systems perspective (2)

Sorry folks for the poor reproduction of this model I found on the Internet, it is the best version I can find, eventually I'll make another better copy. It is, as an integral fearologist (which I am), a nice quick (overly-simplified) complex systems model of how to look at crisis and crisis management of any one topic, in this case the maker (anonymous [1]) of this particular version used Wilber's Quadrant (Integral) model to apply to the "Eco-Crisis" globally. So, there is a macro-scale view being mapped out here as "terrains" (quadrants of reality) to attend to, at a minimum. I share this because I wish my colleagues and others on the FM ning to consider this model of analysis and critique. It is too much to go into detail here of all the dynamics and theory behind this model but if you are interested you can look up terms on the Internet or start discussion here on the the FM ning.

But HOW ABOUT APPLYING SUCH A MODEL IN LOOKING AT THE FEAR-CRISIS on this planet? Now, that would be a worthwhile project, a beginning, so that we can nuance our conversations (at times) around integral theory, more or less, and see what benefits that type of analysis may offer. Of course, one doesn't have to over-use this model either, and leave lots of open-ended approaches as well. Oh, btw, I am a staunch critic of the way these integral quadrant models are represented period, they distort many things, including that they are too clean and the lines shown ought to be dashed (boundary lines but porous) because the realities in each quadrant are co-emerging all the time in a total dynamic system (Reality). Anyways, this gives us a peek into the epistemic nature of inquiry that Ken Wilber's work has shown to offer and it has really helped my work on fear management for many years. 

I am particularly noticing in the Lower Left quadrant (LL) Crisis of Systems, there is a point of notice made re: "enforcement" (which brings forward the domain of dialogues going on right now between Subba, Kumar and myself on Fearcriminalalysis (and, my overlapping interest in also Fearpoliticology)... 


1. It is likely Sean Esjborn-Hargens and/or Michael Zimmerman, their website is where it was at one time but this website is no longer in service, and so, it may be in their big book entitled "Integral Ecology" (2009). 

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I have long argued in my work that to just look at fear(s) is a biased and distorted approach to fear management/education (FME). I have worked for 28 years to bring a more complete and dynamic view to the area of FME. Unfortunately, the resistance within the dominating fields of Psychology, Medicine (Psychiatry) and just about all 'normal' common sense discourses on "fear" tend to default (conveniently) to only a simplistic view and thus an incomplete ineffective FME.

Yes, I am a critic of all things to do with "fear" that get tossed around as 'the way it is' or 'this is the truth'--my approach is to question everything about fear--take the best, and scrap the rest. Ultimately, my goal is to come up with something better, of course. No easy task to "prove." It seems worth the effort to attempt the improvement because by all records and experience it is pretty clear to me (and a good number of other critics) that fear has got the better of us and our societies. I'm going to only speak here about the Western world (North American in particular where I have been born and grown up in). 

You ought to know that "proving" that something is better, as in a dynamic approach to FME, that challenges the status quo is going to scare people who already think they know the "best" ways to understand and manage fear. They have the supposedly 'proven' long track record. They often also have the status power positions in academic and research organizations and they have funding and assistants to do the research and write and publish. However, outside of that system of power/knowledge are the alternative and often critical approaches that are by people like myself with no funding for research, doing it all voluntarily and often alone without paid assistants. For the most part, it is this very real economic and status limitation that keeps much of my work in the hypothetical, philosophical and theoretical realm of argumentation. I have little empirical proof. However, I do have life experience and a lot of research but it is just not the usual kind that gets into the "scientific" kinds of journals of proving certain things about the nature and role of fear. 

The Problem of Human (Anthropocentricism) Fear Projection [1]

My point in this short blog is to bring up one part of my critique of just how simplistic and distortive (from my perspective) is the common discourse on fear(s). A 2014 article in a popular "scientific" magazine (Discover) on "Six Things We're Born to Fear" (like so many articles) goes on to tell of how "fear" was and still is instinctual, and that the same basic fears in humans are universal (e.g., fear of loud noise, fear of falling). The major interest in these articles is to confirm to us contemporary humans that we are not alone in being fearful--because all other creatures are too. It is genetic and predetermined. One biologist on a blog "Ask the Biologist" responded: "A baby bird in a nest is frightened of everything, which is sensible because they are almost completely helpless." Again, we hear the implicit justification for a very simplistic view, and defense mechanism, that it is natural to be fearful of everything (?)... or, at least most things. Evolution, say these biologists and psychologists, operates on the default mechanism to that is better to be cautious (aka "frightened") than not and trust only after you have learned it is okay to do so. [2]

There are many critiques to be made about this biopsychological and so-called evolutionary theory of "fear." I am more than skeptical when human beings living in a "culture of fear" today are projecting their fear onto Nature, and arguing that the bird chick in the nest is "frightened of everything"--as if this is all the time, and as if this is equivalent to human experience. How do we know what fear is for a bird chick? How do we know that the bird chick is in fear? Are we imposing our view (i.e., ecophobia) [3] and in particular our individual psychological perspective onto a bird chick in a nest. For the first thing, a bird chick is totally connected to its environment and its parents in an ontologically grounded and very trusting way. Fear is not its modus operandi of perceiving the world. Again, I won't go on and on with these points here. I want to merely raise them so that we are very cautious about projecting the word "fear" and how that concept/idea has been taught to us, and thinking that we can so completely assuredly, as the biologists and psychologists portray, make the claim that this is what the bird chick in the nest experiences. 

The Problem of One-Sidednes: Lack of a Dynamic Systems Perspective (and Fearlessness Movement)

The discourses so common in popular articles and in the discourses on fear by biologists and psychologists (for e.g.) fall into a naming and labeling of fears. They also fall into trying to set a preconditioned (genetic) default explanation for why creatures (supposedly) are mostly fearful most of the time. My own observations in Nature for 50+ years as a naturalist and ecologist, tell me that this is not the case. Creatures are on "alert" more or less, for sure. Nature is built on eat and be eaten; nothing escapes this. However, creatures in the wilds in my experience do not carry around a neuroses complex about danger and thus live in fear. The wild organisms are so attuned to a natural trust in all things they rely upon and live in with. They are so not "isolated" and "alienated" from Nature as humans as a species have become (again, I'm primarily talking about North American life-styles in the last millenium or so). There is little that can be compared between wild creatures and urban alienated human beings. 

The one-sidedness of the reports and advice on FME thus is obviously disconnected from the natural organismic systems that are going on. When a creature is in fear (e.g., running from a predator), which is rare, they are in a high alert response system that works to potentially free them from such a fate, but also at the same to which is working to heighten their spirit of fearlessness (as I call it). All my research shows that what has happened in evolutionary systems is a dynamic (dialectical) interplay of forces of Fear and forces of Fearlessness (of which, the latter has many forms, bravery, courage, and so on). There is no one without the other. They both always exist in a systems flow together, mutually working off of each other. The fearlessness aspect is one way to think of what I have called the Fearlessness Movement (a liberation process from a fear-based reality). The analogy (if not homology) is the fact that stress moves in organismic systems in a way that it is equally engaged with de-stressing natural mechanisms. Same with Fear, it has de-fearing mechanisms right there with it. I teach this in a phrase (law): When fear arises so then does fearlessness. 

My point, if you read 99% of the articles and books and listen to videos on fear(s) that are universal and natural in humans, etc., all there is in these articles is this documenting that's how fear is. There is no dialectical or complexification and systems perspective as I have said, a dynamic view is essential if we are to understand the nature and role of fear as best we can--that is, holistically. Of course, many of these simplistic approaches will try to pitch that you ought to will to be brave and courageous in the face of fear, or some will even say bravery and courage come with fear if we only tap into it (and, they are partially accurate)--but none that I have seen have a theory of the dialectical instinctual notion of the "spirit of fearlessness" as I do. I ask you to be very critical of all that 99% of the writing on fear(s). And, to be equally critical of my teaching and theorizing. Everything can be improved. Watch for Fear Projection via anthropocentricism, watch for the individual psychologizing of creatures in Nature (as if they think like humans today). And, as a learner of FME yourself, consider how we can better talk about Fear/Fearlessness in one breath--in one natural theory of FME, instead of separating these two components of living systems. 

I realize this is a brief picture and critique above. If you want the long version of my arguments for this dynamic relationship of Fear/Fearlessness and add even more complex components to it (via my Fear Management Systems Theory--which is really a meta-theory) go to my 2010 book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21s century (Lanham, MD: University Press of America). 

Of course, I'd be glad to enter discussion with any of you here on the FM ning about this most basic critique I've been creating... 


1. From a fearanalysis point of view (including psychoanalysis), defence mechanisms of Freud's work include "projection"--well, worth studying because it like all the defence mechanisms he uncovered in his work are fear-based (arguably). 

2. Underpinning my systems theory of Fear Management Systems is a hypothesis that in actuality "humans" (today) are the most fearful of all creatures in Nature and that the sooner we as a species admit this, we actually might learn the best lessons on fear management from Nature. This view is also somewhat (in part) held by my colleague Dr. Don Trent Jacobs (Four Arrows) and his Indigenous worldview perspective on Fear and Fearlessness. We have a new book coming out next year on this called "Fearless Engagement" (an intellectual biography of his life and work). He is one of the FM members. 

3. See the last several FM blogs on ecophobia as part of ecocriticism discourse today in the academy. 

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