fear management systems theory (8)

Dr. Stanislav Grof: Archetype of FMS-8


Dr. Stanislav Grof, Psychiatrist and theorist (psychonaut). 

I have recently watched the film https://www.psychedelicassistedtherapysummit.com/thewayofthepsychonaut?kref=2YglctPiB1lF

of which documents Stan Grof's life and career. By the end of the film, it was clear to me, that I had found another basic human archetype of Fear Management System-8, in my integral theory of fear management systems. There have been 'saintly' type figurations I have put in the FMS-8 prior, but now it felt like Grof is a less saintly but authentic type (manifestation) of FMS-8, and a very potent impressive person and life. 

For more information on his work you can look him up (e.g., on Wikipedia) but the above film (and book?) "Way of the Psychonaut" is a really good overview. 

See Below, my latest simple model of fear management systems (FMSs) that I have been researching and publishing on for probably 15 years or so (e.g., see Fisher, 2010). This diagram shows an evolutionary/developmental arrangement of these FMSs and FMS-8 (Turquoise colored) is depicted (and is extremely rare). 

12253994094?profile=RESIZE_584xNote: It would take a long post and lecture really to do justice to explain this visual model and the theory it represents. 

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Fear Reconstructions in History

Any philosophical inquiry into "fear" (with as diverse of meanings that it has)--has to include a historical and philosophical look at what people (e.g., like Hobbes) have done with the notion of "fear." In modern W. thought/philosophy, Thomas Hobbes (18th century) is a leading figure in this reconstruction. Today, there are a few thinkers, like myself, also involved in deconstructions and reconstructions of "fear." I just found this Abstract of a paper in Russian, that I wish was in English, because it looks fascinating, so I thought I would share the Abstract here (published in 2017 in Journal of Philosophy 21(4), 602-11. 



Certainly this raises interesting questions, as part of a discourse and set of debates (mostly in social philosophy) as to what is the nature and role of "fear" in human societies and what should it be for optimal and healthy functioning? I think Hobbes, amongst others, was trying to make a more positive association for fear and even for adopting a fear-based positioning in terms of motivational priorities in the ways to construct a so-called rational (modern state)--society. There are lots of problems in my way of thinking about this strategy on his part, and it seems this Russian academic also has his problems with Hobbes. 

In my own Fear Management Systems theory (FMST), I have classified this fear-positivism manouever as 'common' for the last few hundred years, and especially common in the late 20th century into the 21st century. But I have also noted, both its valuable contribution and its potential pathological shadow dimension, based on FMST. Hobbesian thinking is a means of fear management itself--that is, a system of understanding and managing fear--with a particular agenda, in a particular historical and ideological context. Thus, it is not so simple to just say, oh, now we have not just irrational fear (the common view)--but there is a rational fear too. Not so simple, and that move of Hobbes and many others who follow this fear-positivism ideology do not even realize they are using an ideology to construct within, in order to rationalize "fear" and that itself can be very problematic for a lot of reasons, beyond the scope of my short blogpost here. I classify Hobbesian fear-thinking (philosophy) as FMS-4 --based on a spectrum of FMSs (i.e., fear management systems evolved from the beginning of human consciousness, history and before)--whereby, I see the spectrum having 10 identifiable FMSs 0-9. For more on my classification system, you can go to Fisher (2010). 


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.


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Fisher's Fear Management Theory (FMT): Video

For a short summary of my FEAR MANAGEMENT THEORY (FMT) see my youtube video just published: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3Na-4iuR7w

Dr. R. Michael Fisher, fearologist-educator-researcher, is a Canadian independent scholar since 1989. He has constructed in this video the Presuppositions and Theory aspects for what he calls Fear Management Theory and spins it in and out of some aspects of Terror Management Theory (based on other researchers and theorists in social psychology). For those keen on theory, and implications for policy, philosophy, and other aspects of a good social life, this is a great short summary of Fisher's theory (still in progress and still requiring a lot more "testing" for validity). Fisher ultimately wishes to work with TMT researchers/theorists and combine the theories to create a potent re-education of human beings. No small task.

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My critique notes, as a fearologist, of two pages on the evolutionary paradigm used by TMT core theorists and researchers [1] from pp. 66-67 in their recent 2015 book. As much as I respect TMT (terror management theory) and its universal attempt to understand human behavior (drawing heavily on Ernest Becker's work)--I find more and more  there are deep philosophical (theoretical) problems in this work and in TMT's very lens it uses to try to understand human behavior--of which it overtly focuses on fear management as a primary shaper of human behavior in human evolution and history (which I agree on as that primary shaper). However, how the TMT folks go about their argumentation is troublesome in that it seems not to be self-reflexive as to its bias as Fear Management System-5 [2] itself doing the discourse construction of the fear management (i.e., terror management) that they are describing. I won't say more... I know the above image cuts off lots... my scanner cannot figure out how to not do this... and, so, whatever, the case I am making is based on a fearological position and theory of Fear Management Systems which is core to my own theorizing on fear management/education and beyond. 

I share this note-taking and text from their book--so as to stir up and truth out what is actually going down with TMT these days, as it grows in popularity and applications, but needs a lot more critique than it gets, but that ought to come from specialized fields like fearology that study fear management--from a transdisciplinary perspective--unlike TMT itself which is still social psychology-based, and what I point to in my notes here somewhat, it is dominated by existential-cognitivism (and, the ideology of that way of thinking, of that empiricial paradigm of experimentalism and of general modernist thinking for the most part)--these, latter terms I throw out here because they need a lot more clarification as critique of TMT, I realize, but they are coming to me as I study TMT more and more. I'll leave this here... a much larger work is required for a thorough challenge to these dominating hegeomonic and paradigmatic components of TMT, which is a terror management theory (i.e., fear management theory) that is dubious on several grounds, as I say, its bias as FMS-5 itself and as existential-cognitivism. Oh, and on top of that, I keep wondering if Ernest Becker himself, if he were alive today, would be 'happy' on all levels as to the integrity (or not) of TMT, which the latter is supposed to be based on Beckerian philosophy and theories. Questions need to be asked. Another question I keep asking myself and have not fully answered it is: What would make a fearlessness psychology today? And, I look to TMT, and other theories, and I am not satisfied they would meet the criteria, although, they may not even want to--yet, they are, as I see it, on the way to such a fearlessness psychology--arguably, the latter takes humanity beyond fear-based psychologies (and FMSs) themselves. The Fear Problem cannot be solved by fear-based psychologies (and their concomitant fear-based curricula of fear management/education; and TMT is included because it is FMS-5 under my classification system). 

[p.s. for more FM blogs on TMT search this website and/or go to https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearanalysis-2-wilber-s-induction-to-terror-management-theory


1. Solomon, S., Greenberg, J. & Pyszczynski, T. (2015). The worm at the core: On the role of death in life. Random House. [although TMT has many authors and researchers now a days, these three are the core co-founders of the theory]; and note, they do not cite my 31 years of researching fear management

2. Fear Management Systems theory, way too complex to outline here, is evolutionary too--but best to check my thinking out as delineated in general in Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education in the 21st century. University Press of America/Rowman & Littlefield; note, my cursory classification of the discourse domination in TMT (using pp. 66-67 as exemplar) also includes, besides FMS-5, some FMS-6b (typical of most all existentialist discourses on fear management). FMS theory, revolves around and upon the evolution of consciousness theorizing of Ken Wilber, integral philosopher, amongst others. In my version of FMS theory there are ten evolved 'structures' for doing fear management (or terror management, it matters not), I name them FMS-0 to FMS-9. You can see, TMT's largely FMS-5 is modernist and 1/2 way in terms of complex fear management systems available on this planet. That's great ,but in a sense it is 'half-baked' or 'half way' on the way to even better fear management systems. That said, FMS theory (integrally-informed) holds that no one FMS of the ten is absolutely more functional than any other--all have a role to play in the evolution of consciousness (individuals, and cultures). 





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Quarantine Quiz 1: Fear Management Systems

During this rather global "lock down" to slow the spread of coronavirus, I have been producing some 21st century-appropriate, crisis-learning appropriate, fearlessness curriculum materials for your study (and perhaps, pleasure) in any extra time you and your friends may have on your 'home-time' for the next weeks... 

1. see my two short teaching videos setting a context for this crisis transition time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpIhhZYPlv8


2. to stay critical in one's empowered self and thinking always in crisis times to avoid unconscious hypnotic learning see my brief sample of critique 


3. most exciting (ha ha)... see the diagram attached below that is a skeletal 'map' of my Fear Management Systems Theory (FMST) taken from my main teaching textbook The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education in the 21st Century (2010). As I know several of you have this book, and it is also (in part) available to search online https://www.amazon.ca/Worlds-Fearlessness-Teachings-Management-Education-ebook/dp/B009R6GES0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=%22World%27s+Fearlessness+Teachings%22&qid=1584459018&s=books&sr=1-1


Your Quiz 1 is to take time to study this map (and research in the book itself) and answer these two basic questions as best you can: 

A. What is the predominating kind of FMS (Fear Management System), according to my theory, that is operating today all over the world regarding the management of fear (I am especially thinking of the so-called First World developed nations)? [hint: numbers 0 to 9 on the map are labels for the FMSs)

B. Give a rationale (why) for your selection for predominant FMS utilized generally (and, what is the second most predominant one as well, and give your rationale)? 



Okay, have fun, and post your answers up on the FM ning... and/or send to me directly r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail.com 

Also feel free to ask more questions of me and all others in our FM ning community. 

Take care, and keep learning... 




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Fearologists Ask the Bigger Questions: Re: Fear Management

To ask if any form of fear management (style), secular or sacred, is "really effective" is a question the fearologist has to ask. And the larger contextual question to that question is more like "effective" at what? If one group or individual claims to have the "best" or most effective method of fear management, how can we assess that, not just in terms of its own context (e.g., Christian context, biblical context, etc.) but in the larger context of the evolution of fear management systems globally, throughout history. Christians, as my example in this blog, typically don't care about the larger context that the fearologist does. Yet, the fearologist of the 21st century has to care about what the Christians think and are doing in terms of fear management. The fearologist has to have that depth and breadth of ability to communicate with all groups and how they manage fear--and, yes, right down to all individuals as well. It's a big calling, but one I have found continually fascinating.

This blog posting was stirred up by recently reading some excerpts from a new book:

Hamilton (2018) in a book published by a "big" NY publisher (Penguin Random House), is a Methodist pastor in Missouri, USA. I lived in that area of southern-mid-western USA for nine years (2008-17), and I met a lot of clergy-types and had discussions about fear, my work, and their interests and concerns. Overall, they weren't very interested in what I had to offer to their (Christian) ways of fear management. I always wondered why not? Was it because I am not God and citing biblical quotes about how best to manage fear? I'm not a "god fearing man"? [1] I'm sure that's a factor but I also thought, these spiritual and religious leaders in Christianity just don't have the best education on fear management/education for the 21st century? I never told them that directly, but they likely sensed I was implying that in challegning their views...though, I also listened to their views at times without any critique. But being a fearologist, my job is to critique everything about fear and life, and how humans carry on in relationship to fear. Theology and religion play an incredibly powerful role, now and historically, in shaping the relationship of fear itself and in how best then we are to manage, cope with, and/or transform fear.

What made this book by Hamilton catch my eye (and, I have read many of these kinds of books), is the book blurb on Amazon.com that introduces the book with Hamilton's recent survey of his congregation. Here is the excerpt from the blurb:

"Fear is a complex emotion. Sometimes it saves us. More often it robs us of the life we want. But we can take our lives back. 

You'd be hard-pressed to overstate the extent to which fear, anxiety, and worry permeate our lives today. Fear wreaks havoc on our relationships and communities. It leads us into making bad decisions. It holds us back from the very pursuits that promise fulfillment and joy. 

Making matters worse, not a week goes by when some new threat or calamity isn't dominating the headlines. Why are there so many tragedies? we wonder. What will happen next?

As the senior pastor of a large, diverse church in America's heartland, Adam Hamilton has seen the cost of fear up close. When he surveyed his congregation on how fear affects them, 2,400 people responded--and what they said was eye-opening. Eighty percent admitted to living with moderate or significant levels of fear.
Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times is Reverend Hamilton's insightful and impassioned response."


Okay, 2400 people is a good sized sample, and I tend to trust Hamilton and his sincerity to find out what his congregation is feeling these days. And, 80% are living in a good deal of fear. I appreciate that Hamilton cared to ask, and that's a budding "fearologist" in his curiousity, I'd say. Such a statistic also makes me wondered, as it may have for Hamilton as well, is the religion they believe in actually helping to reduce and/or eliminate destructive excess, if not irrational fear? It doesn't sound like the God of Love, as Christians supposedly teach (with some exceptions) is working all that well(?) Fear management isn't sounding very effective when I here the 80% statistic? Or, is it effective, and these people in the congregation would be a lot worse off if they didn't have their God? Church? Pastor? Love? on their side(?) Well, that kind of data and research just isn't available. We can only speculate.

That said, I immediately am quite critical of everything in the book I scanned online. Let me share a few of the critiques:

a) Hamilton dedicates a whole chapter 7 to "Weaponizing Fear" and with some good observations there on terrorism, I have to say he has a very limited view of terrorism (very conventional) and that is in contrast to the book that I just co-authored with Desh Subba and B. Maria Kumar [2], yet, Hamilton misses that the entire politics of this planet earth has been one, at least for a few thousand years, one of Fear Wars, and, yes, exactly a process of weaponizing fear (terror) to dominate, control, maim and destroy the "enemy" and, Hamilton oughta know that, as Jesus teaches pretty much the same as what I am saying about the way fear is used sociologically, politically, historically--and, thus, I was not satisfied with Hamilton's restricted view of easily labeled "terrorists" politically while ignoring his own Christian religion as having weaponized fear for a whole lot of purposes throughout most of its history (other religions, typically, have done also),

(b) Hamilton creates (unquestioningly) his implicit effective broad brush simplistic answer to the Fear Problem (not only of himself, his congregation, of America, but of the world), whereby he constructs his own formula for F.E.A.R. [3]: F for face your fears with faith, E for examine your assumptions in light of the facts [4], A for attack your anxieties with action, R for release your cares [worries, fears] to God. I am not saying there is no wisdom in Hamilton's religious fear management system offered. I doubt that it works all that well. So, the issue is, what would be better, more effective? That, I cannot say for certainty, not with the kind of certainty that one reads in Hamilton's teaching (but, then pastors are supposed to sound confident and certain re: their faith in God).

I won't go on and on with problems in this F.E.A.R. formula, be it Hamilton's version or others, the point I am raising is that they are so pragmatic with no theory to draw upon, and certainly, Hamilton is not drawing on the philosophy of fearism, or fearology teachings. The restricted boundaries, if not barriers, around religions, seem always to fall into this "traditional" way of thinking, even when fear is clearly dominating the lives of 80% or so of his congregration, never mind all of America these days. I find this short-sighted view of fear management everywhere I go. I don't claim that churches (e.g., Christianity) are all that worse or better than most organizations in handling fear today. I find them all "under-educated" and relying on old pragmatics, myth, folk wisdom, and good old common sense. But is it working? I doubt it is working very well, and I don't suspect it will change its ways, as religion has that rigid nature to keep the same, only change little on the outside, but the core stays the same. "Be not afraid" says Hamilton, albeit, these words of Jesus or whomever in the Bible come to Hamilton's book cover as "Unafraid" and of course that is 'good marketing' speak these days in America, and apparently in the congregrations as well. Publishers sell a lot of these self-help (Christian-help) books per year... a big industry. But, the fearologist asks: does it really work to manage fear well, to solve the Fear Problem? No, it won't solve anything like the Fear Problem, because there is such a muted and incomplete (if not distorted and rigid) thinking going on in the analysis of fear itself. Again, I won't go down that road of critique in this blog. 

Religion and fear (or even, spirituality and fear)... these are huge topics so important. I have some "faith" in religions and spiritual discourses to discover better fear management/education for the 21st century, however, mostly and ubiquitously I see little progress--for thousands of years, and I say this about Christianity which I know the most about. If I was to improve the fear management/education of religious leaders (like Hamilton), I'd say, why don't you folks come down off the pulpit and get a larger perspective within the evolution of fear management on this planet, in a global and internationalist sense, and take a look at theories of fear management like my own (for e.g.,), based on 10 fear management systems available to humanity... throughout time, and across cultures [5], and begin to see that the discourse (style) of your religious [6] systems is institutionally stuck typically in Fear Management System 4 [pre-modern], and, to acknowledge it has its role, and place, and value, but that many other fear management systems all the way along the spectrum to Fear Management System 9 [nondual] have evolved and are available to humans everywhere, no matter what religious faith one may hold. My point, as a fearologist, is that it is likely not wise to let religion institutionally dictate the fear management systems people are allowed to learn and practice. Then, let them make up their own minds how to manage fear best, and effectively, depending on situations and contexts, and a whole lot of other developmental factors, political factors, and that such complicated means is the way of learning--rather, than these authoritarian-based fixed F.E.A.R. broad brush formulas of tradition only.

Lastly, if "fear" is so recognized as critically important in the lives of people all over, especially today, and in lives of Christians (in congregrations like Hamilton's) then why oh why is there not a deep and longterm search in these traditions of religion for the very best knowledges, knowing, understanding on fear management/education(?). That my friends, is a puzzle. It doesn't speak well, for the future of religions, in my opinion!



1. Note, there are some Christian "fearologists" out there I have met in the world in the last few years, but I myself am not self-identified with any religion. I do however, come from a father and mother line of Christians going back into Europe and Russia, with even an strong evangelical side in my dad's family. So, I do know what it is like to live that way, as I spent many hours with them as a child and young adult; however, my own parents professed to no religion nor did they coerce us to "join" or "believe." I thank them for not instilling a fear of God so that I would behave the way they (or Christians) thought was right. As well, my wife-partner comes from a father who was a Lutheran minister all his life, so I have lots of experience in that religion and with clergy as well.

2. Fisher, R. M., Subba, D., & Kumar, B. M. (in press). Fear, law and criminology: Critical issues applying a philosophy of fearism. Australia: Xlibris. [see Chapter 5]

3. There are a plethora of such variants, secular and sacred, on this formula of fear management, of which the earliest seems to have arisen in the Alcoholics Anonymous tradition, some 40+ years ago or so; ALANON is where I first encountered this formula in their brochures, as they well acknowledged the problem of fear in a recovering alcoholic individual or system (i.e., F for false, E for evidence, A for appearing, R for real).

4. Hamilton is critical of anyone, including his congregration, for distorting truth, facts due to overblown fear. He wrote "The perception that most of us have in America is that ISIS [terrorist group] has as its primary focus killing Americans and Europeans. Yet in the first half of 2017, only 1.7 percent of the 1,670 people killed by ISIS were European or American (29 persons), while more than 95 percent of their victims were Muslims living in Islamic countries" (pp. 65-66).

5. For the complete map of the Fear Management Systems see Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education in the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America (Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield).

6. My critique and analysis of fear management systems of "institutions" in society, be they secular or sacred, is much the same, based on the same research I have collected for decades. Also, to note, within religious faith traditions, there are exoteric forms of religion practices (e.g., institutional guard) and there are esoteric forms (e.g., the mystics)--with the latter, usually tapping into, if not creating, the higher more complex and matured wise forms of fear management systems. 


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Becoming a "Spiritual Teacher" Myself

I have always thought all kinds of diverse humans (and other-than-humans) could be "spiritual teachers" for the world, and for the evolution of consciousness and sustainable and sane living. That said, I have struggled greatly with all the various kinds of "spiritual" teachers I have met in the human world. I have even written of throwing out the term "spiritual" because it seems so poisoned to me, for a lot of reasons, as have many religions and forms of religiousity that come out of them. Yet, after re-reading Wilber's notion of "Integral spirituality" (his own term, with a very particular and complex developmental theory behind it) I think it best not to throw out anything until I (we) understand what we are dealing with as the "problems" (or, I prefer to call "pathologies") of spirituality, religiousity and religion (or, for that matter, if we were to include Buddhism in this, and Wilber does, we are more talking about a "psychology" of spiritual growth than a typical religion).

So, I'll not throw out the 'baby with the bathwater' and toss the term "spiritual" or "teacher" for that matter. Wilber has offered, along with many of the brightest researchers he cites, a more "reasonable" approach to go head and embrace this dimension of human experience that is so ancient and still so prevalent--for short, I'll call it the "spiritual domain" of experience. Now, just to be clear, I am going to share more on Wilber's summary view of his 'corrective' to spirituality on the planet and the major religions included--but that is not my particular focus (which, I'll outline in other future FM blogs; also see a few blogs I have written in the past few weeks since getting Wilber's (2017) new big book The Religion of Tomorrow --as well, you may want to read my book review of it on amazon.com, along with others writing there).

So, if you don't want to read a 777 pp book on Wilber's 'corrective' to the evolution of religion, religiousity and spirituality, I am going to suggest READ PP. 504-11 and that will do it. You will have got everything from the book (ROT) that Wilber cares about and is teaching about (of course, he has taught about a good deal of this in his other books on religion and spirituality over many decades too). The Religion of Tomorrow (ROT), to be clear, is also for today. He wrote, "... many of these summaries are of material that turns out to be particularly important for any religion of tomorrow (or of today for that matter). These areas and ideas [i.e.., in ROT by Wilber et al.] that are almost entirely neglected (or actively denied) [due to fear?] by virtually all of today's spiritual systems (and by virtually all human disciplines as well)" (p. 511). WHOW! If you hear what grand voice he is using here sort of shakes my bones, at least, it may rattle others... because he he talked about the BIG NEGLECT, the BIG DENIAL, the BIG FEAR... as it appears to me. And, what he presents in the Integral Theory (metatheory) is really for him that profound, and I tend to agree with him. His critique is saying "all human disciplines" as well are ignoring his theory and applications (again, he makes clear, he is not the only one saying this stuff, and there is a lot of application of Integral Theory going on by others)... so, I'll leave you with that opening of how important he sees this work. I'll also acknowledge that he is going to have a massive wave of people, if they read this kind of grand claim, totally diss Wilber and Integral Theory... for a lot of reasons, some of which I do think are because of BIG FEAR of its implications and yet, most of them will merely reject Wilber and his work and big claims because "he's an arrogant asshole" really, a white-male heterosexist... etc. And, then, really, the deeper ontological (philosophical) issue will come down to Wilber, a "structuralist" thinker vs. Others (especially in the academy) "poststructuralist" thinkers. This latter divide is grand, it's a WAR over the best way to understand reality. Keep in mind this is really kind of a false dichotomy too because Wilber is not only a "structuralist" thinker, and in fact is a foundation to his developmental theorizing but it is not the be all end all, and he works hard at times to be more poststructuralist and to enjoin the best of both camps and ways of knowing reality. I won't go into all that argumentation he puts out or his attempts to do this. I will say, rare if any of his opponents (poststructuralists) even make a moments effort to be so generous in integrative possibilities as Wilber has made for decades. That says something about those committed to poststructuralism if you ask me. It doesn't speak well for their own ideological biases, even when they claim they are against ideologies (e.g., they would cite Wilber as such).

QUOTATIONs OF SUMMARY (from ROT) (pp. 504-11)

Before I start a few quotes as good discussion points perhaps, I am claiming myself now to be a "spiritual teacher" (it's not the first time I have declared this, but I actually rarely ever mention it to anyone, including myself). As I come to claim this more, I merely am interested to apply all I have learned in life and my studies with the work of Wilber's (e.g., ROT) and come forward to offer a 'new' integral approach to being "spiritual" --that is, to encourage a healthy evolution of spiritual intelligence on the planet. I mean, of course I would want to do that with the conviction of every bone in my body. But, if you are looking for a certain image of a "spiritual teacher" (and/or spiritual educator) then, check those out, and see how you carry them around, and how you may "diss" anyone who could be a spiritual teacher to you just because they don't appear to fit some image (or tradition) you prefer. I am not saying you "should" agree or follow or access me and the spiritual work I do. I only offer you confront your own views and go from there. I ought to do the same.

Wilber's great summary (applying the principles of the book, and Integral Theory) to religion(s) come through as he uses the e.g. of Buddhism (very consciously) where he could use Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. He kind of goes after Buddhism, to bring more clarity. He argues there is sufficient evidence that there are "Stages in Buddhism Itself" and by that he means obvious "structure-stages" (or levels) of development, that coincide with levels of consciousness on his spectrum of evolution model/theory. Again, his spectrum approach, and integral approach, are not Wilber's per se, he has summarized hordes of data from diverse sources to make this model/theory usable and strong (not in any way claiming it cannot be critiqued).

On p. 505, Wilber notes others have been working on books/models to understand what an Integral Spirituality would look like and then on p. 506 he goes after a clarity on the Stages in Buddhism Itself (that some in Buddhism recognize and most don't):

"Buddhism began as a Rational system, one of the few of the world's Great Religions to do so. And remember how we are using 'rational' [in Integral Theory]-- it doesn't mean dry, abstract, analytic, and alienated. It means capable of a least a 3rd-person worldcentric perspective; it can therefore introspect and reflect on its own awarness and experience, adopt a critical and self-critical stance.... Buddhism is closer to a psychology than a typical religion. Of course, most schools of Buddhism put a central emphasis on states [of consciousness/experience], but when it comes to their interpretation, it is typically rational, objective, and evidence based." [kind of like science] Of course, not everybody is born at Rational. Actually, nobody is. All individuals start their development of basic rungs and Views [i.e., worldviews] at sensorimotor and Archaic, and move from there to Magic, then Magic-Mythic, then Mythic, then Rational, Pluralistic, and Integral (if they continue growing). And this means that individuals at all of those stages can be attracted to Buddhism, and over the centuries, actual schools of Buddhism have arisen that are based primarily at each of those Views [i.e., structure-stages 0-9]" (p. 506).

So, that's enough for this one FM blog ... I'll do up more soon... to continue these wonderful few pages of summary that tell it all (in a way)... oh, and keep in mind, all the time I am reading this work of Wilber's I am doing a simple fearanalysis... I'm looking at all those structure-stages and plotting my Fear Management Systems theory on them and that's for another time too, but to say, Wilber and his colleagues do not adequately address my FMS theory at all and this is a huge problem if we really want religions, religiousity and spirituality to develop healthily ...

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This long blog post involves questioning how my own work (e.g., fearanalysis) can contribute as a 'corrective' to the Gender and Sex Wars going on around the planet, particularly in the Western (post)modern world, and especially since the 19th century arising of the Women's Movement through to the waves of feminisms. I will rely heavily in this blog on my daughter's contribution to this topic, as she (Vanessa D. Fisher) has become a bit of an expert on Gender and Sex Wars. Also, note, "solution" is used very loosely here, because these wars are not easy to solve and not by one solution.

The challenge for me is important in that I ought to be able to say something significant to help assess the Gender and Sex Wars, because they are "wars" indeed if you actually take time to study them and what they are producing, some good and some not so good, results. They are arguably, and seemingly, essential conversations and debates, because humanity is working through a "crisis" in the gender and sex identifications, and roles, and the entire societies involved are going through this transitional difficult time because Traditional understandings (i.e., premodernist) and Modern understandings (i.e., modernist) are clashing severely and have for well over a hundred years but now since postmodern times (e.g., post-WWII, 1945 onward to present) we are facing Postmodern understandings and complexities around gender and sex, and the wars between these perspectives are severe. [Note: I include this war under the Culture Wars title used by many thinkers]. With wars there is going to be a lot of fears--and, the exacerbation point of the Fear Problem itself that has not been resolved, or not even been well enough acknowledged at the root of the wars, and here I'll focus on Sex and Gender Wars (conflicts).

I focus on this hot conflict today for several reasons, not the least of which is because of my daughter's involvement in them for over 10 years now as a public intellectual and activist in her own right, with her own youtube channel (see "Vanessa D. Fisher"). At age 33, my daughter has turned out, with my pride of course, to be an important voice in that debate about Gender and Sex going on. She is in the middle of conflict sorting out her own ways to make sense of it and add a compassionate response and potential guideposts to its resolution and healing, as well as directions for policy. She is also a critical thinker and writer, has taken several feminist courses since high school and through her undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts. At present, she is nearing the place of applying for law school. In fact, today, she told me she is going to visit Yale Law School to see it from the inside. This is a big step for a girl who was raised mostly in poverty borderline working class home, even though her mom and I were professional school teachers for a few years in her infant years. Later, after the divorce, she was raised by her mom, with her sister, and they lived on welfare until she left at age 16 and came and lived with Barbara an I and started a "new life." That little bio background may help you understand some of where Vanessa comes from, because she is going to be important in this blogpost. I will use her example of how to talk about feminism and women's issues in the Gender and Sex Wars debates of the day. She offers me an ongoing look, from a young person's view of this debate and her youthful wisdom is always something I learn from, even if I am also critical of her positions at times, or mostly I have extensions I would offer to her positions. Understand, also in biographical context, she was raised from 16 on, until she left home at 19 or so, by me and her step-mom (Barbara Bickel) as declared feminists ourselves. Vanessa learned from us, and she also "parted" to develop her own views, which I appreciate.

Brief Overview of My Work on Gender and Sex: Sexuality & Fearuality

First, before I share with you my interpretation of the substantial components of Vanessa's latest video channel presentation on "Were Women Historically Oppressed?"(Apr. 21, 2017), it may be useful for you to read some of my prior work on this topic of gender and sex, and activism and social movements. I am not an obvious "activist" to most who know me now. I have been more a traditional activist in the way long gone years in my late-teens and 20s especially. So, I am going to list in the end note here what blogposts I have published previously on the FM ning that are background and relevant to this topic today [1]. Those pieces are samples of my work and interest on this topic, if you want more, let me know and/or look on the internet. Bottomline, I approach gender and sex as the domain of "sexuality" in the largest sense of that term as an important dimension of being a living organism/system. Sexuality, for me, is equivalent in many ways, analogous to, "fearuality"--and, thus, the two of them together come down to my interest to see how "fear" plays an important role in sexuality and fearuality and how they interrelate in total human evolution and development. Of course, culture and politics and history all come in as well to shape sexuality just as they shape fearuality and the combination of the two dimensions of human experience.

Vanessa D. Fisher's Views

Now, to the substance of this blogpost, and Vanessa's contribution to this. Note, I have not had her edit anything I am writing here. We have had several conversations however, after her last video ("Were Women Historically Oppressed?") and before that we have always had good critical conversations on this topic. That said, she is much more a content expert, a young person's expert, than I am (at age 65). I have always told myself, and later to her face, "I am staying away from entering this topic." I continue to take that position, and do not wish to be an expert on gender and sex and the conflicts. However, I keep getting drawn into it, thanks to Barbara and Vanessa. So, on that, let me start my interpretation of what I think is so crucially important in Vanessa's response the question that she says is the most common one she gets asked by many people in her public exchanges (mostly on the Internet but also live). She gets asked by activists who are fighting on either side of the debates, the wars, to come out and take a stronger stand and not just "fence sit" in the middle. I can tell you that pisses Vanessa off because she feels she is taking a strong stand, but it just doesn't nicely fit the activists' stands on either/or sides of the war. I know Vanessa's personality since she was born, she is not one to be quiet with her opinion, nor her intelligence, nor her fiestiness. She is also not one who totally like to conform just because of its advantages, but this also has been a struggle for her growing up and even now, as it is for most people. We all are going to face the fear of non-conformity and the option to rather just conform and "not rock the boat" in our social and work worlds. Also, being a Libra, some astrologers tell me that makes her a "mediator" by inherent nature. I see that is her strength, and at times, in some situations, it is not likely her strength.

Her lastest video is one of a long series of many videos and blogs and interview podcasts she does. I highly recommend you check her out on the Internet and her social media work. She does all of this for free. She has been passionate and driven to help the world solve this problem, and other things. She knows my work on Fear and Fearlessness, somewhat, and knows where I stand and why I am doing my own interpretation which is somewhat different than hers. That said, I agree with so much, especially in her latest video where she says she refuses to answer the "purity test" question the binary activists throw at her: "Were Women Historically Oppressed?" Also, note, she often is referring to the gender and sex problems and wars as heated right now because of the strong and growing opposition of "Feminists" vs. "Men's Rights Activists" (MRA's) and others involved who may not fit those two sides, but fact is, those two opposing sides get all the media attention and hype. Vanessa has not wanted to play that binary game, although, she admits to being sensitive and empathetic to both sides, both have partial truths to share but both have their own "shadows to deal with" is a phrase I particularly like because I call that "shadow" (as do others) the pathological, neurotic, and wounded side--that is, the Fear-side of their perceptions, thoughts, actions and stances, politically and psychologically, etc. 

So, I would focus on the fearanalysis of Gender and Sex Wars, and I can tell you, no one really likes that I do that, not even Vanessa, though she wouldn't likely say that to me overtly, but it is just not her "flavor" of ice cream she likes to focus on in approach. That's not what I want to go into in this blogpost but it is worth mentioning.

Vanessa both accepts the concern behind the question ("purity test" as she called it in the video): "Were Women Historically Oppressed?" (now is a good time to watch her video)--and, she rejects the question. Her main reason for hating to answer this question, is it forces the discussion and her positioning into a binary that is imposed in the structuration, assumptions, and bias already in the question. She says she doesn't want to play into the "tribalism" of that forcing an answer in a way that then allows the activists asking the question to quickly label Vanessa's answer (or anyone's answer) as pro-feminist or pro-MRA (i.e., pro-men). And I agree with the forced and narrow binary of the question and the way labeling is made superficially and rigidly and it is like there is no room, flex or curiosity after that. The "victim-mentality" as Vanessa calls it in this debate (on both sides) has to do with feeling they can be then "safe" with Vanessa as an ally for their cause or not. The really disturbing part of activism ideology (binary forcing) is that it divides and conquers as its main strategy. I find that oppressive itself. Vanessa likewise, and no doubt others of you would too. The gender and sex wars is complicated, so is the question about oppression. Vanessa goes into that problematics in the video. I want to come back to Vanessa labeling this "tribalism" behind the agendas of these two camps in the war (which could be any kind of war). The tribalism is a way of organizing the world and discourse and rhetoric that looks for "right" and "wrong" "guilty and not-guilty" behind everything going on, especially in how people take a stand on some issue or problem. This divisive (philosophical dualism) is itself fear-based and oppressive when it is pressed with the pressure of the "purity test" --as you see is also the case when in many different issues of the day, "blood lines" are used to tell who is on who's side of a genocidal war or any other cultural/tribal label (could be race, ethnicity) etc., or color as in racism, etc. involving genetics. This is the old wars we know of, they are very destructive. Not that all things about tribal cultural life and consciousness and politics are "bad"--no, that is not what Vanessa or I am saying. We are merely saying, that in a 21st century context, in a postmodern world of complex problems and conflicts with globalization, with gender and sex identities evolving and roles of people changing ---such simple "purity tests" are made for another time and era, not now.

The "purity test" is a way to tell (as the activists may wish) if a person is a "denier" or not. From the generic feminist view (especially, radical side) the test is to tell how much one has sympathy for the female cause of vicitimization and of the 'holocaust' and atrocities against girls and women from the beginning of time--all, perpetuated by the Other (i.e., the boys and men of patriarchy)... the other side in the debate would also see if one is a "denier" just going in the other direction, as the MRA's often do in their radical forms of ideology and binary tribalism. Again, you can watch Vanessa's video, one or two times and I think she really gets this out and suggests better ways to go. To make this blogpost not too long, I call all this problematic "fearism-t" or a type of terrorization to conform that fits the agenda of any ideology. That's the problem of all ideologisms. They are fear-based, guilt-based, shame-based in entire structuration and always have been. Today, in the 21st century, and especially from the perspective of Fearlessness, these are not going to be useful. I also would argue they carry a retro-regressive rather than a true progressive agenda. But that's a long blogpost for another time.

Vanessa, is a good "integralist" thinker, a post-postmodern thinker, and she smells that ideological retro-regression and its violence based on fear--which is, as she says, based on wounds and shadows on both sides--where all the activists really want with you in their asking the question is to "objectify" you as "for or against" them, and that prevents the most important relationship and working through dialogically and otherwise the healing and communications needed in war zones. Again, that's a long blogpost for another time. Vanessa is offering in her work a non-fear-based intervention to the wars. I heartily support this, and of course, I would want to bring in a critical integral fear management systems (fearanalysis) to it all. I'll give a quickie summary. Tribalism as I mentioned above, when applied to a postmodern world, e.g., North American society overall, is going to be disasterous, and much of the old pre-modern tribalism and hurts still persist, including the war between Church and State, that W. Enlightenment tried to separate out using FMS-5 as the method, which was attempting to overcome FMS-4 and FMS-2 ... and, their limitations to deal with a more complex modern world. Then there is FMS-6 (postmodernism) attempting new strategies to overcome the "fear of the Other" (i.e., diversity problem)--and, feminists and MRA's for example, also use this FMS-6 as their main approach to dealing with fear and diversity and yet, when it comes into the gender and sex wars, and victimization and identity politics (too often) there is a hidden underbelly of pre-modern FMS-2 (tribalism) and FMS-4 (empirism) underneath trying to use "fear" against people by intimidating them to conform to the status quo (or to conform to the "gang" mentality and means of ideologies)...

Okay, that's a bit of my interpretation to wet your appetites, perhaps. The "Solution" promised, is really in Vanessa's response to the "purity test"--and, Vanessa is very wise I think on many levels in the way she handles the difficulty. I would take some different routes to handling it. I would start with a really good education for everyone on oppression history, philosophy, theory and praxis. That, most people, including Vanessa, just do not get in contemporary society and education. I would add, a good fear management/education is also needed, and also lacking. I would add, the integral perspective (theory) is also key, and Vanessa is most educated in that, as I introduced her to it in her late teens. Ultimately, the solution is to use "FMS-7" (what is called 2nd-tier in Spiral Dynamics Integral Theory). That is, "Fearlessness" theory to guide the "wars" to a less violent resolution.


1. See "My View on Social Movements" (Sept. 23, 2015), "New Social-Practical Philosophy for the World Soul" (Jan. 19, 2016), "Sex and Gender Wars: From Many Perspectives" (Feb. 12, 2016), "Women/Feminists: The Struggle Against Fear" (Dec. 18, 2016), and "Fearism and Feminism" (Jan. 9, 2017).

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