze)? Educators and psychologists are now saying without this polyvagal "calm" (motivation for connectivity overcoming motivation for protection) there is no way children or adults can learn through teaching-connections, or no way compassion and empathy can occur. This is a highly problematic, oversimplified, discourse today, with political ideologies to examine in that such cannot be left only in the analysis of polyvagal neurobiology, no matter how much partial truths the scientists may have at their finger tips in arguing for "safety" first as foundational to basic moral-compassionate connectiing--i.e, what makes us mammalian (sometimes linked to a "feminine" perspective and/or the oxytocin of mothering and bonding processes). I won't go into my critique further here, as it is a long one, suffice it to say it involves how the State (elite) powers have mis-appropriated this "safety" (connectivity) first evolutionary and neurobiological predisposition into various uses to control people/organizations and also to construct "enemies" to be destroyed who may threaten that "safety" first need or motivation. Terror Management Theory (social psychology empirical research) has offered some of the very best analysis on this and how humans behave in inclusive-exclusive dynamics re: safety needs hooked to self-esteem needs at individual and collective platforms. Fear of course (i.e., extreme cousin in the form of terror) cannot be left out of the equation of understanding major ways humans behave. 

6. My own early study of ethology (animal behavior in the wilds) gave a lot of concerted attention to the "play dead" shut-down process of the nervous system and as a general behavioral strategy in many species. So, I would say the human psychologists and psychiatrists are much slower on picking up on this in general. 

7. Which is not to say that Porges has not taken this into account in terms of co-evolutionary face-to-face interactions, and a notion of "care" that brings about polyvagal homeostasis in mammals, especially humans. The "tend-and-befriend" is a feminist theory of fear-response by Taylor et al. not based on polyvagal theory as far as I can tell.

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The 5 hr broadcast of the Women's March, Jan. 21, 2017 is well worth watching for anyone in this world. If you care about a (r)evolution on this planet from the status quo ways of operating that don't work for health and sustainable development for all, then this Women's March is everything for health and against pathology--at all levels of our society. I found watching this video (from Democracy Now news channel) absolutely enlivening at the soul level because Women are once again taking lead like I have not seen since the 1970s. Is it all about women only? No, clearly as I marched myself in little Carbondale, IL and as I know many who did march here, and as i watch and listen to the many diverse speakers in Washington at this event, it is women-led alright, but that is a very diverse group of people following women's lead. It includes men and others who identify most closely with other identities than merely binary women or men. Virtually every kind of marginalized identity has voice and is embraced in these movements. Although, there will always be some who say they felt excluded from this Women's March, a Diversity March, and what I am calling the FREEDOM FROM FEAR March of the people, radical, moderates and who knows there may even have been some conservative-types amongst the crowds of millions around the world.

From the perspective of the Fearlessness Movement, of which I have documented its history in the first posting on this ning, and on Wikipedia, there is no doubt in my mind, if you listen to this five hr. video live from Washington, DC, the theme is "We are not afraid!" (with many variations from, "I am not afraid! to "Don't be afraid!" to "We are not afraid of you President Trump! and "We will not be intimidated" and so on). If you know Matrix Reloaded (2nd movie, 2003, in The Matrix trilogy by The Wachowski Brothers) there is the most amazing scene in a huge cave beneath the earth where all the remaining few, and very diverse, humans live because "Machine World" is threatening its entire existence. And when under attack, Morpheus (an African-American man) leads a speech to arouse the people who are afraid. He repeats, "We are not afraid!" shouting to the top of his lungs. That is pretty much the same situation I saw in the video of the Women's March on Washington, and yet, with the females leading, as it is their turn and their time to do. Many slogans make up this coalition of the marginalized and diverse citizens of America and many countries around the world. The collective coalition is what is giving it the power that all the separate identity movements (politics) from class struggle, to sex and gender struggle, to race struggles, to you name it... they are coming together and are yes... women led. No doubt about it.

It has taken women to lead this coalition and organize in the way true revolution to be successful must be led. When I say "Woman" or "Women" I can just as well place underneath that umbrella "Feminist"--for sure. That is all there in this movement and the Feminist Movement has led much of these movements of diversity in terms of laying down the tracks of how to revolt against the oppressive intersectionality of Domination and Patriarchy. Women and girls get a lot of attention in this movement, but they are not the only ones who do. There will always be others, like men's rights activists, for example, who will feel they are not included the way they want to be--meaning, they will not feel they are "equal" to what rights are being struggled for. And, clearly, men are mentioned continually in this Women's Movement. I would say 30% of the people in these marches, at least here in Carbondale, were men, and that was because men came to support the women and girls, came to invest in the issues of intersectionality of struggle against Domination and Patriarchy and their negative impacts on everyone. But if men want to lead over women, forget it. I would say, women in this march everywhere have had enough of the way men lead. I am all for it as a radical feminist myself. If men want to be allies, and they can still speak up for their struggles, you bet--join this coalition women-led. You are invited.

Over and over, I kept saying in my mind that Culture Wars is only heating up, and it is invading politics and that's not going away. Any government today, who thinks they can rule a nation, especially like the USA, and not be sensitive to both sides of Culture Wars will not last long, likely be impeached, assassinated, or completely made inept because of the chaos of rebellions that will continue to plug the streets, the economies, the communications channels, and there will be "wars" --the coalition being formed and women led as I see it will be a non-violent one--it is made up of such diverse kinds of people and it will grow and include more and more. Of course, there will always be extreme radicals in and among them. Of course, there will be mistakes these women leaders will make. There will be differences that are and seem irreconcilable between the multi-diversity within the movement itself. Over and over I heard women leaders say in this video that that is okay, differences is what they are all about. Yet, with Trump elected as symbolic of exactly the kind of male leader they find so disturbing (and disturbed himself)--they, are not going to lie down and wait to see where his xenophobic policies and rhetoric of hate go. They are not going to give up eliminating these kinds of leaders from office of their country. And, I never heard or saw one anti-American expression made during the entire event. No, because this is not extreme radicalism moving forward. I am touched.

I won't do a big critical analysis of the movement I'm calling FREEDOM FROM FEAR movement... as part of the Fearlessness Movement in history... I am just glad it is happening now. We are so ready, as one sign I saw often read in these crowds "Love Trumps Hate"-- which, another read "We are a Resistance to Fear"--- it is true that people in America anyways, have been way too fearful for too long under the growing effective suppression of the "culture of fear" phenomena. It took a huge wake up call to see they could no longer live that way. It is no freedom. Apathy and pessimism is not an option. Women, mothers, and others leading are no longer going to stay quiet especially when they see a fascist-like regime take power in their country. If I was into making signs and marching, which I am not, I would make signs reading "Let's Not Only Resist Fear, Let's Understand it!" If ever there was a time, now is it for a better fear education, a better critical theory of fear management/education and its application to this FREEDOM FROM FEAR movement. Because, if I have learned anything so critical from 27 years studying fear and fearlessness... it is that rhetoric is fine, and slogans and marches, but if you want a real (r)evolution that goes to the next level of emancipation and transformation of self and society, you have better dig-in deeper, and design better fear management/transformation. Saying, "We are not afraid!" is often rhetoric in the assertive and aggressive "fight" register for what is a deep fear/terror still well seated below the surface of "strength" and "shouting." Albeit, there is also a 'feminine' response to fear and that is to 'tend and befriend' which girls and women as care-givers generally are instinctively capable.

Trump supporters and Trump resistors are BOTH afraid. My work shows that we will not fully understand LOVE until we fully understand FEAR -- they are dialectically intertwined. Love does not simply conquer fear--and end of story. That's a nice belief. Reality is much more complex and so are love and fear, Love and Fear, and so is fearlessness as the path between them.

Admitting fearfulness is a good start for us 'bridging' our differences and polarities that may never be resolved. We can however, resolve to end the Rule of Fear's Empire. I don't expect any rally to be much different than a cheer-leading and inspirational and nurturing space--which is fine, but we now need "teach-ins" (consciousness raising) all over the world of what it means to not be afraid when the fact is we are afraid of what's happening and especially with Trump as a leader. Again, I am not going to go further into my critical analysis and recommendations in more details. Those will come with time, and especially if people ask me for more. Let's continue the dialogue.

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I have just co-authored and published "Education, Theology and Fear: Two Priests and a Fearologist in Dialogue" (Technical Paper No. 61)... I highly recommend you check this out at Department of Integral and 'Fear' Studies (scroll down for a free pdf). 


You may be wondering what is Michael up to now with this "theology" kick? 

I have been asking this question really sincerely for the past six months, since I have met both Emmett Coyne and Terry Biddington, the two priests (American, British) who have taken up my work on fear and fearlessness like no others in my career so far. And, yes, more or less, the three of us are discussing what a "theology of fear" (healthy-side, and unhealthy-side) might look like in the 21st century. 

Today, while journaling, I came into a long series of rather spontaneous connections, going way back to my interest in "theodicy" (of Good vs. Evil)... now, and since the 1989 founding of the In Search of Fearlessness Project, Love vs. Fear has been one of the core foundations of me working through what a "metaphysics of fear" could look like. 

That's enough hints... for why you may want to read this dialogue in tech. paper no. 61 ... There will be a lot more coming on this, because it seems "pressing" (or "calling") upon my soul to articulate this better-- much better-- than I have to this point. And, to finally, wet your appetite, the ongoing study of fear ('fear') now 27 years in progress is by any other name a code-word for evil ('evil') -- and, this is big stuff ... it has eluded me, and then revealed itself, and then eluded me -- my forensic fearanalysis is getting better at seeing through what it is I am on about here on this planet... ha ha! 

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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  r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com] if you want to talk seriously (or even playfully)... and co-create with me and this work. 

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Some weeks ago I posted a blog on Canadian politics and the growing culture of fear (i.e., the way of American Fear)... and it looks like activist groups (including Anonymous, the powerful hacker activists) have been 'assaulting' back ... challenging the potential passing of C51 and its opening the way to more "secret police" in Canada and a whole lot of other so-called anti-terrorism moves... here's a petition of near 200,000 that is circulating entitled "Reject Fear" 


At the same time I can support such a fearlessness movement like "Reject Fear" and its predecessors in recent American politics from 2000 onward... I have also a great desire that some day we'll actually demand from our leaders a better curriculum on fear and its management-- a must course for all politicians... ha ha ha!!!

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