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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.   

 

Notes

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

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Invoking Feariatry

This is a preliminary essay intended to invoke further interest in what Fisher & Subba (2016) have called feariatry; we defined it (a term first named by Subba (2014)): feariatry (feariatric) - refers to the study and application of fear-disease relations in the mental health and wellness fields; analogous to psychiatry and psychiatric [1]

"Feariatry" is one of the sub-branches of a triad under FEAROLOGY, the latter which is one of the triad ("three pillars") identified in Fisher & Subba (2016) as an Integral Model of Relationships that are important to health and wellness, liberation and a better way to understand fear and create new knowledge about fear (p. 141).  Feariatry has the least development conceptually (theoretically) and practically relative to the other triads. For previous writing on feariatry search this blog [2].  

What is Feariatry? 

This is an open question that has not near been answered in the short-life span (a couple of years) of its growth as a concept. I won't summarize here everything Subba has published on it nor myself. I merely want to share some of my latest thinking. Feariatry is a re-calibration of the nature and role of fear (utilizing a philosophy of fearism) within its applications to health and wellness, medicine, psychiatry, therapy and psychology. The impetus behind this concept (and field of inquiry and care service) has been that fear requires a 'new' revision from its place in these areas, especially the field of psychiatry. Subba and myself argue that most all mental health problems and/or disorders (e.g., phobias, and other disorders in the DSM-V Manual that psychiatrists and psychologists use) are basically at their roots different forms of "fear-disease" relations.

In other words, the ecology of fear has been messed up, made errors as a "defense system" or "motivation system" and the result of those errors (intrinsic and extrinsic) are psychopathologies of fear (often with physical pathologies). Fear is at their root cause, and therefore, fear management/education is their primary or at least important treatment. Psychiatry as it has developed in modern times, and its following under the Biomedical Paradigm (Model), has left us with a psychiatry that is not that attuned or well-informed to the way fear operates in psychopathologies in general and in particular psychopatholgies like phobias, etc. Obviously, psychiatry sees the powerful nature and role of fear in psychopathologies like neurosis, psychosis, phobias, panic, anxiety disorder, but in actual theory and operations of treatment psychiatry doesn't pay that much attention to how to best work with the ecology of fear as a whole system of dynamic interactions, both intrinsic and extrinsic, both individually and collectively, and objectively and subjectively--all operating as impacting on the way fear is shaping and controlling life process (including nearly all psychopathologies). 

Feariatry ought to include the best of what psychiatry has to offer, but it also ought not be caught following only, or being dominated by, psychiatry and the Biomedical Paradigm. Feariatry, like the philosophy of fearism, is something new in perspective--one that uses a "fearist perspective" or lens. There is to be an open-mindedness, creativity and imagination for fear like never before in history. In that sense, feariatry ought to be transdisciplinary in approach to gathering data, knowledge, and assessing outcomes of feariatric treatments on patients. Psychiatry and its domination of the definition of fear and ways of managing fear are seen now as too restrictive and dismissive of the findings of the philosophy of fearism. We want this relationship to change, and we want more dialogue between theorists and practitioners from psychiatry and feariatry. Well, fact is, we don't have any one practitioner at the moment who claims to be a feariatrist. There isn't yet training for them. Meaning, we don't have a curriculum and pedagogy already prepared and planned for such training of feariatrists. But it is slowly developing and I am personally very interested to help lead this work and teaching. 

What is the Biomedical Paradigm?

This is a long and complex topic. When I suggest (as have several other critics) that the field of Medicine (and Psychiatry) are deeply embedded in the assumptions, premises and culture of a paradigm of Science as supreme over other forms of knowing, knowledge, and paradigms--then, that's where there is a conflict that needs to be understood, with a history going way back. Anthropologists tell us that around the world there have been "medicines" and "medicine peoples" in all tribal cultures for most of human history. Indigenous medicine (as therapy) is ancient and has its own Indigenous science basis, which many Indigenous scholars are now reclaiming and documenting in writing. Most of that wisdom is oral tradition, passed on from masters to initiates. There has also in the last several decades been a challenge to Western Medicine by the Eastern approach to Medicine (or wellness and health). Again, this is a large topic, but the point is to say that the worldviews behind these different approaches have different value systems, beliefs, assumptions about reality, and about the way disease and cures are related. These different worldviews and their paradigms of operations are also different in how they view the nature of fear and how best to manage fear. They have different ways of theorizing the fear-diseases (i.e., what diseases or dis-eases are caused mainly by fear and which are not). 

The biomedical paradigm, at least in the Western world began in the early first millenium and especially in the 16th century, as "Science" was becoming thought by many (not all) to be the best method to find out the truth, to diagnose the true illness and find the true cure. Experimentation was systematized using new means of statistics, data analysis, validating procedures, etc. The history of diseases and cures is fascinating and gives one a larger perspective when practicing any kind of curing --therapy--etc. So, I encourage all psychiatrists and feariatrists to be philosophers and historians as well as practitioners. Keep an open mind, and especially with regard to the nature and role of fear in disease(s) and in health and cures. 

So, may feariatry move along and develop, and do so in part because of its open-dialogue with psychiatry. As for how hard that is going to be, I predict it will be very hard because psychiatry isn't very open in my experience to other paradigms for understanding medicine, wellness, health, therapy. Of course, I could be just as critical about Psychology today, especially in the Western world. 

I look forward to further dialogue. 

Notes: 

1. Fisher, R. M., & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris, p. 157. See also Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.

2. For e.g., I have written: "Advances in the Psychopathology of Fear" (FM blog Apr. 19/17); "Feariatry: A First Conceptual Map" (FM blog Aug. 26/16). 

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