love and fear (4)

Fisher's Four Paradigms: Human Condition

This Figure is my latest mapping of my own evolution of thought, philosophizing and theorizing about Love and Fear ... and, right to my latest version (Trialectic-Upgrade) which has emerged from my reading of Moreno's (1971/77) book (see my blog below). This has been 30 years of thinking critically about how to understand the "Human Condition" (and, concomitantly, how to understand "Human Nature" and "Human Potential"). I am convinced that without a good understanding of these relationships, there will be ineffective paradigms created for "managing" humankind and our future--especially, when we take into account the nature and role of Fear. Philosophy of Fearism (a la Subba) and Philosophy of Fearlessness (a la Fisher) and Philosophy of Fear (a la Eneyo etc.) ought to be very engaged with these four paradigms and/or adding more--around this deep search for understanding the primary forces of human meta-motivation. 

Of course, I am only giving you the barest skeletal diagrams here, as a small book could be written on describing the ontological details, rationale and potential applications  for each of these models and why they have evolved in my own thinking---and, I would argue they are each one an improvement upon the prior paradigm--a kind of evolutionary maturity is shown. For a general understanding of my own intellectual critique and evolution of the first 3 paradigms go to Fisher 2017 Radical Love.pdf" as it is an article published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. 


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Is the WHO organization spreading more fear dis-ease than it is preventing, while playing out their worst fears re: Epidemics?

This blog is all about the intersection of Health & Wellness and Fear. I see many research and career opportunities for people studying fear(ism). Here are 4 examples from one small local Alberta newspaper (March 16, 2018) [1] that show this intersection. I also know, in the West at least, there is a lot more available dollars and funding in the Health and Medical Field than any other field and they are likely to be more interested in fear and its impacts. There is a readiness for fearism studies awaiting. Now, to the four examples, and my brief critiques: 

Example 1: WHO is seemingly in its policies so overly exuberant to prevent disasters regarding "new" or "old" viruses and bacterial epidemices it has, according to this newspaper article (above) named "Disease X" as its priority. You have likely heard of Zika, SARS, Ebola, etc. but WHO has decided to name the worst epidemic disease before it is known. There is something really weird about that, even though they will tell us, as in this article, their rationale is to pre-prevent as much as possible the "next" outbreak that could threaten us. WHO is becoming like this major "security" company, organization, dominant voice and player in the role of fear and disease. Yes, as I read this article they want us to be afraid of the next unknown big killer disease before we know what it is. That's weird, and seems on the point of extreme dis-ease (fear-based) way of operating and making policies about world health. Even if their intention is good, which I trust it is, their means of getting there is dubious and I think adds more fear on the planet, and more fear adds more distress to people awaiting and trying to avoid getting sick from anything. More fear, more distress and worry, and guess what, one's immune system goes down in functioning because it is on chronic altert (worry mode) and that creates more susceptibility to infections. WHO is not paying attention to their own dysfunctional logic to create this "Disease X" as the unknown big killing epidemic disease. By calling it the unknown disease, listen to what the reporter of this article writes, and others will too as they spread the news of WHO and its listed "Disease X": "The WHO said Disease X could come from anywhere and strike at any time" and goes on to say (citing a scientific adviser to WHO) "it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before" and don't know how to treat and people will not be immune. On and on this newspaper article goes creating the fear of the unknown in all of us over something we don't know will happen but probably will, according to experts, and they are sure good at creating the worst case scenarios and then try to convince us we should trust WHO because they are so on top of protecting us or will try to do so... etc. As I say, this is a type of totalitarian thinking and authoritarian politics to health and wellness, that the world doesn't need, it only breeds more fear. This is a primary case, on a global scale, of fear appeal advertising at its worst. It creates dependency and fear of the unknown everywhere and anytime; it creates ghosts in our minds and lives, and this chronic fear distress is a fear-disease itself being spread by a global organization (WHO) that is supposed to be improving our health, not compromising it(?). 

 Example 2: ADDING HOPE TO FEAR(S) is about how to best boost people's motivation to be well, healthy, happy, while at the same time warning them of health risks. Adversting in the field of what is called "Health Education" or "Health Communications" is a topic of research and debate. The question and concern is how much "fear" should be induced to motivate people, and when is it too much or better to add "hope" (for e.g.) to create empowerment in the consumers of these advertisements and educational programs to promote well-being? This next article gives some research, and sides in favor that "Fear will get attention, but it is better to provide them with possible solutions." I won't give more details, but this article is pointing to research that is the exact opposite of the WHO strategy (above), thus, a contradiction in the health field as our health experts themselves may not be following their own research and best practices and advice(?)

 Example 3: Love and Fear debate is ongoing, and Desh and I have written about it in our book (Fisher and Subba, 2016), and I have done research on this debate for 28 years.  In this popular article the author opens with the lines: "Reject fear, choose love" --although, it is easier said than done. If we all did it the world would be a fantasy utopia and health and wellness and good relationships would abound. What the article does not analyze, other than an individual making a committed choice to follow love even when fear pulls them in the opposite direction, is the full nature of the Fear Problem in the first place. Because, it raises the issue about why love, if it is so great, hasn't kept us as a species out of the spiraling down the drain into major crises where clearly fear is ruling not love. My point, "fear" no matter how you look at it, isn't just a "choice" and that begins a whole other philosophical, psychological, historical, theological, sociological inquiry. Fearism is one more additional mode of inquiry into this debate, and of course, the author of this article doesn't mention fearism as a new perspective in the study of fear. Unfortunately, this binary simplification "love vs. fear" (as a choice) is really kindergarten education, better than nothing, but it leaves out more than one can imagine--or, more than I'd like to see be left out of our basic fear management/education on this planet. I can say, there is an huge amount of popular interest, writing, workshops, and teachings about love in relationships, and I am glad (somewhat) that fear is recognized as a most powerful, if not the most powerful, "emotion" in relationships that can be useful or be destructive. Trying to just replace by choice fear with love, however, is fallacious and reductionistic--it will work perhaps "a little" but not a lot. And, we need a lot more understanding about the nature of fear. Although, as I say that, I know there is a great swarm of advocates who will disagree and say "no you are wrong, we need mor understanding about the nature of love." Who is right? I say, and Desh and I have said, we need a dialectical methodology of fearism to study the love vs. fear problem. [see Fisher, R. M., & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.)

  Example 4: Pain Reduction: Fear Reduction is an article about the new research in medicine showing that use of opioids (e.g., methadone, heroine, etc.) cause worse symptoms regarding pain and anxiety problems than are helpful. The opioids are addictive and actually damage the biological systems own resilience to pain and fear. I suggest this is a great teaching to us all, and a critique of the field of Medicine overall, and a metaphor. Too much trying to take pain and fear away (as they are like twins), is not going to help in the long run. Of course, my complaint about the "pain" and opoid studies and the way the media covers this research, is that there is not enough talk about the fact that "fear" with "pain" is what the real problem is, and instead of just getting chronic pain (addicts) "off opoids" is not a solution but a moving the furniture around in the room. What these fear-patients need (a term Desh prefers, as does Feariatry, which we are working on), is attention on "fear" as the core of their problems, along with pain that goes with it. That's the larger discussion needed, is to look more closely at pain management within the context of fear management--then, we can really move forward as a society, and doctors who prescribe pharmaceuticals can readjust their paradigm of treatment, and truly follow the Hippocratic Oath they took in med schools, that is, to "cause no harm" in trying to help. Again, I believe there is a larger metaphor and teaching that goes to apply here to all of society, not just the field of medicine. Parenting and schooling and socialization in a culture of fear, a risk-avoidance society, etc. is the real problem. We end up teaching children, against their nature, to "fear pain" rather than truly come to understand it, themselves, and manage pain better: and, I could say the exact same thing with fear. Let's move this agenda of fearism forward because there are openings in the culture now, more than ever, to really find this new paradigm, perhaps it is a Fearlessness Paradigm, that can liberate.   



1. All articles are excerpted from ; (March 16-23, 2018), for educational purposes only. 

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Experience of Fear: "The Black Hole"

I just read Chapter 4 in a 2013 dissertation by Merlin B. Thompson, a musician and music educator [1]. This work is an excellent description of a phenomenological-hermeneutical inquiry into the practice of "authenticity" in teaching/learning experiences, but what most interested me is how the researcher was eventually confronted with what they did not previously in their 25 year career look at seriously or critically in a self-reflection. Thompson writes in Chapter 4, "I depart from the previous chapter's personal viewpoint to consider the implications of an additional concept that interrupted my research investigation into the relationship between authenticity and fear" (p. 16). 

I attach the dissertation for your reading, especially of Chapter 4 (and what Thompson comes to call "The Black Hole of Fear" experienced).

I end this short blog with a self-reflective discovery Thompson (2013) made: 

"Fear is not an abstract, objectified concept that somehow manages to superimpose itself upon an individual. Fear is the name given to intensely unpleasant, worrisome, and apprehensive real life reactions that individuals experience for themselves and about themselves. The individual's experience of fear acts like a kind of spotlight that illuminates or draws our attention toward characteristic features of who we are as individuals. Through fear--that is, the experiencing, addressing, overcoming, ignoring, and avoiding of fear--the individual gets important clues regarding one's self, no matter how accurate or inaccurate, noticed or unnoticed, complete or incomplete such clues might be. 

How we respond to fear gives us an indication of who we are as individuals....Fear stimulates or intensifies the individual's self-perception, not by validating or nurturing the individual, but by threatening or disrupting the individual's sense of personal safety and security. With the idea of fear as provoker of personal awareness and authentic disruption in mind, I return to the continuation of the above narrative." (p. 115)

"Looking back at my experience with the eruption of the black hole of fear, the subsequent recognition of a pattern of downgrade-downplay-denial, and finally the purposeful validation of fear as integral to my successful achievements, what stands out is that fear has played an ongoing role in my personal and professional life--much like a disruptive character who appears unexpectedly in the various chapters of my life narrative. More importantly, however, is the observation that the disruption of fear and my ability to accept fear into my life allowed me to develop both philosophical and practical resolutions to the uncertainty, insecurity, and failure associated with the experience of fear. 

Recognizing fear, not as an undesirable tension but as a characteristic of life, there is something appropriate, essential, and self-revealing about the experience of fear that speaks to who we are as human beings, to the individuals sense of self, to authenticity....fear functions as an agent of personal transformation. Fear operates as a catalyst for learning about one's self..." (p. 116)

[I am struck by Thompson's authentic self-reflection and vulnerability in disclosing their relationship to fear, and the turn around to realize Fear is so important to self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is confirming of Subba's philosophy of fearism. And, it reminds me of how the value of Love may also help this process of self-awareness and self-knowledge but Fear is at least equally important in that journey.]


1. Thompson, M. B. (2013). Authenticity, teaching relationships, and Suzuki. Unpublished dissertation. Calgary, AB: The University of Calgary.

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Here is my artist statement for "Error of Judgment" my latest art exhibition currently at the Vergette Gallery, S. Illinois Univ. Carbondale campus... if you are around hope you'll visit it this week (see Photo for invitation poster and details): 

artist statement


            “We still appear to be motivated primarily by the primitive dual forces of

            love and fear, and we still, for the most part, fear ‘the other’—the unknown

            the strange, the distant.”                                                                          -E. Kelly[1]         


Error of Judgment is an exhibition of mixed media paintings/drawings I have made between 2011-14. The white series of “evocative objects” and dark series of “near intimacies” have been shown prior but I thought it would be good to combine some of each of these exhibits under a new theme of ‘error of judgment’ which refers to many things, not the least of which is my ongoing life-project researching on the relationship of the two great meta-motivational forces of Love and Fear.

In this exhibition I wanted to bring my scientific and spiritual explorations together with my aesthetic practices, especially as exemplified in the 2011-14 period. It has been a long fascination how my different “minds” and disciplinary interests mostly stay in their own worlds, sometimes slide up along side each other, and sometimes clash. I think in this exhibition I have allowed them to crash. That makes for fertile territories made by arbitrary boundaries, marked by CAUTION signals that enter the gallery space—reminding us of the everyday spaces we occupy and transgress under the current politics of a culture of fear and surveillance. Feel free to go over, under, and beyond the boundaries to participate in this installation, as I continually attempt to do in how I come to understand my own art-making in spaces of discomfort as much as pleasure.

Maybe with your feedback (feel free to leave comments) and the week long exhibition, by Friday’s artist talk I’ll say more about how this crash all makes some sense (or not).




-R. Michael Fisher

Sept. 20, 2015

Carbondale, IL

[1] Excerpt from Kelly, E. (2005). Powerful times: Rising to the challenge of our uncertain world. Pearson Education.

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