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scientific and clinical reductiionism (1)

This is the first in what will be a short series of blogs I'll write on the "Brief History of Fearology" [1]. As you may know, I have recently posted on the FM ning Forum a piece about the vision of the Fearology Institute. This is only a vision [2] but may easily become a reality in history in the next decade. I will do everything I can to assist this growth and development and I appreciate any others who will help with this venture.

My task in this series is to articulate a comparison of Fearology with Sexology and Thanatology. The reasons for this comparative historical overview will become apparent as the series unfolds. In the first instance of historical facts that underlies the development of Fearology, I turn to the history of "fearuality" as a major turning point for humanity and it own self-awareness of the importance of the nature and role of fear (a similar importance as brought forth by Desh Subba with coining and elaborating the first text on philosophy of fearism [2] between 1999-2014 and beyond).

In Fisher (1998) I began a glossary where I defined two key terms relevant directly to this series of blogs. The first was: fearuality- "a term created in the early 1990's [by RMF] to give the study of 'fear' a serious forum and name. This term is used analogously with 'sexuality' which burgeoned only in the last few decades [but began to flourish post-WWII, see below] as a legitimate area of [specialized] study--the study of sex and sexual behavior. This term ['fearuality'] gradually evolved into transpersonal phobosology, and eventually in 1997 with phobosology" [see below] [4]

The second term in Fisher (1998) was phobosology- "is the 'study of 'fear' and its interrelationship' with Life. This new discipline was named in 1995 originally as "transpersonal phobosology" and renamed as [simply] "phobosology" in mid-1997 by Robert M. Fisher [RMF]. The roots of this focus of attention on a systematic study of 'fear' (and fearlessness) goes back to as early as 1993 when Fisher was calling this field fearuality that was a way to look at 'fear' and study it just like sexuality, the latter which had become a field to study the phenomenon of 'sex' in the late 20th century [even earlier; see below]. Both fields are intriguing because they involve topics that are almost like 'taboos,' and do not have serious critical discourses (though this has changed in the last 10 years). A taboo is a 'fear' of something and it is thus avoided. So, the taboo against knowing 'sex' (and sexuality) seemed an appropriate analogy to the taboo against knowing 'fear' (and fearuality). 'Fear' actually seems to do everything it can to not know itself." [5]

In Fisher (1998) I continued to mark out bits of philosophy, theory and history around phobosology, so I'll quote it all, including the first philosopher to comment on my notion of phobosology (before it became labeled fearology; see this blog series 2 coming soon on the use of fearology):

"Phobosology is the first discipline to grow out of the spectrum framework of the transpersonal theory of Ken Wilber (see Appendix IV). Phobosology applies the spectrum or integral theory of consciousness [a la Wilber] and attempts a synthesis of all the disciplines and ways of knowing 'fear'--honoring each approach as part of the Whole or Reality. For an overview of the literature on phobosology (see Fisher, 1997c) [6]. These are all publications by Fisher, for as yet no one else has declared themselves a phobosologist ('fear' hunter, 'fear' researcher per se). The field is very new and this encyclopedia [Fisher, 1998] is one of the more important contributions to the field of a systematic study of 'fear'. A key task of phobosology in the next while is to define 'fear.' For we have to know what we are talking about when we use the term, and when we explore the interrelationship of 'fear' with Life.

Currently Fisher is planning a professional international journal for phobosologists [7] and anyone interested in 'fear.' The journal is likely to be called 'Fear' Spectrum: A Critical Journal on the Nature and Role of 'Fear'. This field of inquiry takes an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to knowing 'fear.' The intention is to create a full scale public critical dialogue on 'fear' and its place in our society and future. All evidence seems to indicate that 'fear' is growing rapidly on this planet and we will have to learn much more about it. Ken Wilber, transpersonal [and integral] theorist wrote [after I sent him my brief proposal of this new field of study phobosology]:

Dear Robert, I think your transpersonal study of fear is a terrific idea. You are a meticulous researcher and the world would benefit considerably if you published all of this material that you have been collecting for over a decade--as well as your conceptual summary in terms of the fear spectrum. It all sounds great to me. My only negative criticism is the name, 'transpersonal phobosology'. That's a bit much... phobosology? Sounds like a disease of the nose. Anyway, good luck with this endeavor." - Ken Wilber, personal communication, 1995 [8]."

To end this first blog in this series on a brief history of Fearology, I draw your attention to an excerpt I took from the internet on the brief history of Sexology. Again, because from the beginning of my work in 1989 on fear (and 'fear') and fearlessness, the analogy of studying fear the way humans have studied sex, be it formally or informally, is useful. I like reading texts on sex and sexuality and sexology, then going in to the text and replacing the work sex with fear in all instances. This gives a kind of legitimation to the study of fear so seriously as have others done with sex. It always leaves me feeling more assured that someday, even with resistances (as you can read below in the history of sexology and taboos against knowing) that fearology will someday emerge as a distinct field of scholarship, professional practice and basic education for all. It must be added, of course, that thanatology (the study of death and human relationship to it) is also a similar analogy and taboo of sorts, which I will write about in another of this series of blogs.

So as you read the below, on sexology, try replacing fearology, and on sex, replacing fear, just to get a feel for how this analogy may be very useful in guiding future understandings and research on fearology. What is clear is that there is a politics of knowledge/power pervasive in any society and when it comes to taboo topics (e.g., sex, death, fear) there is going to be resistance to the development of awareness, education and knowledge that promotes better sex, death and fear management. It is of course to me an irony this is the case, because I also see that humanity (in the long run) also wants to advance its knowledge and skills in managing these topics.

[below excerpt from: http://www.davidmckenzie.ca/about-sexology/a-brief-history-of-sexology]:

"A Brief History Of Sexology

Clinical sexology has its roots in mid-19th Century England and Germany. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939), an English medical doctor, surgeon and sexologist, was one of the first researchers to challenge the sexual repression of the Victorian Age (generally considered to span the time of Queen Victoria's reign, 1819-1901) along with its taboo against masturbation (now considered by sex health experts to be a normal sexual behaviour, essential for healthy sexual development).

In 1919, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a German physician and clinical sexologist, founded the first Institute for Sexology in Berlin (Zentrum fur Sexualwissenschaft). The Institute accumulated a vast body of research on human sexual development as well as the treatment of sexual concerns and dysfunctions. It was the first such Institute to offer a clinic for the specific purpose of treating sexual problems.

On May 6, 1933, under orders from the Nazi High Command, Brownshirts broke into the Institute and carried away its vast collection of books, research material and clinical files to be destroyed at the infamous May 10, 1933 book burning on Berlin's Opera Square. The Institute was immediately closed. In passing, it must be stated that the later institutes, clinics and research of the great 20th century sexologists, Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy, and Masters and Johnsonhad their forerunner in Hirschfeld's Institute.

After World War II, there was a renaissance of sexology in both America and Europe. In 1948, Alfred Kinsey and his associates founded the Kinsey Institutefor sexual research at the University of Indiana. In 1967 and in 1970, medical researchers and sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson published their vast, groundbreaking research in two separate volumes entitled Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy. They also founded a teaching Institute and treatment clinic. In 1983, Humbolt-Univeritat zu Berlin opened the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology to the public.

The science of sexology is now a well established and widely taught discipline in many of the world's leading universities. If you are interested in discovering just how widespread sexological research is, please visit the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology Website. You will find an exhaustive resource for learning about sexology's history and scientific research, and more links to the growing worldwide list of universities and institutes studying clinical sexology."

Now, I'll include the Wikipedia brief summary of Sexology:

Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behaviors and functions.[1] The term sexology does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sexuality, such as political science or social criticism.[2][3]

Sexologists apply tools from several academic fields, such as biology, medicine, psychology, epidemiology, sociology, and criminology. Topics of study include sexual development (puberty), sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual relationships, sexual activities, paraphilias, atypical sexual interests. It also includes the study of sexuality across the lifespan, including child sexuality, puberty, adolescent sexuality, and sexuality among the elderly. Sexology also spans sexuality among the mentally and/or physically disabled. The sexological study of sexual dysfunctions and disorders, including erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, and pedophilia, are also mainstays.  [extract from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexology]

In the next series blog I will write a critique of these notions of sexology, of which I believe fearology can improve upon in its early conceptualizations in order not to fall into a [scientific and clinical] reductionism I interpret above in this discourse on sexology. Okay, until next time...

Notes:

1. An extensive history of fearology (before it was named this) has yet to be written but is very important to document. Some aspects of this history are available in my book (Fisher, 2010) where I arc out a transdisciiplinary and transcultural historical and evolutionary view of humans and their attempts to understand and manage fear. See Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. See also Subba (2014) for some historical overview of this as well [in end note 2.]

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

3. Historically, and arguably, one could say that the world's first fearology institute, before I used that naming structure with fearology as primary, was the 1991 In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute I founded in Calgary, AB, Canada. The ISOF Research Institute still exists and facilitates research scholarship, writing, teaching on all issues related to fear and fearlessness in the broadest and deepest sense--of which, fearology per se is only part of.

4. Fisher, R. M. (1998). 'Fear' encyclopedia. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute, p. 84.

5. Ibid., p. 75.

6. Fisher, R. M. (1997). Phobosology: A basic introduction to written materials. Unpubl. paper.

7. The latest version of such a journal is still alive in vision. See https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/steps-to-becoming-a-professional-fearologist

8. Fisher (1998), p. 75.

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