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fear of fear itself (2)

In 2007, the well-known sociologist of fear (in the UK), Frank Furedi, published a catchy article in both the prestigious American Journal of Sociology 32, and on his own blog site "Spiked" online. The title: "The Only Thing We Have to Fear is the 'Culture of Fear' Itself" (which is obviously his play on U.S. Pres.  F.D. Roosevelt's quip from 1933). I have followed Furedi's work on fear since the late 1990s. This article in 2007 (10 years ago) still speaks well to the phenomena that is going on today around the world, but especially in the UK and USA (even Canada): here it is: Furedi pdf  

As far as I can see over the years, and from my correspondence with Furedi, he has utilized much of my research on fear to expand his own work but never once has he cited my work. I have virtually always cited his work since the late 1990s. Anyways, despite that unfortunate turn, I agree with lots of his notions on fear and disagree with lots too. He's a sociologist and not transdisciplinary enough for my liking when it comes to the complex Fear Problem.

That said, I really like what he says in this 2007 article: "Fear is often examined in relation to specific issues; it is rarely considered [in academia and social sciences especially] as a sociological problem in its own right"--leading, he continues, "to a stituation where people are talking about fear (and risk, etc.) and doing so via "under-theoritisation of fear." Right on! 

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Troubling Albrecht's "Feararchy" Model

I just read an interesting, and troubling, recent article in Psychology Today magazine "The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share" by K. Albrecht (Ph.D.). It is based in a psychology (very Western modern) discourse formation (i.e., psychologism ideology), and that is both revealing and concealing, if not distorting the knowledge on "fear."  But rather than get into the long critical arguments I could make on this, let me say a few things about Albrecht's model and the contradiction which is glaring in his own article (and model). 

First, it is great he is working on trying to figure out some kind of universal human hierarchy of fears, and then labels his model the "Feararchy" (I have not seen anyone use that concept (theory) before, so I tend to like these kinds of developmental and evolutionary hierarchical theories/models and so I like the basic notion of this). Here is the model diagram he proposes: 

Albrecht starts the article off saying, "When we know where they [fears] really come from, we can start to control them." Hmmm... there's the Western dominant masculine (?) obsession to control and dominate--even to dominate emotions. That's one concern I have, but not the main one here. Then he begins to quote former U.S. President F.D. Roosevelt from the 1930s, and the iconic quote in so many fear discourses-- re: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" (very much repeated ad nauseum)... and he (Albrecht) says, in his own conclusion: "I think he [FDR] was right: fear of fear probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself." 

So, here is Albrecht beginning his thesis and strong positioning that "fear of fear" probably is our worst, or near most worst of the fears (and it's universal, he implies). There are lots of troubling issues in this claim, but I also tend to agree with it basically. So, let's then move to the model of simplification that Albrecht is presenting. And, be clear, he is a "SIMPLIFIER" type of person/thinker/theorist when it comes to fear and its management, and he says so, from the start of the article too: "Fear has gotten a bad rap among most human beings. And it's not nearly as complicated [aka 'bad'] as we try to make it." Again, I could take issues with how this is a dubious positioning. Yet, if I grant him that he may be this simplifier (vs. COMPLEXIFIER, of which I would place myself), then lets see where he makes the most contradictory (error) in the article. 

Look at his diagram model, The Feararchy (above). Okay, I'm not seeing him placing in this model the very universal fear he opened the article with--that is, "fear of fear" as what he declares is what "probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself." Hmmm.... what happened, why is this fear not included in his hierarchy, if it is as important as he says? So, there begins ... more troubles with this article by Albrecht. 

You can read the article and make up your own critique. Feel free to share it on the FM ning. 

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