fearless standpoint (2)

A New Psychology: Fearlessness Psychology

This short blog is my simple introducing of the newly coined term in my vocabulary: "fearlessness psychology." For 30 years I have been studying fear and fearlessness. I eventually realized I was shaping a philosophy of fearlessness (now, fearlessness philosophy) [1] but there seemed something still not fully fleshed out in the philosophy which I realize I can better flesh out and make clear for people in psychology--at least, that's what I have recently figured out. But for various reasons (see below), I kept on the side the very close association of my work with Psychology (as a discipline). I didn't trust something about Psychology overall. 

Before I try to give a definition/meaning for fearlessness psychology, which is something really very complex and I won't be able to do it justice here because it still is in progress of being so conceptualized, there is some background to this conception of such a new psychology that is worth articulating. It will help with understanding its meaning as I am shaping and emerging with it an exciting discovery and potential. 

Psychology: A Love & Hate Relationship

My autobiographical reflections could go on and on about my relationship to Psychology (as a discipline of study and knowledge and practice). I cut my teeth in my growing up on natural history and then biological, behavioral, ecological and environmental sciences. My first careers and love. Psychology only entered very briefly into my early studies in youth because I was interested in people "values" and how they "behaved" in regard to treating Nature and the environment, and environmental problems so poorly. I intuited that I would need to understand human behavior to be a good steward and wildlife professional and environmental activist. I wanted to know how to change human behavior, for the better. But I never really studied it much, until in my Education degree and having to take courses, and having my first wife introduced me to depth psychology in the form of the psychology of Carl Jung, then William James, and on and on I began to study more and more on psychology as questions of human nature, the human condition and human potential really interested me, especially as I switched my career to Education. 

I learned that there are many kinds of psychologies, probably hundreds of varieties by names, like psychoanalysis, like behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, abnormal psychology, etc. I pretty much wanted to learn from them all and often still find them interesting to read. My biggest informing "metatheory" (and historical and philosophical perspective) on psychologies and the pattern of their evolution, role and nature in human societies came from reading about various classifications of them and most useful was the work of Ken Wilber (and, others in the transpersonal psychology movement of the 1970s-80s). Wilber and others had this overarching classification that pretty much all psychologies, could be classified, more or less, into four or five major "forces" or waves (movements) of Psychology: (1) psychoanalysis, (2) behaviorism, (3) humanistic-existential, (4) transpersonal. Some have said (5) Integral is the meta-wave and encompasses all the prior waves [2]. My favorite of these psychology forces have been (3) and (4) for many years, but all along I was reading Ken Wilber and eventually I totally got hooked on Integral Psychology (and philosophy) as my fav. and psychoanalysis all along has been growing in appeal and interest. The most popular psychology today is cognitive-behaviorism, the 2nd wave, as it has come to dominate and done so because it has most aligned with "sciences" (e.g., biological-neuro sciences). 

Critical Psychology: A Beginning Critique

Through my studies I found anthropology, sociology, cultural studies and philosophy etc. as having their critiques of "Psychology" and especially because Psychology more aligned itself with the Biomedical Paradigm (i.e., Medicine) and sought to be more and more mainstream and developed a dominance on the knowledges of "psychology" and started to control more and more of W. society (at least) in the last 100+ years. I paid attention to these critiques, and as well followed a good deal of the battles between the various forces (and schools) of psychologies. All I knew is that my fav. psychologies were more on the margins all the time and often weren't even studied in university psychology degree programs nor barely mentioned in the texts. I thought a wide diversity of psychologies was healthy, but that's not how textbooks were written nor how funding for psychological research was distributed. The "power" play and domination of some psychologies over others I found reprehsible and often unethical--a political game that was most unfortunate and still is. 

Then one day I discovered a field (very marginal as well) called "critical psychology" [3] and that was even more radical in challenging how "mainstream" psychology functions and biases the knowledge and practices of how we deal with human beings. Something was very wrong in my education background because I had never heard of this sub-field of critical psychology. I was positively attracted to an 'honest' and 'transparent' psychological approach that was critical of itself and saw its own limitations in terms of methodology and understanding and politics in its uses and ways. Critical psychology was more open that way. Then I found somewhere in all this study the work of James Hillman and archetypal psychology (a branch of transpersonal and spiritual psychologies). And there in Hillman's (1977) book [4] I found a masterful and sound articulation of critique of what Hillman called the whole domain of humanism and humanism's psychologies. I won't be going into his critique but to say in re-reading this book again recently it so inspired me and I realized much of my view of psychology and theorizing of psychology (and practicing psychologizing and therapy) has a lot of resonance with archetypal psychology, integral psychology, liberation psychology and feminist psychology and so on... I have a truly unique combination of psychologies (9-10 of them) and my own interpretations and creative expansions on all those too--and, what comes out of that is that I ought to label my own psychology (synthesis) after all these years of study. So, out came "fearlessness psychology" as my way to focus my own research, practices and writing on psychology but in this new way. Hillman's classic book I've mentioned shows that the very definition of psychology and therapy (for e.g.) really need to be reconstructed and aligned more with our ancient history as a W. civilization (at least)--and, again, that's a larger story I won't go into here. 

Fearlessness Psychology: Introduced

It will take many articles and a book or two probably in the future to arc out the architecture of this new psychology I am proposing. What is very evident is that it has come from 30 years of specialist study on my part re: fear and fearlessness--and what I started calling fearology and philosophy of fearlessness, etc. 

Fearlessness psychology at a minimum is a psychology that is (ideally) no longer based on the ego-centered view of psychology (i.e., human behavior). It is no longer fear-based because it is no longer ego-centered. And, thus, it ought to be called fearlessness centered [5]. My vision (meaning) for such a fearlessness psychology is that it would both critique all psychologies (including itself)--and, especially critique how "fear-based" they all (mostly) are, and how they have not near understood or been honest about the nature and role of fear in human psychology and even the discipline of Psychology and in the methodology we call "science" which Psychology so relies on more and more for its credibility and power. This fear-based psychology paradigm is what a fearlessness psychology critiques and at the same time also shows there is an alternative, more mature and liberated psychology awaiting for humans to develop and tap into for improving our current human state and crises of all kinds. 

I think that's all of what I want to share about my new psychology here, at this time. I look forward to talking with you all about it. 

End Notes

1. I also realized over the years I was shaping a fearlessness theory (and pedagogy) and I was making many connections of my work with critical theory (and pedagogy)--but that's a much larger story I won't tell here. 

2. See for e.g., Fisher, R. M. ((2010). The death of Psychology: Integral and Fifth Force psychologies. Technical Paper No. 36. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. [available ERIC ED510303 pdf]

3. The first resource book on this was Fox, F., & Prilleltensky, I. (1997). Critical psychology: An introduction. London: Sage.

4. E.g., Hillman, J. (1977). Re-visioning psychology. NY: Harper & Row. 

5. A more complex technical point here is that I actually base my new psychology on a "fearless" standpoint which I have talked about in my work for decades. Fearlessness centered is also called "2nd-tier" consciousness (organization) in Spiral Dynamics integral technology theory and practice (see also Wilber). I won't go into this here. 


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[Image created from the book cover Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows, Peter Lang Publ. 2018; I added the details of the CAT and FAWN  components and 2-way arrows for this teaching blog version]


You may have seen the prior blogpost re: my book on Dr. Don Trent Jacobs' (aka Four Arrows') life and work as an activist-scholar and Indigenous holistic educator. I framed the book as an intellectual biography. I did not want to only create a biography nor merely an abstract intellectual overview of a scholar. I aimed in the book for another layer of reality and meaning that to me was more important than mere biographic facts, stories, or intellectual interests. I was looking to gather all I could from Dr. Jacobs' (Four Arrows') experiences and thoughts, his activism and his teaching, and make a powerful summary of it all in light of the context of a better understanding of Fear and Fearlessness for myself and for all others who read this book. The synthesis of his life regarding how he has studied Fear and Fearlessness with my own work ought to create a 'new' curriculum or what I call a liberational 'fear' vaccine (process). We really need this on the planet today. 

It is rare indeed to find an educator who gives so much attention to the topic of Fear. What is 'new' as a synthesis in this book is really exciting to me and I trust others will also find this to be so, however, beneath the layers of the 'new' is something revealed that is very 'ancient' and dare I say, universal to the human struggle to find the best ways to be in relationship with Fear. The way he points us is not merely a "psychology of fear" and that is what makes this critical educator very unique. He is more transdisciplinary, like myself, in approaching this subject. 

It is thus a book all about a holistic-integral approach to fear management/education, a point I make in my own work, whereby, any attempts at bravery, courage, fearlessness, etc. are all attempts at some kind of fear management [1] and transformation. And, as Dr. Jacobs and I see it, we really need a better fear management on this planet today.

Ancient CAT-FAW/N Dynamics: A De-Hypnotizing 'Fear' Vaccine (Process)

So, the 'ancient' part is what I wish to briefly introduce here as it takes shape from Dr. Jacobs' life and work, especially as it comes throught the most important finding in his scholarship, as far as I am concerned, and that is the finding that concentration is core to the processes and outcomes of fear management of any kind. In the book I overview in the Introduction his CAT-FAW/N model [2] , which took him 15 years to develop (and it is still evolving). And CAT stands for Concentration Activated Transformation, according to Jacobs. FAWN stands for Fear, Authority, Word(s) and Nature. I have in detail described this in the new book but more accessible immediately is my interpretation of CAT-FAWN Connection theory in a blogpost [3], where I suggest his model/theory is a praxis of Fearlessness and thus is a praxis of what I would add to my list of 'Fear' Vaccines (processes) [4] in the liberation work that I design and teach. 

This 'ancient' part of Four Arrows' (Jacobs') model/theory/praxis is represented on the book cover image as four arrows (triangles) around his portrait. These represent the colors of the most common Medicine Wheel in several Indigneous cultures in North America (Turtle Island). The CAT is placed in the image on his brain as controlling centre of his senses, perception and ultimately of how and where he puts his attention--that is, his concentration. The concentration is depicted nicely in this portrait photo taken by his wife the photographer Bea Jacobs. So this gives a little backstory to what my latest image adaptation is about. The significant point I am making with this teaching image is that the book is not just about a man named by the Lakota Sioux in ritual initiation with their community but about a universal context of the ancient Medicine Wheel--whereby, I believe this book has "good medicine" to offer a very ill modern and postmodern (Western) society, and, perhaps beyond that to the world.

My point, is that Four Arrows the man ought not to be the center focus of the book (only). That's only part of the picture. There is another layer of center focus that I bring out in the book and that is the "four arrows" as "four directions" as "four colors" (vibrations) --and, thus acting as an orienting model/theory/praxis as 'Fear' vaccine process. I took the liberty in creating this image to name the four colors and directions as Fear, Authority, Word(s) and Nature following the Jacobsian model. My interest is that readers and viewers will re-interpret the book's cover and this teaching image. I want them to see that the book is about the "fearless engagement" of "four arrows" and thus, of CAT-FAW/N itself. What does it mean to bring a context of "fearless engagement" [5] as a referent notion to the study of fear management/education, to Fearlessness, to the Jacobsian model? 

The de-hypnotizing component of the CAT-FAW/N model is based on many experiences in Four Arrow's life. It is also a professional and scholarly attained model, tested over the past few decades. Yet mostly, of interest to me right now is that it is a model that comes from the ancient (living and non-living) 'Ancestors,' a point I make in the Introduction of the book and which I have described in detail to some degree in De-Hypnotizing Technology blog on Four Arrows' work and my research on his work. He is a trained health psychologist, hypnotherapist and high-performance athletic coach for many clients. That's where he learned many things, including from his training free-roaming horses and competitions with them. But lest it not be forgotten that he learned his most powerful lessons on the origin of the CAT-FAW/N model from his Near Death Experiences and study and work with shamans in remote Mexico [6] and how he was transformed. He has been rightfully reluctant to call himself a "shaman" though he has not totally rejected association of his work with shamanic elements over the years [7]. 

At one level, I see much of the analogous relational transformative learning in Carlos Castaneda with shaman/warriors (e.g., Don Juan Matus) in his series of (non-fiction fictional) books in the 1970s-80, as with Four Arrows and Augustin Ramos. I think anyone reading my new book on Four Arrows will find it mystical at times as well as very pragmatic, logical and grounded. The diversity of areas and methodologies covered in this new book is enormous. However, the core of it is all about fear management/ education, about Fearlessness as a path and a standpoint of "fearless engagement" as the premise of how Four Arrows' comes to move in the world and teach. He clears the way of all dogmatism, and religion, of rules and regulations and any arrogance of "fearless" on this path. It is available, he suggests, to all who are capable and willing to pursue to knowing Fear better--to becoming "connoisseurs of Fear" as he says. CAT-FAW/N model and theory provides a way of engaging the "four arrows" of the "good medicine" required as we reassess our Dominant worldview in the context of a resurgence of the Indigenous worldview. All that is covered in the new book. 

If I have communicated effectively in this blog, I'll be heartened by those readers who do not take this as a book about "Four Arrows" only but about "four arrows" and the study of Fear and Fearlessness within a de-hypnotizing process. I have included in the prior blogpost the initial Introduction of Four Arrows' near clinical assessment of mass hypnosis that humanity is suffering right now (especially, those non-Indigenous and Indigenous moderns and postmoderns disconnected from the "old ways" of pre-point of departure worldview and values). This new book is all about assessments, diagnoses and interventions. Agree with them or not, my aim as author is to present them in interesting ways and to provoke further dialogues--and, yes, if we can find enough agreements on the assessment then we can find new ways to make holistic-integral interventions in the Fear Problem on this planet. 'Fear' vaccines are going to be very useful, and CAT-FAW/N is one of the most powerful, that, I have come across, no doubt. Indeed, still a good deal of work and development is required to make it even more efficacious to more kinds of people, leaders and organizations.  



1. See, for e.g., 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.

2. I have taken Jacob's original model from his dissertation and 1998 book Primal Awareness and recently modified it with the /N for the Nature aspect which I believe is distinctly different in order of reality from F A W, and thus the /N signifies the entire model is underlain by Nature and comes from Nature as source. A few years ago he agreed with my adapted version, though he himself has not used it in his publications. 

3. See CAT-FAWN explained and another FM blogpost on "Indigenizing" Fearlessness

4. Re: prior writing on 'fear' vaccines see my FM blogpost 6 'Fear' Vaccines (book in progress). CAT-FAW/N is a 7th 'Fear' Vaccine recently added to the repertoire. 

5. In the book I make a comparable, parallel, case that "fearless engagement" for Four Arrows' is analagous (in part) to my own "fearless standpoint theory" which I believe is essential to better analyze fear management/education going on now and in the past and how to improve it substantially for the future. See Part 1 : FEARLESS, of the new book. 

6. I utilize here (and in the book) "shaman(ic)" with a due cautionary of contemporary (white man) mis-appropriations of these terms and traditions within an Indigenous context. I believe Four Arrows' has truly made a good effort for several decades to ensure his is not mis-appropriating (colonizing) the very Indigenous worldview he promotes at great length as a recognized Indigenous educator. Which doesn't mean that some Indigenous people and others have not criticized his approach and his mixed-blood heritage and background which is (potentially) inadequate to make him a "spokesperson" of the "Indigeneity" he teaches. I (as White guy) have followed the tracks of Four Arrows' careful situating of any of these Indigenous terms as best I can. I cover this problem in the new book, as does Four Arrows' in many of his writings. "Shamanic" however is still something very useful to understanding some of the phenomena Four Arrows and I discuss in the idea of CAT-FAW/N and de-hypnotizing technologies. He tracks out how the Indigenous Peoples, often had an intuitive sense of this de-hypnotizing as lived process, even though, apparently they have never written it down as a de-hypnotizing technology or theory or model as Four Arrows has. Clearly, beyond his scholarly naming and associating his name with this CAT-FAW/N dynamic, he'd be the first to declare it is not his model per se or anyone's but it belongs to Nature, to All Relations and to All Histories. He documents anthropologically (and otherwise) his experiences with shamans amongst the Raramuri Peoples of remote Mexico in the 1980s-90s, and especially of the 104 year old Augustin Ramos a most well respected shaman that he worked with there. This true story can be found in his dissertation and book that came from it, Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998). 

7. See his slide show video of his remote Mexico adventures and learning re: "Shaman's Message" on Youtube, as one example; his writing makes the connections continually re: the orgin of the CAT-FAW/N "vision" (shamanic-like and/or mystical) in a heightened state of altered consciousness when amongst Nature and the presence of shamans. My interpretation is that CAT-FAW/N theory is shamanically-imbued and offered to the world from the 'Ancestors'--a further explanation of this categorizing of his theory is in the new book. I treat CAT-FAW/N as a transpersonal "transmission" of teachings with all the shamanic overtones and undertones that I believe require due acknowledgement. I also respect that Four Arrows himself avoids any such direct suggestion of such. My assessment is my own based on studying his work and communicating with him, off and on, for the past 10 years. 

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