fearology (28)

“Released some wandering mind thoughts.” -CB

Asynchronous Dialogue of R. M. Fisher With CB 

Fisher: Yes, I always appreciate it when someone writes a long and raw letter to me as part of our relationship of co-inquiry (loosely speaking) into the nature of life, reality, identity and what this world is all about. Then to dive into sharing about the investigations and mind wanderings into “fear” and “fearology is even more of a treat. In all my life studying fear, I have not met a more dedicated person to write back and forth with about fear than CB. CB is a much younger man than I. I met him in Calgary in 2019 or so when we lived just down the block from each other. I moved away in 2021, so our in close proximity relationship was short-lived, but we decided to write to each other whenever we felt the desire or need. CB writes more to me than I do to him, but I always respond. He appreciates just having a ‘space’ of nonjudgmental reception. I have been so impressed with his thinking and sincerity to know and improve his life and that of others around him, albeit, struggling with the great limitations of him being able to do either. His life is very much ‘on the edge’ as I see it and yet, he makes it through day by day. It astounds me that he will take on projects and often not finish them, then takes on more. He can even be a hoarder that way and that causes lots of problems.

At times I feel he is characteristic of someone slightly on the mild end of the autism spectrum, at other times I feel he is just an honest human and I really love having him in my life. Why wouldn’t I love his obsessiveness to learn. CB is the only person I know who has watched systematically in the last two years all of my 150 videos on my Youtube channel and most of which are on fear and fearlessness. He is a thinker and then thinks about thinking. He is a natural philosopher. Self-taught mostly, with no academic schooling beyond secondary education other than the school of life. Easily, he could do a masters or a doctorate degree if he was inclined and found the right department and field to go into. I’m not sure he cares much about that. He reads a lot and listens to a tonne of radio programs (day and night) that are about knowledge and ideas that really matter.

With that context, now I’ll turn to a bit our most recent exchange, which starts with identity as I consider this more important on one level than the discussion on fearology. Yet, fearology is where I think things really matter in our conversation and identity and fear are close twins, as you will see in my comments on his comments below. [note: I have excerpted with CB’s permission bits and re-arranged them slightly in this iteration of “some wandering mind thoughts”. Thanks CB. 


CB: So I took some time as I was writing through the night, now later this morning, to pull out Erik Erikson’s "Identity and the Life Cycle". Reading about the ideas of what I will call the donning and doffing of identity in a social context. The reconciling of self-identity with the social construction of identities within which we live. The acceptance and non-acceptance of individual self-identity within the socially acceptable identities, all of which are changing, submerging and re-emerging over time. I am thinking the donning and doffing is important in order to remain flexible to the changing landscape, socialscape. Seems important to not become too dependent on a particular clothing of identity. One can’t help notice, this societal moment of multiple crises, including identity, where so many seem to be seeking a simple(r) identity that will somehow solve the complexity in which we live. 

Fisher: Good snooping and sorting you are doing (like so many these days) around "identity" stuff, which is sounding fruitful, if not more and more complicated. My latest thinking is that we'd be all a lot better off (ha ha) if we saw ourselves as a community and hybrid of many others--a companion species with other species at all times (knowing it or not)--and, a posthuman perspective is I think the better way to go in general (much more in alignment with an Indigenous perspective)... or even that we are a diasporic identity I think is more realistic and as the world becomes under such pressures and so much 'movement' going on with immigrating and emigrating under climate change, wars and other tragedies-- we are all 'diasporic' in some sense--now, the question is, is that a good thing--it will really make one flexibly adaptable that's for sure-- a larger argument ('against') the grand search for 'home.' [some of the best thinking and writing on posthumanist identity comes these days from Bayo Akomolafe, and his Yoruba perspective as a black man and Nigerian now living in India and part-time in the USA; see his 2017 book, for e.g., These Wild’s Beyond Our Fences; he also has many talks on Youtube] 

The Problem With Fearologies

[as editor:] I start this off with my agreement with CB’s critique of one particular psychologist who called themselves a “fearologist” and has made some videos on “fearology” and attempting to legitimize it as a proper field of study and usefulness, but unfortunately they have not done their homework well. There may be other reasons as well for their lack of rigor on this topic. I start with my quickie reply to CB and then give his perspective which he came to about fearologies he was seeing out there on the Internet.

Fisher: First node response: [re: Dr. Mary Poppenroff] "It kind of doesn’t feel too integral to me." [CB was not impressed with Poppenroff’s interview] Yup, that was my experience listening to that same interview several years ago and reaching out as I have to Mary P. a few times to publish an article in the International Journal of Fear Studies, and other reaching out --but she has evaded me from the start pretty much. Ho hum... It was good to read your crit. to see I am not alone in what I've picked up about this so-called self-proclaimed "fearologist."  

CB: So here I am in the wee hours of the morning after spending my overnight wandering through a search of “Fearology” on the internet. I imagine you have done this before. I know you have - (by this I mean, doing a search of the term Fearology).

Staying up all night following random thoughts maybe a bit over-the-top, maybe not so much what I am referring to that you woud do. You say have done such a similar search in one of the website links that came up for me: 


Interesting to read through this document you wrote and published. “Integral Fearology: A study of the Fearology of Fearologies.” That helped me to see your work better when put that way.

So then I searched Fearology and read another of your pieces linked to above: "A Research Agenda To Legitimate The Study of ‘Fear’: Beginning Fearology 2000-2011." In there I read with a smile.  I wasn’t aware you have already done an interview with CBC radio’s host Shelagh Rogers, way back in 2004. I have been thinking for a while that there are quite a few CBC program’s which could/should explore your work.

Then I went through this two part series podcast (you are likely familiar): 


Very thankful that this podcast of host Alie Ward could be listened to at faster speeds. After going through so many of your YouTube videos this podcast interview with Mary Poffenroth seemed a bit superficial. Also I’m a bit disappointed they referenced one of your books at about the 3.20 mark but didn’t bother to reference you as the author. Doubly irritating given many references to various other people’s Youtube videos and such linked below their podcast on Allie Ward’s website, your work was not acknowledged. They could have at least put a link to your work! They also passingly say later around the 17.17 mark that most books Mary researched to become a fearologist were: ( 1) about extremes of fear or, were (2) more pseudoscience [thus Poffenroth was critical of their mis-informing people]. Maybe I am hearing that overly negatively, but neither of those categories describes your work. Not cool.

[the entire interview in summation:] Very psychological, and "fear as emotion," is the presumption throughout, or as Mary says "fear = stress, they are the same thing." At a few points along the way in the 2 hour or so of this series of talks, Mary describes herself as looking at fear in the more everyday experience and is not as interested in serious disorders, and that she sees herself as looking at fear in an integral way. It kind of doesn’t feel too integral to me.

Okay, I give some credit. There are some (maybe) useful ideas of her’s like RIA (Recognize, Identify, Address) individual fear, as a management approach. But it is for me a fairly limited treatment of things. Also, I’m not so enthusiastic about her idea about our fears (at an individual, emotional level) which can be so neatly categorized as being “factual” or “fictional.” I can see how she could build such categories but describing someone’s fear as being fictional might be problematic, or worst, demeaning.

As I just wandered here from my previous search of “the metaphor menu” and the whole problem associated with seeing living with a disease as a battle only, maybe I am more sensitive to seeing some fears as fictional and others as factual as maybe a not so ideal framimg. Then again, maybe our whole life is fictional. In way, maybe it is, so in a way maybe that is a factual part of life?

[Fisher: CB and I agree on this fuzzy boundary of fictional and factual, and the way they can get inflated with, respectively, abnormal and normal, of which btw is pretty much how all clinical professionals are heavily indoctrinated, and so it is not surprising to me a clinical psychologist type like Poffenroth would slide into the binaries of this study of fear(s) and build her theories and models upon that foundation—a very dubious one, and one that I do not promote in the true study called “fearology”]

CB: Towards the end of the second part of the series she did describe how difficult it can be to talk about fear, and with talking to colleagues about fear. That seemed to echo some of what you have talked about with regards to the tricky nature of fear and the difficulties in engaging people and academia in talking about and studying fear. So that part seemed to feel like a grappling with a more hidden aspect of fear that was otherwise somewhat absent in the series. At least the host Alie Ward used your work to make the claim that Fearology is a real word! More people who do that will make it so, perhaps. While she didn’t reference you properly, she did refer to your work and at the same time indirectly described you as an expert. The quote:

2.53 “Ward. Is Fearology a word?” . . .  3.20 “I looked it up and Fearology is, in fact, a real word, as it's been used in books about fear like: "Philosophy and Fearism - an East West Dialogue" [I initiated that book and was lead author, with my colleague from Nepal, Desh Subba] and a few other experts in stress and fear and anxiety use the word fearology so, I think it is a super critical field of study and thus I am throwing my weight behind making it an even realer, more commonly used word. Fearology. Let’s do this. Let’s talk about it," says Alie.

As I say I was glad I could listen mostly at 1.5 or 2x speed. I am a bit tired so maybe not as patient about this one. For a Dr. of status, I was not impressed with Poffenroth’s level of thinking on fear. I am sure she earned her Ph.D. She is well spoken and really does seem very versed in what she is describing. I also should be careful to not confuse her upbeat style with a stereotype of not being scholarly, but the ideas presented, which the host finds “mind-blowing,” do not seem to dig deeper into the nature of fear particularly. Her RIA idea kind of sums up her approach Recognize it, Identify it, Address it. And, I presume, move on from it. It is maybe ok at that level, but it seems limited to me now. Watching your videos appears to have me wanting more than I got here.

Then I ended my night of wandering the Internet, with the Fearology Centre page on the Apocatastasis Institute website.

Fisher: This is my latest ‘center within a center’ project, as I was invited by John Coleman, after he did an interview with me on his podcast on the topic of fear(ology) some months ago. This recent implant at the Apocatastasis Institute for the Humanities, is a humble initiative in the realm of alternatives in higher education. I look forward to working there as one of my sites of teaching/learning/activism in the world.

CB: At The Fearology Centerpage, I worked more or less from the bottom of the page to the top and ended with your video about "Education and Trust.” This video is very resonant for me. Hearing one of your favourite quotes from Albert Camus (1946) re: the 20 century will be “the century of fear” is a good one. I have heard you refer to this quote before. For whatever reason it sunk in deeper for me this time around. You describing it as an achievement for humanity maybe is what did it. 

You also talked about Erik Erikson which resonated partly because I have picked up some of his work previously and have also been interested in it. For me it is an extension/companion of Maslow's needs hierarchy. I guess I like to categorize things. More personally, the ideas around the fundamental aspect of mistrust vs trust, or fear vs love, kind of hit home for me.


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This is one of many of my visionary conceptual mappings for an "institute" of some kind on this planet that can serve to do the fearwork needed. This one is from 2015. 

ADDENDUM: You can read my 2001 paper "Fearology: The Biography of an Idea" by searching this title on Google Scholar for a free pdf download from PRISM digital library University of Calgary

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As some of you may know, and others not, I have been studying systematically the essence of reality, and Truth, Beauty and Goodness since my early twenties. I pursued much of that way of knowledge as a "naturalist" and "life scientist" and Darwinian evolutionist--but my curiosity always led me into other fields beyond biology and natural history and then into the interior depths of psychology and philosophy, mythology, spirituality, arts/aesthetics and so on. At age 71, I can reflect on these travels I have made into Knowledge, Knowing and Understanding. I am an integrator of 'big synthesis' patterns within patterns and connections within connections... 

Okay, there's my brief bio, rather informally of why I become a "fearologist" eventually, as to be then equally interested in "fearlessness." The Fearlessness Movement is one of the terms I have coined along this journey of journeys to invent and discover 'better' ways to live on this planet. This beautiful earthly existences of course is also filled with suffering and construction and destruction are part of our everyday experience. I am well aware not I, nor ideology, nor ideals and wishes can change the fact that 'I' am not in control, nor is anyone else nor is our social structures and cultures. Therefore, with all these things in mind as backdrop to the play... Let me very briefly introduce you to my Big Four Inventions (again, they are really discoveries, uncoveries, models, theories, practices, ethics)--all part of my growing and developing a generative and healthy philosophy of LIFE. 

Note: The below summaries are only bare minimum sketches (I have included some resource links to my work that goes into them more deeply)

These are somewhat linear and historically accurate in their 'evolving' to the surface as expressions (findings)--yet, I am well aware that my inner creative and emergent thought around these four inventions are highly interconnected and no one comes before the other). 


INVENTION ONE (1982-3): Uni-Bicentric Theorem

Although I did not know what to call this theorem (which was a drawing at first), in the early stages, it was a mock-up image of FLOW in the universe (or, more accurately, the Earthly world experiential and theoretical relationship to the Universe). I was in a sense ready and searching for a big pattern to 'map out' and display of how things flow in an order of things, you could say. That the universe, and our experience as humans (and all living things, perhaps even non-living things) does operate in a pattern, not chaos in any total or random sense, but there 'is order' to what is going on. My entire eco-biological and natural history observing and study prior to 1982 was steeped in this admiration for 'design' in Nature--and yes, for 'intelligence' in Nature. I loved that with passion, and found it beautiful, true and good, in some sense. But it was only in this 1982-3 period when I first discovered the philosophy of Ken Wilber. I did not know anything about him and his work at the time. I discovered one book, and I saw a diagram in it of the Flow of the Universe (from an interior perspective of consciousness). Wilber is primarily a Zen (and beyond that) consciousness theorist and practitioner and had published many works since 1972. And, it was seeing this one diagram he had in the book that made me study it and modify it over several years, but ultimately it came back to the same place. I was also influenced by the philosophy of the 'seer' Rudolf Steiner and Carl Jung (to name a few) prior to 1982, and "pattern" as "form" and deep within the invisible interior of consciousness and evolution, this was really interesting to me. I am always looking at "form" of things not just content on the surface. The diagram I stuck with was a great 'story' of how LIFE and HUMAN existence (in particular) goes through patterns, some healthy, some pathological. 

The basic resource (form) of this is articulated on the FM ning (and other places, e.g.):  https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/reconfigurations-of-the-love-fear-problem

As you can see, I was later to add "Love vs. Fear" problem to the original diagram of the Flow. 

 INVENTION TWO (1984): Thought Experiment A-ness/D-ness

After massive study of many fields of knowledge, and a deeply engrained and instinctual attraction to aesthetics/arts and making, I came finally to a way to depict a lot of the intellectual and philosophical and value problems I saw that were 'killing us' here on this planet. It was the year 1984 per se, as I recall, when I was attracted to put my artistic skills together with a method of "philosophical" work, more specifically often referred to as a "thought experiment." I was thinking in meta-patterns (meta-cognitively), and attempting to understand general ways of creation-making (i.e., of solving problems, of creating solutions): "How would God (a Creator) go about creation object x?" The most simply object x (standing for literally anything), would be simplified in this thought experiment to something I could draw and color with simple art materials (e.g., colored pencil and paper--later, I added black felt pen and ruler). I won't go into the long description and subtelty here of what all transpired but I basically was able to arrive at only four (paradigmatic) distinctly different ways of coloring and drawing a rectangular shape (i.e., object x). I have displayed this as a model called A-ness/D-ness (visual metaphoric assessment tool) in many publications and talks over the years. You can search the FM ning site in the upper right corner search box "A-ness/D-ness" or just "A-ness" or "D-ness" alone and it should bring up some more information for you to get a better flavor of this first of my discovery/inventions--and, in many ways, I think it is my best one overall in my career as a thinker/designer/inventor/educator. You of course, may or may not find this so interesting. It has never been to me without a great curiosity of all that it can teach us humans. 

Some links to more on A-ness/D-ness (e.g.):  https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearless-intimacy-an-aesthetic-assessment-tool

 INVENTION THREE (1990s-2000s): Love-Fearlessness-Fear Trialectic

This is an invention hard to pin down to an exact date of appearance but it was most importantly post-ISOF. I mean after the arising spontaneously of my co-visionary experience with Catherine in late 1989. We birthed the In Search of Fearlessness Project (ISOF). It was to be a counter movement to undermine the Fear Project (as I called it then) and to offer new vision for a better way to live e.g., "path of fearlessness." That's a long story to be found elsewhere for those who search for it. The more refined theory that came (again, a model of meta-patterning of the way Life works)--came as a trialectic model of Love vs. Fear as the problem I was trying to solve. It's a long time problem in the wisdom traditons not unsimilar to the Good vs. Evil problem on this planet. Anyways, the short of this invention came by using the Uni-Bicentric "form" (see Invention One) and combining it and creating a simplified relationship between Love, Fearlessness, Fear --as dialectical and trialectical as a dynamic of growth and development (of movements in life forms)--and, underlying this was to assert that the "path of fearlessness" is extremely important to understand if we want to shift the world from a world dominated by and toxified by fear-based living with love-based living. Again, this is an ethical project and fearlessness was the key, I thought to solving the binary division of Love vs. Fear. 

Some links to more on this trialectic (e.g.): https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fisher-s-four-paradigms-human-condition


Fearanalysis is probably my most basic invention, and it is a take-off variant of psychoanalysis. Fearanalysis is my unique way of studying fear(ology)(ism). I have been since late 1989 and co-founding In Search of Fearlessness Project (another fifth invention really), and a Research Institute by that same name, always looking to develop a new and needed (critical) methodology to study fear (and fearlessness). Every other discipline and approach to studying fear that I had found in the literature, was inadequate to my mind. This is still so to this day. So, I'll call it fearanalysis as my fourth big invention, with a closely related term feariatry (see below). 

Some links to more on this (e.g.,): https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/fearanalysis-2-wilber-s-induction-to-terror-management-theory





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R. Michael Fisher (updated) CV

Some people have asked about my most updated cvRMF2024.doc (professional academic resume). So, I will make it available here. I have also an CVArt RMF.DOC

Note 1. WIKIPEDIA buffs out there, you may want to create a Wikipedia page on my name and/or "Fearlessness Movement," or "In Search of Fearlessness Project". This still needs to be done in order to recognize this fearwork for historical purposes in a vast encyclopedia form. [p.s. I'd be happy to help organize this but someone else will have to take it on as a project and ; contact: r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail.com

Note 2. Also for Wikipedia there is a need for pages on "Fearology" ; some other links on the FM ning show some of the early work I did in 2015- onward trying to start a Fearlessness Movement Wikipedia entry; go to for e.g.: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/new-wikipedia-entry-fearism

and https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/forum/fearlessness-movement-wikipedia-version-summary



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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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Review of book, by R. Michael Fisher, Philosophy of Fearism: A Primer, published by Xlibris, 2022.

Nicola Tenerelli

Università degli Studi Aldo Moro, Bari


 "The problem is not the fact of dying, but the Fear of Death, that feeling that so disturbs us and prevents us from achieving inner serenity. How to fight it? Epicurus' solution is this: When there is us, there is no death. And vice versa." (Epistle to Meneceus, 124-127)

"We could say that this book is the Manifesto of Fearology." -N. Tenerelli

The philosopher of Samos took refuge in ataraxia, but his answer highlighted his awareness: the real human dilemma is the problem of Fear, which is more important than death.

We can say that if there is phobos, there is no logos; in the presence of Fear, full rationality is lost, so it is impossible to give an ultimate answer.

Answering the question what is Fear? is in itself an exhaustive operation, a philosophical question.

That is why the question what is Fear is among the first questions a human being asks - right after the fateful one: why is there Being and not rather nothingness? -.

The question what is Fear is both theoretical and practical; it represents the meeting point between utilitarian rationality and primordial sentiment. For Severino (1929-2020), philosophy stems from ancestral Fear (thauma): if we could know what Fear is, we could know Being: if we could answer - what is Fear? - philosophy would not exist.

Philosophical thought has always moved on the boundary between the known and the hidden, and it has always sought to erode this seemingly insurmountable limit. Every revealed truth (aletheia) is once again hidden, veiled twice: re-veiled, in effect!

In Heideggerian terms, the gap between what a human knows and what he can never know must be maintained so that Being is preserved: so he does not fall into nihilism - the claim to be able to discover the truth conceals the will to nullify Being -.

Firstly, the question what is Fear is a foundational question because it relates the subject to its deepest interiority.

Secondly, just as importantly, the incommensurability of the question - what is Fear - relaunches philosophy, both because it shows that philosophical thought is indispensable and because it gives meaning to the limited existence of human beings and their desire to improve.

  1. Michael Fisher is a thinker who has devoted all his studies expressly to the subject of Fear, author of the essay Philosophy of Fearism. A primer, published by Xlibris; this volume is intended to introduce even non-specialists in the discipline to this field of philosophy that arose - a further merit of Fisher's - outside institutional and academic circles.

The essay is a presentation of the Philosophy of Fearism and its disseminators; R. Michael Fisher, a Canadian, is the most authoritative representative of this philosophical current; other philosophers of Fearism, the Nepalese Desh Subba and the New Yorker Samuel Nathan Gillian Jr. (1939-2016), all of whom were fellow travellers encountered by chance during their decades of study, are mentioned in the essay.We could say that this book is the Manifesto of Fearology. Evidence of this is the subtitle, Primer, which also implies the first coat of paint that is applied to the canvas to prepare it for painting - let us not forget that Fisher is an artist.

 "Glossaries in fearist books are unsystematic, although useful — but, for research purposes there is not yet enough conformity to know exactly what is what in the whole domain of terms and concepts and theories under the umbrella of a philosophy of Fearism. With this caveat in mind, the reader is advised to not become overly concerned about all the technical terms right away and also not to try to change them, without spending a good amount of time studying the philosophy of Fearism. It may take years to really get the feel for what this philosophy is all about." (p. 50)

 We are obviously dealing with a philosophical text, so no one expects an easy read, but Fisher has propped up his essay with a series of twenty-one Frequently Asked Questions to answer what Fearism is and help the reader who wants to approach this study.

Fisher wants to make it clear, above all, that the Philosophy of Fear is not a utilitarian theory and does not intend to offer a recipe that will free people from such a strenuous feeling/research.

Furthermore, the proposed (Fearism) Philosophy of Fear is not a substitute for abstract existentialism because, on the contrary, it originates as a real need of the philosopher.

In the text, some of the necessary prerequisites for approaching the Philosophy of Fear are suggested:

- need to be humble when it is appropriate to learn something 'new' from everyone;

-  need to study current theories in order to understand that this is a social philosophy that requires disciplined enquiry and research-based focus,

- need a maturity beyond one's own selfish needs, and, subsequently, an engagement with the community of other fearists;

- need to know methods/techniques derived from theories that enfold themselves with this philosophy;

- need to take risks and be honest intellectually.

The 'risk' that Fisher speaks of is the one that all intellectuals incur: studying a lot and always feeling dissatisfied; not being considered by a social system that favours telegenic faces and monetisable ideas.

The reader, however, can be assured that the study of Fear can lead every human beyond his/her inner boundaries.

 "Fear is a mystery. It is as vast as the universe... It constitutes an impact on human tendency, action, and activities. Human activities done knowingly and unknowingly are heading towards it... The fearist perspective is a new dimension to look at life and the world... The purpose behind fearism [and fearists’ work] is to conduct continuous research, investigation, and invention in order to make life more comfortable." (quoting Desh Subba in Fisher's Introduction, p. 1)  


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"Fearology" Get's a Positive Mention

I'm pleased to see that an article came out recently, with a mention of "Fearology" and my work on this, in relation to the life of Marcus Garvey and Intergenerational Trauma" (by Philip Geoffrey). I've taken the relevant excerpt here:

intergenerational trauma is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which first victims passed their trauma to their children through a series of problematic behaviors[1]. As Bezo notes, “Each generation seemed to kind of learn from the previous one, with survivors telling children, ‘Don’t trust others, don’t trust the world.[2]” These behaviors, rooted in fear of a reoccurrence of the initial trauma, if left unchecked, are often revealed in symptoms such as learned helplessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, self-harm, and depression.

Fearology and the RIA Method

One of the most exciting developments in psychology has been in Fearology, a “transdisciplinary study of the interrelationship between fear and the human experience.[3]” The conceptual framework developed by R. Michael Fisher has been advanced by Dr. Mary Poffenroth, who, in a recent interview, outlined methods she has used to “teach people about how to create strategies around fear”: “The first step is just recognizing what's going on. And then the second step would be identifying it, kind of like ‘name it to claim it. And then the A is going to be to address. What kind of strategies do you need to manage outcomes for this?[4]

Now, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Some have called fear a gift because it is survival-based[5]. However, the instinctive caution in a dangerous situation can become a liability when the threat is no longer present.

Marcus Garvey, who was never a fearful man, witnessed firsthand the effects of fear on his family and the debilitating effects that it had on them and worked hard to remove fear-based behaviors from his life. As he stated in Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, “FEAR is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men.[6]

[article is available at http://marcusandtheamazons.blogspot.com]


[Note: I am glad fearology and my definition are given their due, but it is inaccurate to assume this is a "development in psychology" as my very definition of fearology is "transdisciplinary"--also, my conceptual framework has not "been advanced by Dr. Mary Poffenroth" actually, as she is using "fearology" but virtually totally within a biomedical and psychological conceptual and traditional disciplinary lens; as well, I do not support Garvey's definition of fear, for several reasons]

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This image comes from the documentary movie "Childhood 2.0" free to watch on Youtube--highly recommend. Any use of new technologies that 'hook' people into addictive relationships with social media are a definite empirical 'danger' to their mental health (levels of fear/anxiety depression) linked to self-esteem--and, in worst cases, the research shows social media for these young people especially is a major cause of suicide (deaths) and/or suicidal ideation. The graph above is a pretty clear indicator of the more social media forms that come available, the more fear is created in your people (due to violence online, in many forms)--and, then the results are no longer just speculation. 

As a fearologist, this kind of data, plus my own intuition, my own experiences with children and teens, etc., shows me that such young people (and it starts early in ages 7 onward for the most part) are incredibly sensitive to the fear of social rejection (or simply rating schemas that the social media designs have built-in to allow one to compare everyone with everyone very quickly and quantitatively, especially by the use of "Likes" measures, which are insidious devices which ought to be banned). But we all know the "tool" is not the problem, it is how we use it.

Families especially today have a major challenge to figure out how to keep connected between the generation gaps, teachers as well, and eventually we'll have to all admit (my request) we 'are scaring ourselves to death' by these computer technologies (especially use of social media) that create a cocktail for emotional disaster for young people. Ernest Becker, the great cultural anthropologist pretty much found in his research that "fear of death" and "self-esteem maintainance" are the 2 greatest motivators and shapers of human behavior. The nuance here is, fear of social death (i.e., exclusion, drop in status, etc.) is the greatest fear because it hits on the death fear and social fear and those hit on the self-esteem fear (loss)--and, a downward cycle results. The paradox is that parents generally believe the cell-phone, for e.g., is such a great "safety" device to keep kids secure, and so on; but real data like in the movie Childhood 2.0 shows that the online environment is more dangerous to the health of a young person than the outside world by a longshot. Check it out. 

The whole addiction cycle involved here--the addiction to security (and use of such devices 'in-hand' all the time like a milk bottle)--is creating the most frightened and depressed young people this world has ever seen en mass, no matter what culture, class, gender, etc. It is a ubiquitous Fear Problem at its base--and, thus, fearology has a lot to contribute to the analysis and solutions. 


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Fearosis: Ernest Becker's Theory of Health

As a fearologist, also practicing feariatry (and fearanalysis)--all part of the philosophy and psychology of fear(ism) and fearlessness, it behooves me to take seriously any writer's work that probes deeply into the "human condition" (or "human situation" as Aldous Huxley called it [1]) and search for roots to the human problem--human predicament--to human contradictions--and, ultimately to theorize (at least) a way beyond those great problems and limitations, if not pathologies--onward to 'better' thinking about who and what we are and how to achieve as Ernest Becker named it--"Health as an Ideal" (even if, it is impossible to achieve under world and environmental conditions) [2]. For recent discussion of Becker & Education (theorizing) go to: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/educators-engaging-ernest-becker-s-philosophy-terror-and-its-role

I won't go into the finer details and complexities of Ernest Becker's particular offering (following somewhat Kierkegaard, then Otto Rank) of a theory of health (and illhealth--that is, neurosis) but I want to let readers themselves scan the couple pages I pulled from Becker's (1973) Pulitzer Prize winning book on the human condition and the nature and role of fear (of death) as fundamental. Yet, in these couple pages with my years of going back over and marking and commenting many times, you'll have a sense that Becker's theory of neurosis is based on a "natural" philosophical, theological and psychological approach--where he does not want to make "neurosis" (in his definition, at least) 'bad' or 'wrong' per se--but rather he seems to construct neurosis as based in three problems (largely, but not entirely, beyond the will-control of human beings and their society's functions): (1) the problem of character-formation, (2) the problem of reality vs. illusion and (3) historical [environmental] circumstance. In these two pages there is enough richness to follow and dwell with to keep a theorist like me busy for years. What did come out of this reading this morning is a new fear(ology) term for the way Becker (rather uniquely) defines and makes meaning to "neurosis" in the largest sense--which, I so appreciate the way he does this. The new term is fearosis

Although, I would perhaps be inclined to be offering (in initial stages) a theory for fearosis which no one has yet done on the planet (using this word fearosis)--it behooves me to acknowledge the insight of B. Maria Kumar, in fact, who first coined the term and it has been published in Fisher (2020): 

fearosis- (BMK) the pathological state of chronic excess fear at the base of neurosis and/or psychosis (p. 13). [3]



 You'll see in my notes at various times, I have both embraced the Beckerian theory and critiqued it for some serious flaws, and, yet, I acknowledge I am not at all a Beckerian scholar, so my critiques still need to be studied and critiqued themselves. I welcome others to do so. I am convinced however, that Becker's work offers immense value to our current world dilemmas--our wicked problems and the need for new solutions that are more than band-aids. He is after solutions that come from deep analysis of not only individuals but of culture itself [4]. I have often claimed in my work that how he talks about culture in general, even at times naturalizing it and that that is just the way culture is--it is neurotic--and humans are neurotic and always will be (more or less)--he is talking about the "culture of fear" (dominated by fearism-t) and, yet, I believe he has limitations of seeing this himself--now, perhaps, that limitation on his part is due to him dying so early in his career at 50 and in 1974--as his own historical context of the early 1970s was just the beginning of a slowly increasing exacerbation of the predicaments and crises that humanity was going to have to face in the 1980s- through to 21st century. Becker just didn't have the near 50 years more (as I have had) to see where the culture of fear dynamic was going to grow--and thus, fearosis was going to grow in unbelievable proportions. 

Okay, I'll leave this here for now. 


1. Huxley, A. (1977). The human situation. Lectures at Santa Barbara, 1959. Harper & Row. 

2. Becker, E. (1973/97). The denial of death. Free Press/Simon & Schuster, p. 198.

3. Fisher, R. M. (2020). New fear vocabulary. International Journal of Fear Studies, 1(2), 10-14.

4. I think on of Becker's most powerful indictments (analyses) is of culture itself as a buffering defense mechanism to terror, to vulnerability, to hyper-awarenss of this animal-human that can perceive and imagine the future so intimately and (often accurately)--especially, in the psychological sense of imagining one's own final demise (death)--if not one's suffering and those of the one's we love. Becker's cultural thesis presents a case, of a culture (dynamic) that really is essential to contextualize how humans behave. He calls it above in the passage the "cultural project" which is formed by several forces (fearosis included) and which is unique somewhat too due to various cultural and historical settings--yet, he is onto a universal understanding (a kind of socioculturalanalysis) and I appreciate it. I think he's quite accurate. The "cultural project" has many other dimensions and terms used by Becker (and Rank) of which particularly of interest is "Immortality Project" (which I have recently written a technical paper on, soon to be available). I go further in my recent thought to revisioning what culture is as Immortality Transference Formation (ITF)--as a foundational psycho-cultural unit of evolution itself in the Cultural and Spiritual domains of existence. 

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First Principle: Not Reducing Fear

Thank you Piergiacomo severini for an initial response to my question re: the philosophical discussion of Hobbes, and the nature and role of fear, and other things, that has been going on the FM ning of late. There are several things we could discuss from Piergiacomo's Comment. I offer a group of us take this on to respond to him. 

I will start this thread by saying Piergiacomo offers something like a first principle on the contemporary philosophy of fear, and it is a cautionary: to avoid in most cases to reduce fear by definition, by meaning, by application to phenomenon.

This principle would overcome the problems of reductionism that methodologically (e.g., epistemologically) have a history. Reductionism is indeed, in my view one of the great forces (patterns), and habits, of a particular mindset, worldview, values sytem, beliefs, whereby a complex phenomenon is reduced (overly) to a simple phenomenon. And, my research shows that "fear" is particularly susceptible to this reductionism in our past as a species and currently this still predominates. However, there are some good signs that things are changing a bit in the direction of giving fear its due conceptual, theoretical and philosophical regard so as to avoid reductionism and critique reductionism of fear when it occurs. I would like FM ning members to give this all a good consideration and offer your views and knowledge about this topic. Who are good thinkers we could follow in this regard, be they philosophical sources, or otherwise. 

The very positing of a first principle of non-reductionism of fear is at the basis of my own research on fear and fearlessness. I have gone so far as to suggest that ultimately we have to be more interdisciplinary in our discussions about fear and beyond even that, we ought to be more transdisciplinary (e.g., you can read my work on justifying this principle and direction via my writing on the 'Fear' Project, 'Fear' Studies, on fearology (and fearism), fearanalysis, and fearlessness, for starters. My use of the term 'fear' (with the ' marks) is one of a rare exploration on the topic of fear, and I believe offers a sign of resistance to the hegemony of reductionism of fear, amongst other things. My view is thus constructed on an emancipatory knowledge and methodological basis, not merely a functionalist-pragmatic one. 

I look forward to hearing more on this topic, and I do not expect that it has to be a discussion all about my initiatives. 

I also think there are many things in Piergiacomo's Comment(s), and others here, that could be explored and questioned. 



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So there are many issues I am critical of when any Authority assigns itself to "protect" the people (often, meaning, protect the State power/authority/order): it is political as well as a psychological situation re: our health as citizens. Long ago researchers have shown that "shock doctrine" policies and "crisis" politics is a big power/business construction that is manipulative of people, mainly by using their fear and inserting (more or less) forms of authoritarian propaganda to add to the hypnosis of the moment when people are scared/terrified etc. There is basically a danger of transgressing (excessively) human rights in these situations of declared "emergency state" or "pandemic" etc. See one author who has snooped this out already around the coronavirus... https://nationalpost.com/opinion/marni-soupcoff-outbreaks-are-not-an-excuse-to-trample-on-our-rights.

As critical citizens, we have to be questioning of all Authority, no matter in what situation. One doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist but one has to be vigilant to oppression that is subtle and systemic--and has been historically used against people's freedoms. For more background on mis-uses of "emergency time" constructions by Authorities and repercussions, see the great book by critical pedagogy Henry A. Giroux (2003). "The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear" (NY: Palgrave/Macmillan). 




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I am inviting any new students out there to apply for The Fearology Institute Course TFI-118 "Expanding the Fear Imaginary". If you want to learn more about TFI just enter "The Fearology Institute" into the search box on the front (upper right) of the FM ning home page and you'll get several articles I have written about it. 

Since a year ago opening, I have had five students attempt to do the course TFI-118 as a start to their program but for various reasons only 1 student has followed through and is soon to graduate from that course. It is an online program and thus people have to make priorities and be disciplined to make it through the course. I look forward to new students in the 2019-20 season. Email me for more information: r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail [dot] com

For an Introduction (video) to TFI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVWD7IjJ2iM

For an updated TFI Program Brochure of full details: 

Contact: thefearologyinstitute [at] gmail [dot] com


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2019     Fearlessness Teacher, [an interview of R. Michael Fisher, by Kevin Barrett of Truth Jihad Radio at  


 Show Descriptor:

 Jan. 26, 2019. Then in the final half hour R. Michael Fisher, author of Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer joins the show. Michael recently wrote me:

Hey Kevin,… wanted to let you know I have responded on a 26 min. video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kuEEJltp0o to the “stand off” between Nick Sandmann (16 yr old white Catholic student) and Nathan Phillips (Indigenous elder) in Washington this past wknd… a viral spectacle event that needs to be brought into an educational context of higher grounds in learning about fear and fearlessness and their role in this world… hope you can take a peek at this and feel free to pass it on to others who might be interested in a fearanalysis of this event …  -thanks, -M.


 [Interview with RMF begins at the remaining 26:43 min. point of the full 90 min. show]

 Bio: Dr. Kevin Barrett (KB) is a left-leaning Muslim anarchist, Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, holds advanced degrees in English Literature, French Literature, and African Literature, and is the author of multiple books which deconstructs the "war on terror". Dr. Barrett has been a Muslim since 1993. Blacklisted from teaching in the University of Wisconsin system since 2006 for questioning the events of 9/11, Dr. Barrett now hosts radio shows and is a public speaker.

 KB: What’s a “Fearlessness Teacher”? Sounds like a great concept because, as we’ve been discussing it seems like people are being paralyzed by fear. How do you teach fearlessness? If you could patent that and put it in a medicine bottle and put it out there that’s pretty much what we all need. So, let’s get into it right now with R. Michael Fisher. How’s it going?

M: Hi Kevin. Well, there’s a notion that you’ll see every once in awhile in the literature, I just was reading a quote: “Fear is a disease of the mind, just as cancer is a disease of the body. And you know that has been around as a discourse or way of thinking about and imagining fear for quite awhile, and certainly the Western world. And so one of the things in my investigations on fear which started back in 1989 systematically, was that I found the Eastern views and then later I found that the Indigenous views don’t quite use that same kind of language, like “fear is a disease of the mind” and so on, it’s very catchy. And there’s no doubt some truth to it, Kevin, but I found it is a more nuanced game and so it’s a little harder to put in a bottle

KB: Interesting. In Islam of course, we want to inculcate [Arabic term] which is sometimes translated as pious God-fearingness, others would translate it as God-consciousness but there is an element of awe-struck, call it fear if you want but it is really a lot deeper than ordinary fear when you are dealing with [Arabic term] but we’re not really supposed to be dominated by our petty egotistical fears. That’s what we’re trying to get rid of as we overcome our ego, the evil- side of our ego, the ego that orders or commands evil. Do you see it that way? Our desiring egos that often desire things that are not so good, are the source of the lower consciousness out of which fear sort of operates?

M: Yeah, so the way I would look at that is that there’s a spirit of fearlessness in the world. I start with that assumption. What is that spirit of fearlessness? I start with this dictum, and this again comes from a lot of reading and thinking that when fear appears, which it will, so does the spirit of fearlessness with it. Which is sort of like that arising possibility of handling, managing and self-regulating fear because no organism wants to be in fear for too long. It’s just not healthy for the body right, it’s like distress as it starts to cause breakdown of the system.

KB: It’s like fight-flight response with all the adrenalin?

M: Yeah, That would be the sort of easy one that we recognize, sort of gross in a way, because it’s so powerful when you get that adrenalin hit, the flight-fight response and/or freeze and so but what I was interested in looking at is that ego is involved because ego is part of consciousness development. We start with a pre-egoic structure of consciousness, you could say, before the self is fully developed, so very early in life, and then the ego starts to develop and the it gets very attached to many things, and many traditions talk about the attachment of the ego as the real problem not the ego itself. That’s where you get this fear-based self-defensive always trying to maintain your self-esteem and trying to maintain that self-esteem within a particular mileu of a culture or a social structure....

KB: This sort of leads us to that topic of the confrontation on the national mall between the white high school kids the Native American elder with the drum.

M: Yeah, it definitely does and I call that in my classification system, along the spectrum of the spirit of fearlessness, there’s a spectrum, that one of the first stages is “No Fear” and that’s to me that stage basically before you are born, before you come out into the world and get your umbilical cord clipped and somebody puts you over here and all of a sudden the world’s cold, there’s bright lights and big noises so then we start entering the fear. So that first response to fear, via the spirit of fearlessness is what I call bravery. And that’s how I classified when I looked at that tape over and over again of this Catholic high school boy confronting the Indigenous person and I said wow, what a great example of bravery but I want to just add the nuance, like all things, good things like the spirit of fearlessness it can be twisted, it can turn into a more pathological and/or immature form. And so the bravery that was really arising, was because he [the Catholic youth], this is my definition of it really, Kevin, bravery is when you sort of do things that you aren’t really planning or expecting to do and you just happen to be there in the right place and the right moment and something comes out of you and you do it, some sort of very brave act. However, later you look back and say, and actually this young man said this in an interview, I kind of wished I didn’t do that, like I kind of wish we would have backed-off and went our own way. So he did it, why? Because of the environmental condition of social reinforcement or positive reinforcement....

KB: So let’s get empirical here about what your interpretation is of sort of what really happened here. So, the original assumption, when people saw this picture or brief video, was that they thought that this gang of Trump loving high school kids had sort of surrounded and harassed the Native American Elder and had gotten in his face and he responded by just drumming. Which makes him the hero and the white Catholic school boys are the bad guys. But then it turns out that the Native American guy had actually gotten in the face of that white kid, he approached him drumming drumming drumming up to his face and the white kid had just not backed down and just stood there. Which my first hour guest Kevin MacDonald sees the white kid as being heroic. But to me this is kind of an interesting confrontation of these two sides that are confronting someone that they find, perhaps,  fear-inducing and that they don’t understand and in a sense they are both heroic. They are kind of just standing there and not backing down, doing their thing. But at the same time there’s kind of a problem in that their not communicating empathetically and rationally, their coming out of tribal egos, so what’s your interpretation?

M: I think that’s a really good point, that they did both move into bravery for various reasons and so we could analyze that but what I was then interested in was when does bravery move to courage or courageousness? And even a moral courageousness? And then when does courageousness move into fearlessness? And this is what Four Arrows and I, from the Indigenous perspective he studies, is what is that shift? And what I would say the big shift of difference was that the young man, he’s basically got all his guys cheering behind him, you know 200 or whatever, so he’s going to be heroic in that moment in what I’d call bravery. But not necessarily he took a lot of time or thought to think internally and develop this kind of moral courageousness that could take him to a possible point of fearlessness, which in fearlessness the whole motive is then to connect to make a connection in relationality in a communication for higher possibility for higher integration beyond those egos, beyond even those ethnic, cultural backgrounds, value structures, left – right, whatever it might be, secular or Christian vs. Indigenous etc. And so I think the Indigenous elder was in quite a different positioning, even though he stepped forward he felt he needed to do this and he was moving toward he thought was probably the higher moral ground and I would say that was fearlessness because he stayed in the communication of connection to his ancestors and a spiritual sacred song. And that song was a song basically of, yes, we’re here to resist oppression but also here to connect and create unity, and he actually said that at one point. Connect-unity. This is a song of unity that I sang. Well, the young man did not have all that thought going on, he had a lot of adrenalin and a whole lot of adrenalin behind him. It makes sense, it’s kind of like the sports team, it could be war team ready to pump themselves up to get ready to go out and do the heroic battle.

KB: Interesting analysis. I think the Native American guy, the drummer, said, that what he thought he was doing was protecting these black Israelites or something there was kind of a hand-full of these young black who were caught on video yelling insults at the white high school boys but of course they were grossly out-numbered by the white high school boys and so the Native American guy thought he was protecting those black guys. So it’s a very interesting kind of situation where it’s not that clear how it developed. It’s not like an obvious good guys vs. bad guys or aggressors vs. defenders kind of situation.

M: And that really brings me to, I think it is great to discuss this on media itself because of what media does with these kinds of spectacles. I mean I am saying it is an important spectacle but if we just stay with the spectacle of who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy, who’s the real hero, who’s is not. Well, those are really ancient very simple binary narratives of what is going on. And what I was much more interested in, and that’s why I am glad to talk to you on air about this, what do those kinds of narratives and discussions, if you just put all that media together in one big ball, I look at it from my point of view as a fearologist, and I call myself that, self-defined, is that I go, the level of conversation about understanding fear and this path that I’ve arced out from bravery to courage to fearlessness and even to fearless at the highest level of maturity and consciousness. It just shows me that we don’t have a vocabulary for it in the West, is my argument, and that is what my work is about is trying to get more discernment about when is it bravery, when is it moving to courageousness, when is it moving to fearlessness? And again, it’s not like that’s good and that’s bad it’s like it’s actually developmental and that’s the discernment I think we need, is we need to see the developmental differences and then we need to teach that. Those young guys, I’d love to see them have a curriculum that actually helps them understand the nature and role of fear, how fear becomes part of a psychological, biological complex and then is also a part of a cultural and political complex and the history with it. And then how is that different than say to the Indigenous perspective and how they’ve come to understand fear. And, what I wanted to say right at the beginning is that the Indigenous Peoples, as Four Arrows and others have summarized in general, and Indigenous perspective, not to disrespect the diversity and differences in Indigenous Peoples, but fear is seen as the opportunity to a higher virtue. It’s the opportunity to practice a higher virtue. And you can see that right, it’s even in the West, in the more dominant culture of yeah it’s good to be courageous, we generally think that is a cool thing to be heroic but what we don’t understand is that that is not the end of the road. That’s not the end of the developmental spectrum, that I’m speaking to. That’s why I think we need to bring in this language of Fearlessness and even Fearless.  I arc that out in my writing and research.

KB: Very interesting stuff. Abdul Arif Muhammad in the ½ hr before you were on said that he thinks the war on free speech, which is what I talked about with Keven MacDonald in the first hour, is driven by these false flag events, and war-trigger events, that put us on a war footing and made us feel like we were under attack, 9/11 of course being the classic example, but just hard-wired the average American’s nervous system to be much more fearful. Martha Stout, has written a book called the “Paranoia Switch” in which she cites research that about ½ of the population of the US developed clinical post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] from watching those 9/11 images on television, so talk about a jolt of fear to the nervous system, 9/11 probably impacted the human nervous system more than any other event in history. And that fear that was intentionally injected into the world, and especially Americans on 9/11, as part of this very carefully thought out orchestrated false flag operation set the stage for the police-state, the fear-based police-state we’ve been living in ever since. When you go to the airport and the color-code for terror is up to Orange and been color-coded for Orange now for years if not decades; I can’t remember before we were living in a state of permanent Orange fear-color-coding. So, I think that your work on fear is probably more timely than ever, unfortunately.

M: Yeah, unfortunately. You know I was just talking to a Canadian friend, I would call her a liberal friend, very intelligent lady, and I was saying I’m trying to develop this program to make people more aware of how fear rules and controls our life, again, not just in a psychological level but sociological, political, historically, and that we could move from this notion of a culture of fear to actually bring in a vision and imaginary for a culture of fearlessness. What would that be like? So, I was talking to her just briefly on the phone and she said, well I don’t think most people actually think that fear rules their life. And I had to stop, and thought, if I was living in America, which I was in the last 9 years, before last year, I don’t think an American would say that so readily. And I thought is that part of being the Canadian, we’re neutral, quiet and hide, and I’m a Canadian, I live in Canada right now, and I just thought I think there is a huge difference between Canadian perspective and awareness and I actually think it is actually a bad thing in the sense that I think Americans are at least much more woken up, sorry you had to go through that guys and folks, you know the post-traumatic stuff but you know that’s the wake-up, that’s the symptom arising for the new possibility. So, if I go back to the Indigenous perspective, that wake up that post-traumatic we can look at it as all negative, negative, negative, that’s a typical Western clinical view, and then we can look at it as “whoa!” This is actually in the Indigenous perspective, the door way the possibility for this new [level] trajectory of the spirit of fearlessness, that arises in all that intense fear. So, when I see someone like that Indigenous elder drumming in a very heated, very potentially dangerous situation, and he said I’m afraid, I’m scared, like I was scared going out there—but he took a positionality of unity and utilized that fear in the virtue of both courageousness in a moral sense, and I would say onto the gift of fearlessness because really, I said to my wife, you know why those young guys are having so much trouble with him is because, they were so anxious, so anxious because they didn’t know how to code. They didn’t know how to communication code with this drumming scene from this Indigenous person, more or less, they tried to sort of dance a bit, they clapped a bit, you could see they would try and get into it. But then they got more into the jeering and the making fun of and I said that’s the moment they don’t understand where this is going. They actually don’t understand fearlessness and that’s very typical because they’re not educated to do so. Something like that would be my hypothesis.

KB: That’s a really interesting analysis. It departs from the partisan take on this...

M: Right.

KB: Where you have the certain sort of Left anti-Trump side that’s totally demonizing the kids and making the Native American guy out to be totally the hero, versus the other side, Kevin MacDonald seemed to see it pretty much the other way. I like your take, seeing the overall reactions from both sides and the fear and fearlessness, overcoming the fear, from both sides. That’s actually a much more interesting, and probably more accurate, way to look at it. It reminds me, of what you are saying about needing that injection of fear, having to go through that PTSD, actually having benefits, for US Americans. That reminds me of the plot line in “V for Vendetta” [movie] which is really about the female character EV getting over her fear. When the film opens she’s about to be raped by vicious goons from the National Security State, set up on the back of a 9/11 style false flag, and she goes through all this horror and trauma and emerges being trained in fearlessness by the comic book hero V. That film is about, what it is of course a dream-like meditation on the American people being traumatized by 9/11 and then hopefully waking up and becoming totally fearless and having a revolution. Of course, it is a dream fantasy and unfortunately that revolution hasn’t yet happened in reality but it’s a pretty good wish-fulfillment fantasy. So, yeah I think that trauma is there, it’s not just a crippling thing, trauma can also be a way to get over fear and get into that state of fearlessness and do great things. It seems like that is where your work is leading?

M: Yeah, it’s going to move us. You might not jump into Fearless right away. You might not jump into the fearlessness practices right away and capability. But you certainly will start moving along that direction when you take it on, right you take on that fear, even that terror. And you take it on as this is the challenge. This is the opportunity. And, again, unfortunately we don’t quite have a good worldview for that, usually what we try do with out worldview, Western worldview I’m talking about more in the modern sense, is try to eliminate that enemy, that Other, who is bringing up all that fear. And so you gotta find the scapegoat target and try to destroy it. And that just keeps us way way in a very immature state, and that’s not like a criticism, oh you’re all immature blah blah, no I’m not saying that, I’m just saying compassionately it will keep us in an immature state in relationship to this spirit of fearlessness and this movement from No Fear, to Bravery, to Courageousness, to Fearlessness to Fearless. So you can see why I arc that out and repeat that Kevin, is because we don’t have that imaginary. You called it sort of a fantasy, right through V for Vendetta, which I love that movie, for it was a transformation, a transformation that was both internal and it had possibilities for the external, we got to watch it in the fiction, that’s what art is for. Thank goodness. And yet that imaginary is still working. It actually starts our new vocabulary, a new imaginary for possibilities, so I like to use expanding our imaginary on fear and fearlessness and yes, if you want to call it a fantasy in a way that’s maybe useful to but I actually think it is getting imagination for the possibility and unfortunately in the West, for example if I was to pick up the Bible, if I was to pick up pretty much any of the Abrahamic traditions and I’ve looked, they don’t have the word fearlessness, at least not when interpreted in English, I’m not a scholar in that direction, but you won’t find the word fearlessness in there, is what you get over and over is “Fear Not!” or “Be Not Afraid!” Well what’s that about? That’s saying we are meant in this deepest spiritual part of ourselves to follow this path, this path of Fearlessness, but not a lot of nuance in those literatures, and that’s just because of where they come from, in their time and their history, the information they were drawing upon, but I use that term path of Fearlessness as a developmental process.

KB: Very interesting. Anyways, in Islam there’s the phrase “they will fear not, neither shall they grieve” which is about the state the good people get to and I think that it is both getting to paradise but it’s also about that state of [Arabic term ?] meaning peaceful soul, which is really what Islam is about getting to in this life, is having a peaceful soul. And those that get to that ... they’ll fear not neither shall they grieve. So you founded fearology [laughs], as a ...

M: Yeah.

KB: I wonder how that intersects with Lt. Dave Grossman’s killology? The US Army guy who studied killing and what people go through. All the research shows that the vast majority of soldiers have never been able to kill. They have to have the extreme Pavlovian conditioning to get the majority of soldiers to be able to kill. In Korea, half of the US soldiers would purposely try to kill up from 10% in World War II. And by Vietnam it was 80-90% but they came back with horrible trauma. So, anyways, the killology is really interesting stuff. Grossman’s book “On Killing” is absolutely essential. So, how does fearology intersect with killology?

M: Well certainly, I actually communicated with Mr. Grossman quite a few years ago because I was fascinated with his idea and we had some correspondence and he sent me his audio tape. Yeah, he talks about fear as well and he also talks about really what I saw as a state, a state we have to obtain in order to hold that gun, have your intention, and be very clear of what you are doing. If you don’t have that consciousness, that awareness, rather than I can just go kill somebody, no it’s actually be aware that you are going to be a killer and you better know how to be a killer otherwise get out of that business. So his training was I think quite along the lines of fearlessness. I actually found him very respectful in his work. What he didn’t do, where fearology takes off, and fearology develops this notion that true fearlessness, one of its main features is, to learn and know and study everything about fear that you can, in an ongoing sense, there is never an end to it and that to me is the sacred commitment to both healing and developing to our highest potential. And I think the Biblical quotes or the quotes you just gave from your tradition and background, I think that’s what it means, it means without grief, that to me I resonate with as, that means that I’ve done my grieving work, I don’t hold myself in an immature state of unhealed grief because that will cause constant fear-based life. So, something like that.

KB: That’s beautiful. You know I need to look at your books, I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’ve seen your video and Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows, sounds great. Four Arrows is a hero of mine. He’s one of the really great figures to come out of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Anybody who doesn’t know about him should learn about him. Maybe your book would be a good place to start?

M: I think it is a nice one. It’s an intellectual biography, so it is called Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer, it was a 2.5 yr project of him and I sending a lot of emails back and forth, and me studying his work and I would definitely say he is probably one of the most advanced thinkers from a fearologist’s point of view, on fear today. Because he integrates the East, the West, he integrates all his military background, his training with horse and wild horses, extreme sports, he’s a hypnotherapist, he just has this great richness, and that’s why that book was so fun. So there’s a lot of stories in there but then there’s also my theory and my framework so I think a reader could kinda get enough of me but enough of Four Arrows to make an interesting read, not so theoretical.

KB: Well, I’m going to try and get my hands on it. Hey thanks so much Michael Fisher, I appreciate your very interesting stimulating work and I’m planning to learn about more of it and read your book and I’ll probably get you back on the air to talk about it.


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I'd certainly rather talk about a much lighter topic than the near (potential) devastation of planet earth due to climate change and global warming caused by humans (e.g., CO2 and changing the surface of the earth so much it absorbs more heat)...

In the last few days myself and Barbara have been going through our own "existential crisis" as if it feels like at some point we just (really) GOT! the information of what is happening on the planet re: global warming and the reluctance of too many government and business leaders to ignore the impacts, when they could make substantial changes re: the biggest polluters, if they had the will to do so. Which means, if they had the moral courage, in the face of great social fear of being fully "green," of perhaps losing friends and losing money (at first)... and so on. It's risky to make the moral change in times like this.

I think the fearologists of the future (and today) will have to do their homework and really come up with ways to intervene in the way social fear gets in the way from all kinds of people and institutions changing in major ways. We need a (r)evolution of fearlessness. But over the last decade or so, even with calls for such radical shifts and such fearlessness, there is enormous inertia to do so. I find it a type of 'evil' that knows the problem but refuses to do anything about it (or does very little, and too late). Basic Premise: I have long theorized that the more the "terror" the more "fearless" as a new management system will arise and evolve and be available... the living cosmos is incredibly gifted to handle distress, fear/terror--we have to learned to pay attention to it's beautiful and available Defense Intelligence--and learn to work with it, and to "push" any lesser forms of defensive behaviors and thoughts toward a threshold where transformation can occur. It is not about being "hopeful" or "optimistic" for me, it is a matter of looking at the data and theorizing what has been happening on the planet re: Defense Intelligence (and, that is way beyond just humans, to be sure)....

Tipping points re: climate change and crisis after crisis on the planetary scale (e.g., major storms, extreme climate)... are more or less here on our door step. What we have to realize first, and it will be a great grief to admit, that humans (overall) have done some good things in evolution for sure, but late-industrial humanity and especially the urbanites, have now to 'take on' responsibility. A new book offers many creative ideas ("arts") etc. of how to live on this damaged planet. Here is the write up from amazon.com

"Living on a damaged planet challenges who we are and where we live. This timely anthology calls on twenty eminent humanists and scientists to revitalize curiosity, observation, and transdisciplinary conversation about life on earth.

As human-induced environmental change threatens multispecies livability, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet puts forward a bold proposal: entangled histories, situated narratives, and thick descriptions offer urgent “arts of living.” Included are essays by scholars in anthropology, ecology, science studies, art, literature, and bioinformatics who posit critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene. The essays are organized around two key figures that also serve as the publication’s two openings: Ghosts, or landscapes haunted by the violences of modernity; and Monsters, or interspecies and intraspecies sociality. Ghosts and Monsters are tentacular, windy, and arboreal arts that invite readers to encounter ants, lichen, rocks, electrons, flying foxes, salmon, chestnut trees, mud volcanoes, border zones, graves, radioactive waste—in short, the wonders and terrors of an unintended epoch."

[extract from advertising on cover from "Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene" - note this is mostly an academic book]

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The Fearology Institute: Update

Students of Fearology... young and old, from around the globe... India, Africa, America, Europe, Canada... are leading the way to a 'new' way to critique, understand, and intervene in the global Fear Problem(s) of our times... 

Hello all who may be interested in The Fearology Institute (TFI) online higher education. I am pleased, as founder, director and main instructor, to share with you that we have five registered students taking the first course at TFI ("Expanding the Fear Imaginary")--and, some of these students are intending to take the full first-year program to train as a "fearologist." 

Since end of July 2018, the program at TFI is designed and slowly unfolding and evolving as I and the students learn about what it is going to become. There are no prior programs anywhere in the world on this new domain (field) of study and scholarship, that produce a professional certificate. I have designed "four core courses" and there are three streams of specialization students can pick after the first mandatory course (i.e., "Expanding the Fear Imaginary"). 

See my video "Introduction: The Fearology Institute" and/or you may find more info. on the program if you do a search (top right corner) on this FM ning site. 

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