All Posts (422)

"Wicked Problem(s)" is a term that Watkins & Wilber (2015) use in juxtaposition to the term "Wise" (for wisdom applied) (1). Wicked is potentially 'evil' (live, spelled backwards) because of the immense destructivity it carries individually and collectively. So, the other meaning is extremely difficult--challenging, to solve. For reasons, less-restimulating around "wicked" (in our W. historical past) and thus, not feeding into the growing excesses of mounting of fear people are already downloading and storing everyday, I'll take the useful 'call out' from W & W (2015) in their welcomed new book and just call these W-problems. W-problems can stand for a whole lot of things--like, world's problems--that is, problems seen from a worldcentric stance (worldview) (2). The subtitle of W & W's book is "How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems." Unfortunately, as I wish to report how their model of the Integral matrix is key in my work as well, they have (like most everyone) left out the toughest of the toughest of problems to solve in the world today (4)--you guessed it--the Fear Problem. Btw, check my latest book coming out in a few weeks on this problem (3). 

A couple things about their book which I admit I have not read it, but I read the last couple pages, which is typically of me--last is first--then, I know what I am getting into that will affect my decision to read the whole book or not. But before I go into the Integral matrix discussion they enter around "climate change" (a big W-problem), I want to say it is a delight to see Wilber is still going strong in writing (5) (as he has been "off" publishing for near a decade more or less) and has in 2014 "co-founded Source Integral and began developing the Integral Society initiative, which in collaboration with recognized global experts, will demonstrate how to develop human societies in the most comprehensive manner possible" (p. 296. This is the first book Wilber has written so extensively with another author on "solving" problems (applied). I think he has come to see that all his theory books and philosophy writings have now come to be ready to be more applied than ever as the W-problems are heating up. Good for him and his crew. And, I think the dedication of the book is worth quoting, not only to represent Wilber's worldcentric stance (or "Integral stance", see p. 293) but to show where W & W (and the Integral Movement) is coming from (at least, by noble intention): 

"We would like to dedicate this book to all those men and women around the world who look beyond their own needs and what they might want in life and serve a greater purpose than themselves. The people who can see that all of the issues we face, even problems within their own family, are our problems not 'yours' or 'mine.' Such a[n] [Integral, systems] stance reveals a deep understanding of the fact that we are not separate from each other and solving the world's toughest problems will need all of us." 

Well, such a dedication is clarifying at the general level, and it is not unfamiliar to me, as many authors have said such things. I would like to clarify the language with a little critique (I'll be brief). First, W & W have not, unfortunately, tuned-up to a language of the postmodern re: gender as they are using a very old binary of "men and women" and they say "look beyond their own needs" which is really, more accurately, for some of us working at worldcentric (Integral stance) like myself never seemingly possible as I live at the poverty-line, as I know other such individuals do. W & W obviously do not either know what that is like to live on the 'edge' or they are oblivious that it is an important factor for some of us at worldcentric operations in our work. So, "beyond" really ought to be clarified more accurately as "include their own needs" but do so within the context that "their own" also means the "world's needs" simultaneously. Lastly, they ought not to have used "not 'yours' or 'mine'" because, again, as I made my point above, the problems are both/and-- very much mine and very much the world's problems. I think a more integral-language could have been used for the otherwise lovely Dedication. 

The main point of this post is to move to the last pages of the W & W book (i.e., Appendix 6: Environmental Dimensions of Climate Change). Note, even if "climate change" is the signified W-problem, I believe both W & W would be in agreement to say that most all of the generalizations (theory) applied in Appendix 6 could be applied to any W-problem in the book and beyond what's in the book. I make that assumption. The most important reason I make that assumption is because of my interest in applying the "Integral matrix" (p. 292) more or less in my critical integral fearology work. I have been doing this for some 20+ years. I have also not been able to convince Wilber that my work is important, meaning, that my/our/world work on the Fear Problem is qualifying of dignity as a W-problem. Again, it is ignored in this latest book, and Wilber well knows that I have introduced him to my work on this problem since the early 1990s (we corresponded). Be that as it may, let me proceed to make the linkages so you may see (perhaps) how powerful the Integral matrix and vision-logic (apersperspectival-integral consciousness) and worldcentric worldview is when applied to "fear" (i.e., the World's Fear Problem). Fearology, as I have crafted it over the decades, is as "wicked" of a methodology (a W-methodology) as is the W-problems--in particular, Fear Problem (see Fisher, 2010 (6)).

I agree with W & W that the book Integral Ecology is "brilliant" (p. 292). Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman (2009) produced an outstanding Integral assessment of the ecological and environmental problem(s) and the many diverse (often conflicting) individuals and groups trying to solve it. The assumption behind their book, following Wilber's basic Integral matrix conceptualization, is that (citing Esbjorn-Hargens) "No single method (e.g., level) can by itself 'see' or reveal climate change in its entirety." W & W reiterate (via Wilber's words) "You can't [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy." (p. 296). Integral matrix framework provides (arguably) the only and best truly Integral approach that values all the perspectives, fields, methods, and organizes them into a wise and compassionate model (a "theory of everything"; see, e.g., Wilber, 1996 (7)). Shift to the analogy (homology) of E & Z from "ecology" to "fearology"--and, at that point, everything you think you know about "fear" is about to change into multi-dimensional wickedness (dare, I say). And, I agree with E & Z and W & W that: "... our point in all of this is that wicked problems are wicked primarily because they are not approached from an equally wicked, complex, encompassing [i.e., aperspectival] multi-dimensional Integral stance" (p. 293).

I would add to this claim, which the "Integrals" never themselves seem to fully appreciate or write about, that anything less than such an Integral stance is one that is more fear-based than not, epistemologically. I make a long arduous case for that in my new book (see e.n. 3) and in all my publications on fearology. So, to again, play-off the work of W & W in Appendix 6, I am arguing that the human Fear Problem has never been solved, and fear ('fear') and fearism continue to plague us and distort our motivations (among other things). Continually, W & W call for this "subjective side" in our analysis and solutions to W-problems. E & Z did so as well, and they found in the literature, that over 200+ "ecologies" (i.e., "schools of ecology") can be identified (p. 292)--and, until we identify and embrace them, give them space on the table of legitimate partial truths in understanding the Big Ecology Problem-- there will be little and only fragmented progress solving the environmental (i.e., ecological) aspects of any problem, especially "climate change." Same with the Big Fearology Problem--and, I have not yet had the resources to classify the 200+ fearologies that exist, that is "schools" of thought in how they frame meaning of and identify the problem with "fear" (as a start). Each, more or less, with their own worldviews, own values, beliefs, facts, and so on. So, to conclude, if I get the support, I will lead this Integral matrix and stance further to study the Fear Problem--which is the motivational--I mean meta-motivational dynamic behind all the other problems (more or less) that W & W raise in their book. And yes, I too (theoretically) believe "Only by using an Integral Framework can we get a complete handle on the full extent of the challenge that climate change [fear problem] presents" (p. 293). 

So my friends, I trust this will give you a better understanding of the Fearlessness Movement and its work ahead. I end with Wilber (2015) from the Preface of W & W, which says in general what my whole blogpost here is about (except I would add "fearlessness" to the list of "more"): 

"The hope of both Alan and myself is that by using a more expanded, more inclusive 'Integral Coherence' model, a great range of new areas, dimensions, methods, fields, and approaches will be made available to you for a more comprehensive approach to whatever problems you might be facing--from the simplest to the most complex and wicked" (p. xvi)

End Notes

1. Watkins, A., and Wilber, K. (2015). Wicked and wise: How to solve the world's toughest problems. Chatham, Kent: Urbane Public. Ltd. 

2. Worldcentric, for simple identification, is a term Wilber particularly likes to use as operating when a personal or system/organization is focusing its attention, values, needs, actions, toward not just the body, self, ethnic/social grouping or institution, but the world (i.e., a global internationalist perspective, but also an ecological whole systems perspective that is evolutionary at its core). This level is developmentally called post-conventional in terms of (at least) cognition, affect, and moral capacities. Often it is called "integral" for short. See Wilber, the integral philosopher and theorist, in most any of his books, for more detail analysis of the different levels/stages of development. 

3. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2015). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris. 

4. The other thing I do before I even read the last pages of a book is to glance through the Index. I look for words like affect, anxiety, fear, terror(ism) and not a one of those terms shows up in the Index. That's not a good sign, in terms of a book on so-called W-problems. I think my point of this quickie fearanalysis will come through in the text above especially in terms of how the authors continually state how important "motivation" is in order to analyze and solve W-problems. 

5. This latest short bio on KW says, "... with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages... [he] is in the process of writing and publishing half a dozen new books" (p. 295)--now, that's impressive with someone struggling with all the physical limitations (and aging) he has to work with daily. You can look up Wilber's disease and such on the Internet (e.g., Ken Wilber, on Wikipedia as a start). 

6. I summarized my work (albeit, only a partial Integral matrix approach with focus on stages/levels) in a critical integral theory applied to fear and its management (via fearlessness) in 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.

7. Wilber, K. (1996). Brief history of everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Read more…

Albert Camus and Theoretical Fearology 2

If you note in the previous blogposting on the "art" I wrote Camus 1946... and that reference is to his dictum I'll share below, one I discovered in grad school eons ago... 

It has been one of the guiding quotes, poetic, philosophic, political, historical... and educational... of which I have not found one quote to equal its power on me... and of which I cite often in my work, almost like a signature "sound" that Beethoven or some musician might put on all their work, and most would not notice it. Here it is, something translated from Fr. which he wrote from the underground movement (The Resistance) in France during the Nazi Occupation, and it was published c. 1946 in the underground newspaper Combat: 

THE 17TH CENTURY WAS THE CENTURY OF MATHEMATICS;

THE 18TH CENTURY THAT OF PHYSICS;

THE 19TH CENTURY OF BIOLOGY; AND

THE 20TH CENTURY IS THE CENTURY OF FEAR. 

I always add my own last line: The 21st century is the century of terror. Yet, what does this mean to me? It means that I am as much a mathematician, physicist, biologist and now fearologist attempting to make some new great discovery for the century of which I have lived. I call myself at times a theoretical fearologist and nobody gets it. 

What is there to get? I simply ask that one reads my work with the same sincerity as all of the knowledge pursuits of the last 300+ yrs. I ask that people reflect on what Camus's quote and insight may mean? I have interpreted it many ways, but the simplest is... if the 20th century has turned out to be a century of fear then we ought to really study that as the new discipline of importance--thus, I have called for fearology, and 'Fear' Studies, etc. So far, this has little been taken seriously. 

The next powerful quote that has stayed with me (and there are others too) is from the scholar Ruth N. Anshen in the mid-1960s as she was describing the shifting emphasis to which knowledge itself ought to be used--all in the context of the crises in the 20th century that were pointing to a rather gloomy future for humankind. She wrote, "Knowledge... no longer consists in a manipulation of man [sic] and nature of opposite forces, nor in the reduction of data to statistical order, but is a means of liberating [hu]mankind from the destructive power of fear." 

Put Camus's discovery together with Anshen's conclusion... and we are in the realm of prophetic vision and work, of which I have documented here, and will do so in the future--like a graffiti artist... like a madman... like a shaman... like a mailman... always with a message at your door, if you open it up!

Read more…

String Theory and Theoretical Fearology 1

Just watched the "Elegant Universe" PBS series on a DVD with Barbara. We get DVDs from the SIU library for free, and often pick up science documentaries like this one on the new physics of "string theory" as a potential "theory of everything" to explain the entire universe, with nothing excluded from such an explanation in one unified theory... well, when I was watching it, much of the aesthetics of the string theory representations in a way reminded me of the more "solid" universe in the drawing I did spontaneously a week ago and then the less "solid" with the black lines on top -- looking a lot like "strings" as the new physicists were describing. Is this just an "accident"? Well not that I care that much if I was attuning to strings in the sense of physics, I was exploring in these spontaneous colorings aesthetics more than anything... and it is not surprising to me that "elegance" (a notion of beauty) is a term physicists use when in this aesthetic modulation/register... so, I wrote some notes on this "art" piece to complete it based on my experience of the documentary. Yes, point being, I am so much dedicated like these physicists to "discovering" something not before discovered... I can't seem to help it... 

Read more…

Fearanalysis a Forensic Craft

I have just published Technical Paper No. 56 "Fearanalysis: Further Notes From a Forensic Craft" which I thought you might be interested in. Below is the Abstract of this paper and it can be downloaded from http://csiie.org/mod/page/view.php?id=3 (scroll down)... 

Fearanalysis: Further Notes From a Forensic Craft

- R. Michael Fisher,[1] Ph.D.

                                                                                                                      ©2015

                                                                                                           Technical Paper No. 56

 Abstract

The advancement of the methodology and praxis called fearanalysis by the author for the past 20 years, is a process of application, theorizing, and then refining the craft. It is becoming evident that in many ways (not all) the work of fearanalysis is in large part forensic—among its many forms of interrogation. Its primary critical inquiry is to reveal the uses (and mis-uses) of language that has anything to do with making meaning of fear—especially in the social realm. The author draws upon Ken Wilber’s discussion of the unconscious (repressed) in language (and linguistic formation) and its power—not unlike the “discourse” of language that Michel Foucault presented in his philosophy and theories of the ways we talk about subjects/topics over time and across cultures. Fearanalysis, in particular, unique among the methodologies that “study fear” is a critical discourse analysis of the “language” and “linguistics” of fear itself. This becomes even more complicated, methodologically (and epistemologically) when the author has posited within the study he calls fearology the necessity of cataloguing the dynamic (morphing) “forms,” “types” and “species” of fear itself—which, has led to his strategic and powerful use of the notion of ‘fear’ (including, but beyond fear). Simply, fearanalysis has taken on a forensic study of the “crimes” of language (and their sociocultural embedded status within a “culture of fear”) that involves fear—be that fear directly stated, or implied. All of which fearanalysis is one of the many tools the author has created to critique and improve fear management/education on the planet. These notes are an attempt to convey some of the author’s latest thinking, in lieu of a longer project eventually to write a full-length book Introduction to Fearanalysis.   



[1] Fisher is co-founder of In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ) and Research Institute (1991- ) of which archives can be found at http://www.feareducation.com (click on "Projects"). He is also founder of the Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education (http://csiie.org), and is Department Head at CSIIE of Integral & 'Fear' Studies. He is an independent scholar, public intellectual and pedagogue, author, consultant, researcher, coach, artist and Principal of his own company (http://loveandfearsolutions.com). He can be reached at: rmfisher.88@frontier.com

Read more…

"Fearism" Preserved Synopsis- by RMF

Annoyingly, a second time, Wikipedia (editors) have chosen, without reason, to remove the "Fearism" article I so carefully crafted and posted on their site as "Sandbox" meaning it is under progress. They have never done this with my "Fearlessness Movement" Wikipedia but just recently have I noticed the "Fearism" one is gone. So, I will post it here as an important archival document they cannot touch. -enjoy, M. 

FEARISM  -Wikipedia   August, 30/15

 

[page under construction] [note: although an E-W balanced perspective is attempted, this is still largely a W. biased article at this point]

FEARISM

Contributing to and/or countering the human Fear Problem (1), fearism is a phenomena and core idea with many concepts used with increasing prevalence in the 21st century in some scholarly, theoretical, and popular discourses. Respectively, it serves the intention to label a movement, philosophy, and/or ideology that either focuses on fear as the "most important consciousness [aspect] in life" motivating and shaping our lives (2), or it is used disparagingly to criticize those who appear to overly-focus and obsess on fear(s)--that is, "fearists" (3)--and, the latter thus creating acts of fear-mongering and/or an unnecessarily "negative" view of humanity, history, existence and fear itself.

Contents: 1. History 2. Philosophy, Theory, Practice 3. See Also 4. References

HISTORY

Although [Subba] (4) a philosopher, poet and novelist (from Nepal, living in Hong Kong) is supposed to be "The first to coin the word fearism" (5) in 1999 (6), R. Michael Fisher, a Canadian self-proclaimed integral fearologist and educator (7) coined it two years earlier in 1997 (8). Fisher used the term frequently after 9/11, 2001 (9). Since the publication of Subba's 2014 first English translation of his thoughts, in Philosophy of Fearism (10), Fisher (living in the US, developing a philosophy of fearlessness since 1989) and Subba joined their philosophies into one philosophy of fearism in 2015 in a new book based on their intertextual E. W. dialogue. They wrote: "Fisher recalls that excitement because reading Subba's book was like looking in a mirror across the expanse of the globe. We had so much in common to talk about. At last, it felt like each of us had found the other's equal in focus on fear as a serious philosophical and yet, practical part of our lives. We have our differences in studying fear [and conceiving fearism]... but we are focusing in this book mostly on our agreements. We want to build strong foundations of commonality and then later explore and critique each other's work and engage other critiques as well from scholars, professionals, and laypersons" (11).

Although Fisher, a scholar, and Subba, a writer, have used the term fearism by far more than anyone else, there are, according to Fisher's research (12), four American and British scholars (at least) known to have used fearism as a concept (once each in a journal article) in the field of Social Sciences, beginning as early 1997 (same year as Fisher coined it) and then in 2003, 2010, 2014. Kalir (2014) is the only author-scholar (other than Fisher, or Subba) to have used fearism in the title of their work (13). The 2014 and 2010 uses by W. scholars are citations directly of Fisher's work and his conceptualization of fearism (14).

Popular culture (e.g., Internet) uses of the term are sometimes (unreliably) difficult to determine by date (or place) of which they appeared. It is not a common expression, but it is also one recognized by many in pop culture. Anonymous (2009) wrote "Fearism Story: Fear of Others" on a blog (15). Olmsted (a blogger) in 2010 connected "old racism" conception to "new fearism," concluding: "Hate is so last century; it has been replaced by fear."(16) There are many others writing on the Internet using the term fearism (or fear-ism).


PHILOSOPHY, THEORY, PRACTICE

The most common way "fearism" is used comes from popular culture, as opposed to more rigorous scholarly and/or literary writing. In the popular domain (e.g., Internet) there are ample definitions of fearism offered, which are all similar in their disparaging view; for e.g., Orosco (n.d.), blogging as a member and spokesperson of a Latina Spiritual Liberation Movement, wrote: "When we live by fear, it imposes itself on our decisions about manifesting our dreams, maintaining our health or even when we love. Fear darkens our perception of the world, of others and of ourselves. This belief system based on fear is called Fearism" (17).

Although in basic agreement with this popular culture view of Orosco (n.d.), Desh Subba is a leading critical thinker and award-winning author/philosopher (18) (founder of Philosophy of Fearism and/or theory of fearism (19)) in the E. (Nepal), who takes a much more positive "fearist perspective" (20) on fearism in his analysis of the nature and role of fear on humans historically, today, and in the future. Subba wrote: "Fear was taken to be a negative factor yesterday [historically]. It has been negatively interpreted in many religious texts, philosophies, and literary texts. Fearism has a positive perspective towards it" (21). Subba concludes: “Fearism has a positive perspective.... Like Marxism and existentialism, fearism interprets both life and the world" with, more or less, emphasis on the role of fear (22); “Positive fear is essential to acquire success in life. Again, nothing is possible to do without fear" (23), yet, like in Fisher's philosophy of fearlessness (24) become a philosophy of fearism (in 2015), there is a "fearless path" (25) and "Fearless Age" (26) optimistically available for us all. Subba's primary suggested means of attaining freedom from unnecessary fear (i.e., fearless) is via mostly a philosophical attitude of rationalism (i.e., willed mental-cognitive changes), and accompanying (almost ascetic) choices of self-discipline (27).

However complementary Subba's general philosophy is to other philosophies (in part, a critical "Dephilosophy"), he (like Fisher) is also very critical of other philosophies (and religions) E. or W. for their lack of adequate acknowledgement of the pivotal role of fear and fearism--and thus, their shortcoming in offering a treatment to the Fear Problem. Subba's fearism (not unlike Fisher's fearlessness), is his recommended treatment (or practice), according to Long (2015), which "uses the concept of fearism as a therapy for everyone who wants to get rid of fear" (28). Subba's down-to-earth humanistic, secular communistic politics (29), practical and visionary philosophy of fearism has taken hold in parts of the E. like N.E. India and Nepal, primarily because of its roots in E. literary theory and practices and specifically because of its uniqueness in contribution: According to Bikram Bir Thapa: "His [Subba's] fearism will make [the] Nepali literary world and the world literature" something outstanding (30). Subba has described many who have been involved in setting up a Fearism Study Centre in Dharan, Nepal in August, 2009 (Chairman, Prof. Dr. Tanka Prasad Neupane and the poet, Vice-Chairman, MunaRaj Sherma). He has documented many lectures, courses, fiction and non-fiction publications in the E. (mostly in Nepali), but now being translated into several other E. and W. languages on fearism applications (31).

In the W., in contrast (partially) to Subba and his E. followers, R. Michael Fisher tells a slightly different story (and critique) of how fearism is theorized by W. scholars, including himself (preferring most recently a distinction of fearism-t as related but distinct from Subbaian fearism in its signification as 't' for "toxic" ideological more cultural-political form (32)). In Fisher (2014) and Fisher and Subba (forthcoming) he summarizes his research on uses of fearism by scholars, who (unlike Subba and Fisher) do not characteristically focus their professional careers on studying fear or fearism. Fisher's summary of such W. scholars suggests they all have a similar critique of W. society and culture that has aspects of it that are oppressive, and fearism is (like classism, racism, sexism) oppressive and violent in its operations--as Fisher's use of fearism (or now fearism-t) has been characterized by (33), since at least 1997. The current Fisher-Subba collaboration of one philosophy of fearism has altered Fisher's bias and turns more into a synthesis of the more positive E. form (use Subba et al) and negative W. form (use by W. scholars)--albeit, even in the E. there is no total agreement on the positive form (34). Fisher suggests diverse theories of fearism are required for the time being, thus, any differences in uses of the term fearism are not so important per se, yet in the future they may lead to something more: "As well as pursuing with Subba a philosophy of fearism [an umbrella conception], there ought to be sufficient space for a diversity of theories of fearism--if not, someday a more universal theory of fearism. I do not think we are there yet.... I craft [in Fisher, 2014] one particular theory of fearism... that ought to inform a generic philosophy of fearism [and visa versa]. It's a dialectical relationship" (35).


SEE ALSO

Fearlessness Movement


REFERENCES

1. Although many critical thinkers have identified the human "fear problem" (individually and collectively), including US President F.D. Roosevelt's 1941 declaration ["four freedoms"] (which, one is "freedom from fear,") and the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights (1948) including that "freedom from fear" as a human right, the most systematic scholarly treatment of the Fear Problem, within an evolutionary and developmental perspective is articulated in Fisher (2010:91, 92, 94). 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. 2. Long (2015) summarized Desh Subba's "philosophy of fearism" as operating on this premise. See Long, Y. (2015). Desh Subba Analyses Philosophy of Fearism in New Book. Retrieved August 13, 2015 from http://www.digitalproducer.com/article/Desh-Subba-analyses-Philosophy-of-Fearism-in-new-book-3694603 3. Within popular culture, for e.g., according to an online Urban Dictionary: "Fearist- [noun] "One who uses [fear-based] techniques such as improper spelling and grammar to intimidate others... political party, primarily consisting of gangsters [by George the Fearist, Sept. 02, 2010]. Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fearist. This popular interpretation (labeling) is very different than Desh Subba's more positively connotation (via, his "fearist perspective") developed in Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Xlibris, 11-12. 4. According to Rai (2011:49), Subba is well-known as a poet and writer in Nepal and India as one amongst several Nepali literary figures (like Yug Pathak, Shrawan Mukarung) who are "highly influenced by the socio-cultural and political revolution in Nepal [under the regime of the Shah]. They have a keen sense of interest and concern to the ignored and marginalized groups in Nepali society and history." Rai,J. K. (2011). Voice of the subaltern in Mukarung's Bise Nagarchiko Bayaana. Jodem: Journal of the Department of English, 3(3), 41-49. Mahendra Multiple Campus, Dharan. 5. According to Long (2015), cited in E.N.2. 6. According to Subba, he first introduced the term in Nepal in his 1999 novel manuscript entitled Bhayabad, and his reviewers were so taken with the term they encouraged him to keep writing on it, which he has ever since. The Nepali Bhayabad is published later [by Kitabghar Publications, Nepal in 2014]" (Subba in E.N. 54, in Fisher and Subba, forthcoming, p.129). Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (forthcoming). A philosophy of fearism: A first E-W dialogue. Xlibris. 7. See bio profile at Fearlessness Movement (Wikipedia). 8. Fisher (1997) was writing his own theory of fear and was summarizing Dorothy Rowe's work around "Fear Denied" in one of her chapters and Fisher wrote: "'Fear Denied,' in Rowe's words, is when 'fear' becomes 'fearism' as a social dis-ease. She documents the long-term [destructive] effects of this denial of 'fear' and how it begins in our family home and the educational institutions of our young" (p. 263). Fisher, R. M. (1997). Spectrum of 'Fear.' Unpublished ms. The concept fearism was not further explicitly developed by Fisher at this time. 9. Without any knowledge of Subba's work (and visa versa), it wasn't until four years later the concept was developed in Fisher, R. M. (2001). 'Fear' Studies: A conceptual proposal. Technical Paper No. 11. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 10. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Xlibris. 11. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (forthcoming). A philosophy of fearism: A first E-W dialogue. Xlibris, 18. 12. Fisher, R. M. (2014). Towards a theory of fearism. Technical Paper No. 51. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute, 22-25. 13. Kalir, B. (2014). The Jewish State of anxiety: Between moral obligation and fearism in the treatment of African asylum seekers in Israel. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.960819 14. That is, from Fisher, R. M. (2006). Invoking 'Fear' Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71. 15. Retrieved from http://thechaosofdeath.blogspot.com/2009/04/fearism-story-fear-of-others.html 16. He is remarking on the Tea Parties (mostly White people), for e.g., and their use of creating fear of Black ascendancy in America, e.g. due to the rise of Pres. Obama in 2008, 2012 election victories and other changes in American society. Olmsted, M. (2010). How the old racism became the new fearism. Huffington Post, May 26. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-olmsted/how-the-old-racism-became_b_588794.html 17. Orosco, S. (n.d.). 3 steps to recognize and overcome limitation and regain your inner power. Retrieved from http://8waystosay.com/3-steps-to-recognize-and-overcome-limitation-and-regain-your-inner-power/ 18. Subba's (2014) book Philosophy of Fearism has won a few international book awards, e.g., National Indie Excellence Awards, 2015. 19. In Subba (2014) he uses "philosophy" and "theory" interchangeably, loosely, and problematically at times when discussing fearism. 20. "The fearist perspective is a new dimension [lens] to look at life and the world [whereby fear plays the major shaping role].... How does the fearist perspective look at life and the world? The purpose behind fearism [and fearist perspective and desire] is to conduct continuous research, investigation, and invention in order to [reduce unnecessary fear] in order to make life more comfortable [and achieve full potential]" (Subba, 2014:11).. 21. Ibid., Subba (2014:332). 22. Ibid., 332. 23. Ibid., 313. 24. See for e.g., Fisher (2010). 25. Ibid., Subba (2014:316). Fisher would call this "path of fearlessness." 26. Ibid., 45-46. 27. “There is no need for an outer source of power for the alleviation of fear. As man [sic] has great power and sense and knowledge.... the mind should be rationalised for its abatement. Thus the problem of fear can be solved... [by] changes in sense and knowledge” (Subba, 2014:331). 28. Ibid., Subba (2014), see his Chpt. 28 “Fearism Dephilosophy” where he wrote: “Eastern philosophy is close to spiritualism, whereas Western philosophy is close to materialism. These philosophies have presented various ways of lives and the world. These philosophies have realised fear yet not felt—what it is. How is it?.... Wherever life exists, no matter how far away it is, still the main road is fear. It is the greatest road. All other paths of life come to join the greatest road. Philosophies might have their respective powerful logic on lives. But the fearism gives new dimension to the logic and interpretations.... Fear is a guide to life and also the greatest orbit of a series of consciousnessnesses.... No other philosophy in the name of fearism existed before” (245). 29. Beyond religiously controlled conservativism politically, he prefers communism [albeit, his own particular meaning of that is unique) as establishment of what he calls "borderless society for a comfortable life" and civilization at a "fearless stage." (Subba, 2014:300-02). 30. Excerpt re: Bikram Bir Thapa, Indian Literary Academy Winner, Shillong, Meghalaya, India, is from "Reviews" on inside front matter of Subba (2014). Three and half pages of endorsements for Subba's book and work clearly show they come from literary scholars and writers. 31. See details in Fisher and Subba (forthcoming:128-29). 32. E.g., see Fisher in Fisher and Subba (forthcoming: 140-47); Fisher takes a "conflict theory" view rather than a more "functionalist" theory view ( the latter, which Subba tends to take). 33. In these publications, two influenced by Fisher's use directly, are very brief uses of the term "fearism" by Kalir (2014), Zembylas (2010), Shirlow and Pain (2003), and White (1997). Kalir (see Ref. #13. above). Shirlow, P., and Pain, R . (2003). The geographies and politics of fear. Capital and Class, 80, 15-26. Zembylas, M. (2010). Agamben's theory of biopower and immigrants/ refugees/asylum-seekers: Discourses of citizenship and the implications for curriculum theorizing. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 26(2), 31-45; White, J. K. (1997). Still seeing Red: How the Cold War shapes the new American politics. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 34. For e.g., on the inside endorsements for Subba (2014), Prof. Dr. Streamlet Dkhar, Khashi Language Department, North East Hills University, Shillong, Meghalaya, India, wrote: "'Fearism is a new concept; it is utilized to keep the cultural dominance and the matrix of superiority intact in a situation of multicultural society for the purpose of wielding abusive power and justifying such acts using other's fear. Identification of the practice of fearism would take us to deeper layers of [the] psychological impact that the victims suffer from." It appears Dr. Dkhar is using both the fearism-t form (Fisher) and more positive Subbaian fearism form together. 35. Fisher and Subba (forthcoming:140).

Read more…

My View on Social Movements

After many prompts from dialogues with my daughter, with Barbara and others, and listening to some interviews on the radio, it seems I ought to put down some thoughts on my views about social movements (including environmental movements). After all, the Fearlessness Movement is my own term for many movements that I have recorded historically across cultures, that work to move the world from Fear to Fearlessness. 

Although I consider myself an activist-educator at heart, I am many other things too. I cannot dismiss there are other social/environmental movements also going on now, and have been throughout history. I cannot suggest they are of lesser importance in the liberation of consciousness and that they have no important role to play in achieving a better quality of life for all beings. That said, I am discerning, and have learned to be so after near 64 years on this planet. I am a social movement watcher and have also participated in several movements, from the environmental movement to the various human potential and new age movements to the critical education movements that have attempted to transform Education on this planet. Once I even joined a political party, but not for long. 

Yes, politics is part of everything I am interested in. Social movements, OLD (like Marxism) and NEW (like Black Lives Matter), it doesn't matter the topic of their content and lobbying, there is always a point of where I discern how much I want to be involved in these movements. I am rarely asked to be part of them or to consult to them. I'd love to do a lot more of that. The point of this short blog is to summarize how I have come to understand it is best for me to align and/or critique such movements. Btw, if you haven't noticed, or don't know my work that well, it is typical that I tend to 'go after' and critique the hypocrisy of 'my side' of the political spectrum rather than go after the obvious enemies that have their hypocrisy too. It is the obvious enemies that so many others are criticizing that I have not felt I need to join them (e.g., the Leftist criticizing the Rightists)-- on and on. No, I prefer to 'go after' my-side, my own kindred types and critique everything they do that I find hypocritical, contradictory to their mission, and sometimes just down right unnecessarily fear-based and violent. 

So, now you have some sense of where I spend most of my energy in my critiques of social/environmental movements... I critique those that are closest in philosophy to mine, and those that espouse the very best liberational ideas that I would ally with--however, my allyship is not without discernment and critique. I often introduce myself to those movements with a desire to help them--and, then I critique them. I challenge what I see is inconsistent with their mission as stated, officially or not. As Barbara says, "This doesn't go over so well." Because they want supporters and allies alright, they want their numbers to get larger, their funding to grow, so they can be more effective achieving their goals or even defeating their enemies. I see that practical need. However, that's not how I want to be part of helping any movement, including the FM. 

So, you can see I quickly get labeled a pariah in many of these movements I come in contact with. They are more interested in advocacy (lobbying) than inquiry--and that's where I have to draw the line when those two forms become too overly weighted--on one side or the other. I look for a 'balance' in operations and philosophies in any healthy and sustainable movement. I think politics can only be really "useful" to the many when it has that balance of advocacy and inquiry--and all that comes down to what i think I can best offer these movements (e.g., the current men's movement battling feminists, and visa versa, of which Vanessa and some other colleagues of mine are involved with now)--it comes down to HOW they do their movement--meaning, how they do critical praxis. That is, how do they use theory, and practice, to combine in a critical consciousness that is an ongoing self-reflexivity to make sure they are not reproducing the very same symptoms (e.g., violences of oppression) that they declare they formed to be against. 

This last sentence is worth re-reading. 

I am a critical pedagogue, cultural critic, and curriculum designer and consultant by profession, and by choice of vocation. I support social/environmental movements pretty much just because they exist and want to improve the world--now, whether I like their agendas or not, they have a right to put them out on the table of any healthy democracy. That's my initial thought anyways... then, they also need to be responsible for the reactions they bring upon themselves. I will help any movement deal with that 'backlash' phenomenon, if they want my help, of course. And mostly, I will look to see how fear-based perceptions, thinking and actions may be undermining the movement. Fact is, fear-based conflict has ruined just about every good movement there is on this planet--to be dramatic in my generalization. 

Indeed, conflict within rips them apart. I was just listening to an interview on NPR radio, on a documentary film-maker talking about his 7 year study and filming around the historical Black Panther Movement in the USA and around the world in the 60s-70s especially. I think that was such a cool movement, as their goal was to monitor and prevent police force and military interventions into civil society (especially involving people of color)... today, this is still going on as a major concern of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this interview, Stanley Nelson told how he discovered that the reason the Black Panthers fell apart after some years and have not reformed well is because of the interior conflict in leaders. And, I don't doubt it at all. The In Search of Fearlessness Project in Calgary, AB that I co-founded in 1989 broke up after a decade also because of rifts within. Now, Nelson also says that the riffs were fanned by the FBI and other forms of oppressive agencies and forces that added to the conflict that couldn't be resolved within the organizations. In my masters degree, after ISOF Project (Calgary) fell apart, I went to study New Social Movements (NSMs), because I realized ISOF was one in fact. I was its main leader. So, there was a lot of interest on my part to find out what happens in the birth and death of NSMs as they are called by sociologists today. 

In my graduate research in 1998-2000 I started by examining the feminist movement and what happened, why it was largely gutted by the 1990s. Time and time again, feminist commentators on the movement, as academics, and as participants, recall the inner-organizational conflict--splits in agendas, and power that corrupted. They also mention that those inner conflicts were flamed by agitators outside the movements (and anti-movements contributed as well). Oppression dynamics work that way-- you are in an organization and think that you are liberating yourselves until you look hard enough, one day, and see that the efforts at liberation are being distorted into fear-based patterns, curriculum, agendas and practices that oppress the very organization itself--and all the members in it, more or less. I was furious to watch this happen in ISOF (Calgary) and not be able to stop it, turn it around-- even though I worked for years to get the community to see what it was doing in some of its behaviors (e.g., internalized oppression). 

Turns out, all Old and NSMs have this problem, as just about any organization of people--right down to families as institutions or even relationships with an intimate other. Yes, that's why I have made a systematic study of conflict and fear. I trust you will remember that is my expertise. I also know, it doesn't mean much for me to say it, if you don't get it, or simply haven't studied my work enough to make a discernment.

So, in FM ning, it behooves us as a liberation movement to likewise question HOW we are operating as an online community--and to develop a critical praxis that demands ethically that we are not operating as individuals or as sub-groups, or as a whole, with a fear-based structuration--otherwise, the entire Fearlessness Movement ning means nothing--nothing liberational, that is! 

There's some grist for the mill... 

Read more…

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.

Read more…

Anyone who takes the Fearlessness Movement seriously, has also to take seriously the past, current and future state of our "fear education" (analogous to say, "sex education"). I mean, the Fearlessness Movement is a mega-form of "fear management" no matter how you look at. Thus, one of the primary conceptions I have used for decades is "fear management/education" (FME). I keep asking, since 1989, where does one get a really high quality FME these days... or whenever, in the history and evolution of our species. I know a big question... 

So, just for curiosity sake, I asked today, "If I (or anyone) is going to inquire about the nature and role of fear (which seems a good starting point)... and I (or anyone) wanted to do a quick scan of the literature and discussions around this phrase and its intention to improve our FME... then, what would I (or anyone) find?" 

Here is my summary of the current scan of Google Scholar, Google Books, and the Internet Web [I realize there are other searches in academic Indexes, and libraries, but they are much harder to access]... these 3 primary sources of knowledge today, worldwide, if one has a computer at hand show the following results to the search for "nature and role of fear" (specially, as those words): 

Google Scholar - the first 6 references that show up with information are mine, then a few others, and then mostly mine-- Total is 13 references (77% are mine)

Google Books - the first reference is mine, the second a dissertation in Classics Studies in 2008 at Univ. of Michigan-- not more, that's it! 

Internet Web - the first reference is mine, the second is the same 2008 dissertation, and next 5 are mine, next a German journal article on tragedy writing, next 4 are mine, next a journal article in Spanish history, next mine, next a populist blog on Batman -- Total 14 references (71% are mine)

----------

Wow, it astounds me how this very fundamental inquiry phrase "the nature and role of fear" is so rare on these massive searches above... the one conclusion, from this scan, is that yours truly is a world expert on the topic, and secondly, that my work dominates the topic--at least in terms of a search of the literature on the internet three sources above ... 

Of course, if you were to search just "fear" the story would be completely different because of hundreds of thousands of references using that search term-- but then, you can see, I am interested in where to go for a good quality FME... and, asking about the "nature and role of fear" (individually, or collectively) seems so fundamental to any depth of questioning and insights to gather... but there you go, clearly I seem quite alone in seeing things this way... apparently. It is quite a shock to my sensibility on one level to see this dirth of information around that query phrase, and at the same time, I am not surprised, as I have been saying for decades that it is near impossible to find a good quality FME on this planet! More evidence was gathered today, as far as I am concerned... for my concern. 

Read more…

Here are a couple excepts from the Foreword(s) in Desh Subba and my new book Philosophy of Fearism: A First E-W Dialogue (forthcoming, Xlibris): 

             You are about to eavesdrop on a most important dialogue. Poetic, provocative and exciting, this engagement with “fearism” might also be, well, frightening. One thing that emerges from this radical conversation between the two most eminent fearologists in the world is that each of us must make vital choices that determine if and how we might escape the growing dangers that relate to our inability to manage fear effectively. And making such choices can be a scary proposition for many.

            What makes this text so valuable is not just the authors’ freewheeling, challenging thoughts that stem from years of contemplating their subject, but the fact that it is being discussed at all. Although people in most cultures know about the importance of courage, few have had the opportunity to learn how to employ it consistently and effectively. Dr. Fisher and Desh Subba offer reflections from two very different cultural orientations that can lead to our becoming “connoisseurs of fear,” (a phrase I once borrowed from the courageous author, Sam Keen (1999), for a chapter title in my 1998 book, Primal Awareness.) This book thus offers a unique break from the status-quo avoidance that surrounds the topic of fear, if one can muster the courage to tackle the subject. 

Four Arrows (Dr. Don Trent Jacobs)- Professor, School of Educational Leadership & Change, Fielding Graduate School, Sequim, WA

     

           In late 2014, Mr. Subba called me and informed me about Dr. R. Michael Fisher's (2014) Technical Paper 51. I became curious and read it. Really, it was amazing. My dreams  had come true, it was there. That paper was the first internationally supported document of Fearism, and fortunately very similar thought was now available coming from the West. I made many copies and distributed them among writers. Subba also sent copies to  N.E. India. Now, with the publishing of Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue, there is a very important blueprint for global fearism, built on friendship, philosophical exchange, and open-minded thinking about the Philosophy of Fearism as it moves through a new door to the wide world. This latest work is an excellent foundation for authors, scholars, students and philosophical lovers. I wish the book and its authors all the best. 

Dr. Tanka Prasad Neupane, Professor, and Chairman, Fearism Study Center, Dharan, Nepal

Read more…

New Wikipedia Entry: Fearism

Hi folks, just wanted to announce I have completed the ms. "Philosophy of Fearism: A First E-W Dialogue" with co-author Desh Subba and we're going to be publishing it with Xlibris, Australia soon. Because of my research on this book I have completed also a summary of FEARISM and its uses on Wikipedia. I think you may enjoy reading this to get a feel for this topic as well as the Fearlessness Movement initiative in relation to it. 

Read more…

I've begun working recently on a paper with the working title, Returning Home: After Our "Escape from Freedom". It's subtitle, "Global Society's Evolutionary Future from an Integral Perspective" helps frame the envisioned content:

"This paper reflects a comprehensive overview from an integral perspective of a contemporary unfolding of Western culture’s evolutionary path. Consequently, and focusing reflectively on the last century in particular, it proffers the viewpoint that an ever-pervading “complexity” consciously perceived as changing “life conditions”, serves to frame and subsequently inform the developmental trajectory of global civil society. Similarly, but assessing humankind’s “spiritual” disposition underpinning the unprecedented toll of devastation wrecked on itself over the 20th Century alone, this perspective articulates a groundwork for effecting a shift in conscious awareness with the capability to transform planetary ecosystems."

The paper's conceptual theme will be interwoven from, and revolve around, various interrelated ideas including Erich Fromm's, "Escape from Freedom"; Campbell's"Hero's Journey"; Otto Scharmer's, "Theory U" (see image above) and these interconnected via an integral perspective arising through Dustin DiPerna's current work with "Integral Spiritual Development". 

Read more…

Remember the folk wisdom: Never judge a book by its cover. There's a metaphor there as well as a concrete and literal truth. And, of late with my discovery (below) one could add to this folk wisdom, and Never judge a philosopher by their books-- that is, unless you've really looked into them all in fine-detail. 

In the past couple days, due to meeting some interesting people and a project they have cooking in Murphysboro, IL (1), I've been researching in an area I have not looked at as intensely in the past as I ought to have. And, a good couple lessons it taught me: one of them being, that just when I thought I spent decades getting to know the literature in the field of Education, and thought I knew most of what educators (from scholars to practitioners) had and/or were saying seriously about fear and fearlessness (that's my speciality)... ahhhhh... 

I have to say I am a bit "shocked" that I have finally found a Western philosopher-educator, thought by many to be The Greatest Philosopher in America in the 19th-20th Century era--none other than John Dewey (1859-1952), writing a "holy rant" (prophetic) piece on fear and fearlessness.

My second lesson in finding this prophetic gem (quoted below), is that I have bolstered my respect for Dewey's life and work by a whole lot of positive notches. Fact is, I never liked Dewey (meaning his writing)--nor, did I like the male philosophers at UBC (my alma mater) who were so off-putting because they were Dewey experts and I hadn't read much Dewey. I tried getting into his work a few times in my undergrad and graduate years and later but... it bored me.

I should have read Dewey, after all I was in Education becoming a teacher and later a curriculum and pedagogy scholar and so you have to read John Dewey (it's part of the educational culture and W. canon)--but I preferred reading a lot of others and mostly I enjoyed reading the educational philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurti (2) and others (primarily, Eastern type philosophers or my fav was E-W integral philosophers like Ken Wilber). I was not (still am not) a big fan of the philosophy of pragmatism he advanced in America during his life, with great success I might add--he had enormous impact in this country at many levels and I felt it the moment I moved here.

The Center for Dewey Studies was just one block away from where Barbara and I moved in to rent a house. And, part of the "awakening" in myself and others here is that SIU just bull-dozed that Center to the ground yesterday and relocated (3), with several disturbed people (myself included) taking pictures of the devastation. One by-stander told me "it is so violent" how the university administrators have only an interest in profit and have disrespect for history, and tradition (i.e., John Dewey). What they mean is there is an increasing disrespect for the Arts & Humanities in the current university system all across this country and many other W. countries. Yes, right here in Carbondale is one of the best collections of Dewey's work in the world. It attracts an ongoing stream of international scholars, and apparently Dewey has never been so popular in other countries around the world, while his reputation in America has fallen considerably since his death (albeit, with small revivals now and then). And guess what? I never ever went in that Center since I lived here, now 7 yrs. I rode by it on my bike many times, and looked in the windows, but could never get myself to go in, even though I thought of doing so. I should have but I had no calling strong enough. There were too many brewing arguments in my scholarly head, filled with complaints of why I didn't like Dewey's work (i.e., it didn't fit my way of thinking) (4). I suppose I was also ticked that Dewey got so much attention here and it felt like there was no philosophical room for my own views. All of that was part of my alienating feelings as a Canadian coming to live in the USA for the first time. A lot of mixed feelings there, as I have been an out and out critic of much of America's philosophy and politics (mainstream that is, Americanism as ideology, etc.). I didn't think Dewey's work was critical or radical enough. But now I realize that was a short-sighted judgment (5). Oooops!

Okay, my great excitement was to discover a passage published in 1922, from an interview with Dewey by Charles W. Wood, and I just thought of a great piece of art to accompany Dewey's Holy Rant on the role of fear and fearlessness in American education (then and now, as his rant so applies to everything today, 93 years later). 

Art work by Art Young (entitled: "This World of Creepers", c. 1907 [15 yrs. before Dewey's published Holy Rant on fear and fearlessness], published in a political magazine I found in the library stacks at UBC in my graduate years (unfortunately I didn't right down the exact reference info. and haven't been able to find it again). Oh, this image is slightly 'touched up' by yours truly as I added the 'ISM' part in the original version. I love that the artist (Young) was tapping into the climate of increasing fear and its consequences in the world (America) at the time of post-WWI, and it is rather earth-shaking, spine-shaking, to me the prophecy in Art Young's piece and John Dewey's piece (below). These are both markers of the history of fear and fearlessness that has been left out of the history books, I'm sorry to say, it is sad. I really need to write my own version of the history of these fascinating and important ideas/realities-- fear and fearlessness, and their dynamic relationship. Mostly, what is missing is the history of fearlessness! (I have found at least five good scholarly works on the history of fear). So, why the absence of a history of fearlessness (especially, in the West)? See my recent technical paper "What is the West's Problem with Fearlessness?" (scroll down the web page link to find a pdf). 

John Dewey on Fear & Fearlessness

[This is not the complete interview, nor the complete text from the summary of the interview by Charles W. Wood in 1922, just after Dewey had returned from a long visit to China; this article was originally published as Wood, C. W. (1922). Professor John Dewey on the hysteria which holds teaching in check. New York World, 27, Aug.; the current excerpt [reprinted version] below is from Boydston, J. A. (Ed.) (2008). Report of Interview with Dewey (by Wood, C. W.), In John Dewey, the middle works, 1899-1924, Vol. 13, 1921-22 (pp. 425-32). Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press]

[with bold added for emphasis] [Dewey:] "The greatest enemy to human progress is fear. People generally tell the truth unless they are afraid to--afraid of punishment, afraid of someone's opinion or afraid that some competitor will gain an advantage. A large percentage of human ills is due to greed, but back of greed lies the sense of insecurity and its accompanying fear. Fear is the soil in which wars are bred. Fear engenders hate. Individually and socially, wherever human life and human relations become inhuman, we are quite sure to discover that they have been poisoned by fear. Cowardice in public office, cowardice in business dealings, cowardice in international relations--we are all more or less familiar with the havoc wrought by these; but the most insidious poison I know of in modern society is cowardice on the part of those who are charged with the responsibility of teaching our youth" 


[that open's Wood's article, and Wood responds to it:] "Before I tell you who said it, I wish you all read that paragraph again. Find a flaw in it if you can."

[Dewey continues:] "And the boys and girls in our New York schools... are not getting half a chance. They are the victims of an inherent timidity, if not an active intimidation, within our school system. There can be no real education unless there is fearlessness, but New York teachers are not free to teach. The situation in this respect is worse, it seems to me, than it ever was before.... [re: his critique of "training" vs. true "education"] But the very basis of such training is fear of what they [the child] may do without it. When we are trying to draw out human intelligence , there must be no such fear.... the system is now additionally cursed by a set of silly laws conceived in fear and born in political hysteria [culture of fear] which seized this country during and immediately after the war.... The public now would like to return to sanity: But unless it provides some antidote for those poisonous [fear-based] laws, the minds of our children generally must suffer incalculably.... The school authorities, in the very nature of their organization, cannot be trusted with this task. They are, to say the least, timid. It is their nature [fear habit] to travel the beaten paths. They are afraid of innovations. They are necessarily afraid to run counter to the public wishes.... [and what we must do, he says] see to it that this haunting fear is eliminated from our school life [and society]."

******

If I am over-zealously reading Dewey, forgive me for my ignorance, and passion, it is just that it seems obvious this mild-mannered philosopher is going for the juglar vein, with no holds barred. That's prophetic pedagogy and philosophy of the kind very rare to see in the Western world, especially in the Education field. But it was the 1920s. I wonder if Dewey ever came back to these poignant points and arguments and fleshed them out? I am going to find out. I wonder if all the hundreds of scholars who have taken up to critique and follow Dewey's legacy, with multiple angles of interpretations, do they write about this interview on fear and fearlessness? Why have I never seen this referenced in my 26 yrs of researching on fear and fearlessness? I'm sort of thinking that perhaps no one has picked up on the holy rant of Dewey in 1922, which I am dubbing as John Dewey's Fearlessness Project. Again, I caution myself that perhaps I am overly reading into Dewey's grand philosophical and educational (and political) project... and, it then seems clear as a bell when I re-read and re-read his interview extracts here. Thank you Charles W. Wood (if you are still alive) for bringing this holy rant out of Dewey and publishing it. Thank you all the Dewey followers for reprinting it (note: in a book/journal issue published in Carbondale, IL by SIU Press in 2008). I haven't read it in the complete yet, and will do so soon. 

John Dewey's Fearlessness Project is not a label I use lightly, it is however one I am totally glad to apply and I am considering (after more research, perhaps) to end up including Dewey's movement in progressive education and philosophy in America (19th-20th century) as a contributing "Fearlessness Movement" initiative and add it to the Wikipedia on that topic. One outstanding question is can a pragmatist (6) like Dewey be prophetic (are they supposed to be, based on the definition of pragmatism and its history in American philosophy and as American philosophy)? I won't go on and on here with so many questions that arise, some very troubling as to the 'absence' of this holy rant in all my scouring the Educational field (albeit, I will say I have found other W. critical thinkers, and educators saying very similar things to Dewey in the above--but that's another article; I'm wondering if they had read Dewey's rant or it was picked up in them by osmosis--matrixial threads--unconscious collective archetypes?)--I trust some of you may like to comment on this. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Oh, one last (very interesting) thought, according to a Dewey scholar (Ryan, 1997, p. 80), it was Alice Chirman, Dewey's wife (1886 on) who gave Dewey three things he need, says Ryan, "The first was fearlessness about the ideas and opinions of the rest of the world" -- the other two things (note) follow from that gift... now there is a great feminist, womanist, feminine acknowledgement. See Ryan, A. (1997). John Dewey and the high tide of American liberalism. NY: W.W. Norton. 

End Notes

1. I am referring to a very interesting duo (and others), Prof. of Philosophy Randy Auxier, SIU and Prof. of Philosophy John Shook, University of Buffalo NY, who have decided to pool their huge libraries, each over 15,000 books, into a library and research center in Randy's home in Murphysboro, IL (a 5 min. drive W. of Carbondale, IL where I live). They are putting together a non-profit organization at the same time and already have other retiring philosophy professors donating their life-long book collections to their center. Auxier and Shook believe their project reflects, as a counter-response, to a growing disturbing trend of American higher education institutes in general, which have disregarded the best quality of philosophy from American scholars in history. They are more than a little perturbed at the "State" of funding losses in higher education from the public purse and the overly business attitude of administration in many universities today in N.A. I agree with their critique and I think it is fascinating they are taking their passions into their own hands and not depending on anyone else to secure the best of knowledge and wisdom. One could write an essay about this changing landscape of American higher education in the past few decades where institutions care more about "profit" than securing the wisdom of a culture, in particular through the academy. I think they are marking a trend of alternative learning centers. The place at Randy's will be available to the public not merely scholars. It will have a residential component for scholars as well. I am even putting together a proposal for such a year long residency (I'll talk about that later perhaps). 

2. My all time favorite education book has got to be Krishnamurti, J. (1953/81). Education and the significance of life. NY: Harper & Row.

3. The Dewey materials from the Center are now in the (cold and dark) basement level of Morris Library, SIU. Larry Hickman, Director of the Center for Dewey Studies has been demoted to a small cubicle in that basement and most of his budget for research assistants and graduate assistants sliced. This doesn't speak well of the attitudes of the upper administration in SIU. 

4. The almost repulsive quality I had built up inside myself for over 3 decades in the field of Education, can be summarized (albeit, a bit grossly) to what I read in his work as a functionalist perspective (even if he was somewhat a radical liberal reformer challenging the status quo) and not a conflict perspective (i.e., based in critical theory). This is a much longer argument of differentiation that I spent years in my graduate work sorting out and researching, to come to the conclusion I was a conflict theorist not a functionalist (pragmatist) theorist. It makes a big political difference. For those really keen to know more about this you can check out these terms online and a really good summary of the distinction is my daughter and her collaborator's chapter in a recent book I also have a chapter in, see Fisher, V., and Nicholson, S. E. (2014). Introduction: Developing a critical integral praxis for sex, gender, and sexuality. In S. E. Nicholson and V. Fisher (Eds.), Integral voices on sex, gender, and sexuality: Critical inquiries (pp. 1-12). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 

5. I still am not convinced his work is strong enough to bring about the transformation that I think America needs to go through before it destroys itself and the rest of the world with it. Thus, I am still rightfully critical he was not "radical enough" (you could say)--that is, he never was a good conflict theorist. Now, even that, as I age, is becoming a little more tenuous of a divide in my mind (despite E.N. #4). But that's a longer story, and I'm interested to study Dewey to look at just what kind of conflict theorist he perhaps was and/or he was an integral theorist and I just missed it and frankly, I haven't read enough nearly to even assess this anymore. 

6. I had read a scholar recently writing on Dewey's work and suggesting Dewey preferred to be called some working with the philosophy of "experimentalism" and yet, many have dubbed him working with the philosophy of pragmatism (along with William James, Charles S. Peirce, etc.). Albeit, Dewey is uniquely a pragmatist with a strong social philosophy (activist) bent; and his background in Christianity (which he left the church eventually) and as a social reformer connected with religious life in America (i.e., New England)--all this leads to him being "prophetic" (and I mean that, because of his confrontation of our society with its culture of fear and the need for fearlessness). 

Read more…

Thanks Michael for this photoshop image of Medwyn McConachy and I a couple years ago (photo originals by Medwyn) when we had exchanged a good deal of art processes and then began to bring forward some theories that inform our work, and at least, could inform our work in the future. 

A raw unedited 20 minute recorded dialogue on the Gibraltar Point Pier with the accompaniment of Lake Ontario waves in Toronto, Ontario, Canada  during an artist residency. In this recording Medwyn McConachy and Barbara Bickel discuss Matrixial (Ettinger) Differential (Sandolva) Integral (Wilber) theories that then moves into talking about the relationship between the colonizer and oppressed and education. 

https://soundcloud.com/barbara-bickel/bickel-mcconachydiscussion-2013/s-AoR8u

Read more…

If you have browsed the photos I have put up, and go right to the beginning you'll see the book cover of Philosophy of Fearism and a photo of Desh Subba the Nepali writer who wrote the book, as he was photographed at Hong Kong University giving a talk on his book. Desh and I are sort of colleagues, online, and have not yet met or even skyped. We read each others' text and we mirror what each other is thinking and writing about so passionately. 

I won't go into "our" story about beginning a philosophy of fearism on this planet. Some of that story is in Desh's 2014 book Philosophy of Fearism and a few interviews are online, but more to say that the "best" collaboration (collection) of our thoughts on a philosophy of fearism are well underway in a new book we co-wrote (and I am doing the final formatting on). The title is: Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue. Hopefully, it will come out in 3-4 months from now or around X-mas time... we'll see. I mention the 'story' part of our collaboration because it is part of what leads me to confess in this blog my "embarrassing" feelings and thoughts now and then. 

First, what is most embarrassing is my coming to terms (after 26 yrs.) that I am reaching my goal as a (to be) recognized international expert on a philosophy of fear and fearlessness. Yes, my original goal was shaping up to be a founder of a philosophy of fearlessness, because that felt right and was an interesting philosophy and combination of words. But after engaging in inter-textual dialogue, and an integral dialectical (if not trialectical) dance with Mr. Subba, things started to change, and I was not alone, not the Westerner any more leading only--and something happened where in our new co-written book I am joining forces to be the 'other' founder of a philosophy of fearism. I am submitting to (defaulting to) by no force, but by privilege of having met Subba's work and commitment--a philosophy of fearism over a philosophy of fearlessness. Even though, in our new book I explain how this happened and also that I am keeping my own unique stream of thought and philosophy (i.e., fearlessness) under the one roof of fearism. 

It is important that "two became one," as we share in this new co-written book, a dialogue is profoundly influential in one's thinking, and life, and this is surely the case with us, or at least, I'll speak for myself here. I'm a bit surprised, and slightly embarrassed by it because of my close identification (as a teacher) of the philosophy of fearlessness and that's what all my friends, colleagues and students have known me as. It is a bit like changing a name. I know how hard it is, slightly embarrassing, for example when I changed from "Robert" to "Michael" in the late 1990s. 

But the other embarrassing thing is to put myself out there as a founder of a brand new philosophy (and "better" philosophy for understanding fear) on the planet and to then reflect on the problematic of that assertion when I am not a qualified philosopher (not professionally, not academically)--and, I'm even rather poorly educated in "philosophy" and the humanities period. It's embarrassing to say I have never completed a post-secondary philosophy course ever. I took a couple in undergrad and "flunked" or "quit" before it was too late to embarrass myself as how I was a lousy philosopher, by academic standards--at least, that was the case in the late 1970s, but sure, I am quite a different being today. 

Desh also is not a trained philosopher. We are more artists... as our new book will describe. So, I'll leave that confession, and end this blog with a fresh piece of rough writing from my journaling today that's related to the above and adds a really cool thought which I think could be a foundational "descriptor" (in part) of what this new philosophy of fearism (beyond existentialism, or any other "ism" philosophy to date) is at core: 

PHILOSOPHY OF FEARISM- fear is actually the predominant motivator of human behavior, individually and collectively--and, it has overwhelming been disregarded as such in any current philosophy available on the planet. It is this disregard that is 'killing us' fast and slowly. But, in the end, each will have to decide what relationship they want to a philosophy of fearism (should they be so exposed). It is the very existence (emergence today) of a philosophy of fearism that is the better relationship to investigate, beyond the habitual and common practice of evaluating our relationship to the nature and role of fear (for e.g.), or beyond investigating our fear(s) and even fear itself. The latter two forms of inquiry are, according to the philosophy of fearism (Subbaian, and Fisherian), inadequate, if not misdirected in their focus and project. Accounting for one's relationship to a philosophy of fearism ought to take precedent to the former approaches. To do so, will in part, bring more clarity, more freedom from fear, and a liberational praxis that will prevent any toxifying ideology of fearism from taking over a philosophy of fearism.  -RMF

[note: this descriptor is ripe for being cast out onto a Wikipedia entry if anyone is interested]

p.s. thanks to Al and Laura Santos for their house (Calgary, AB) and printer and supplies, and quiet time, for the month of April, 2015 when I wrote the bulk of material for this new book

Read more…

I am writing this blog because of an article my life-partner (Barbara Bickel) passed on to me today. It is very interesting because rarely does an educator, never mind an art educator and artist in the (American) profession of Art Education, come out so bluntly in their national newspaper (NAEA News, Apr. 2015) announcing in the opening paragraph: 

"... I will take a moment to reflect on what I value as an artist, educator, and spiritualist as contemplation on fear-based educational paradigms. As I was meditating, clarity about just how much we are victims of a fear-based society [i.e., "culture of fear," by many other names]. (Willis, 2015, p. 15). 

Whoa! Way to go Steve Willis, who is also USSEA Pres., Prof. of Art Education, Missouri State University. I see he is someone new I have not come across in my research over the years in both the field of education (and its radical thinkers), and in my study of fear and culture of fear. He is just a few hrs. drive from Carbondale, IL too so that makes it more interesting to me. I appreciate he isn't afraid to call himself, in professional (and art) circles a "spiritualist" (whatever that exactly might mean to him).

I think many feel what Steve feels (yes, especially school teachers), but few articulate it or even know how to. Too many have accepted it as the 'new normal' for American society. The issue he raises (and then somewhat dismisses) is "fear-based educational paradigms" as I see it-- and indeed Steve's concern is one of many educators, across the fields of study and specializations. I have documented that literature in "Culture of Fear and Education: An Annotated Bibliography, 1990-2011)" which I published some 4 yrs. ago (go to the link and scroll down for a free pdf). I would love educators of all stripes to tune-in to the vast amount of consensus on the Fear Problem in Education. All the years, since 1989, I have more or less been trying to rally educators to address this problem, or even discuss it openly, and I can conclude that it has been a dismal failure, for lots of reasons, many I have written about in other publications. But maybe I am being too negative in focus here and in my research? Isn't that the other (primary) reason Steve wrote his article--he was concerned about his own practices for years of "focusing on the negative" (his words).

Being Positive, Being Negative: Where Should We Focus? 

I too am a "spiritualist" (if one wants to use that word), meaning I give a good deal of my attention on my spiritual development (or what some call integral and/or transpersonal, transcendent or esoteric). I won't try to define those here. My interest was how Steve has put forward an argument (after also consulting with his wife who is a "spiritual leader," as he calls her) something like this in his article: I have worked most all my life to be a good and just person, and school art teacher... but over the years all he was seeing (predominantly anyways) in schools, in kids and their families, in communities, in the administration of Education, among his fellow teachers, etc. were the many "negative aspects." He then says, upon critical and meditative reflection (and from spiritual teachings he's been studying) that he was sort of wasting his time all those years fighting against the negative and trying to make it positive. He wrote, "... I was inadvertly an active participant in a negatively reinforced, no-win scenario"  [i.e., the self-reinforcing energies and conflicts of a fear-based paradigm and fear-based society that breeds on it]. He too, implicitly, was becoming fear-based (= negative focused). All his ways of perceiving, thinking, acting (with good intention) were no longer (apparently) valid, due to his new spiritual insight--an insight that he says comes down to claiming (believing) that it is better to be "heart-centered" or what many call love-based. 

There is a lot more in his short article, which I so appreciate he wrote and is publishing amongst his peers. We need a lot more of this kind of discussion. I touch on a few things and leave much unsaid. On the other hand, I am not as celebratory as he seems to be now with his heart-centered focus. This is a long long philosophical/theological critique I have made for decades of people (and educators, and spiritualists) who fall prey to a rather dubious worldview themselves in the 'name' of love-heart centeredness-- that IF they focus on the negative, more negative will be created (and they will attract and feel more negative). I well know that esoteric philosophy, and I also well know it has validity problems, in the sense of the requirement that many spiritual teachings share that we require not one or the other (not positive vs. negative)--see for example, the best of polarity therapy and its philosophy (also Taoism, etc.). There is a common tendency, I have observed, for people to "swing" from one extreme (e.g., overly negative focused) to another extreme (e.g., overly positive focused)--now, if you apply that to where one ought to focus their attention to be good critical thinkers and just citizens today-- this complicates things to where Steve's argument tends to come off as if he is telling us not to focus on fear (i.e., the negative) and only (or more so) on love. What is better? What teachings are worthy in helping us with this ancient dilemma?

No easy answer to that question. I only know, I am always cautious when someone has a 'turn around' euphoric experience (as Steve clearly describes in his article--albeit, he admits it was hard work turning negative focus into positive focus) and wants to promote it immediately to the rest of the world, with arguments that are dubious when examined closely. I have been so intent on improving the distinctions (with data, with research) between "love-based" and "fear-based" and how they are so typically located by people and teachers into fear vs. love, or some such derivative (i.e., a belief system). I have published an extensive paper on this a few years back entitled: Love and Fear (Yellow Paper DIFS-6). As well, another paper available in which I go after the criticality required to even label something "fear-based" (as Steve does)--not so easy of a task when you really get down to it. These are reasons for me for being cautious to grand claims, that Steve and many others who think like he does around fear (negative) vs. love (positive)... and conflate that with fear (head) and love (heart), etc. See my critical paper entitled: "The Problem of Defining the Concept 'Fear-based'" (perhaps, I'm too negative for focusing so much research on "fear"?... ha ha). 

What I most appreciate in Steve's honesty, even more than I am enthused of his 'turn around' perspective (no doubt it is helpful to him and others to some degree), is calling truth the truth, reality the reality (as best we can conceive) in a critical discourse of naming the Fear Problem in education (and the rest of the society, especially in the West and in America). If we stop focusing equal attention on fear (as say with love), then we are going to be in an even more dangerous situation than we are now with the fear-based paradigm and its deep infiltration not into only our consciousness (or hearts) but in the very structures of societies, like architectures, curriculum designs, and I could go on and on. Having a change of heart, and finding more balance from looking too much at the negative and fighting against it is one thing (a good thing), but more or less rejecting the hard work of looking into 'Hell' at the same time as 'Heaven'--that's, the path of fearlessness in a nutshell (as are most of the non-dual teachings from many traditions). 

I think Steve, and others like him, have (dare I say) struck a chord on the 'right track' to liberation but they tend to "swing" in extremes... oh, my god, that is a chronic problem in schools, education, and near random styles/values shifting from this to that (e.g., fav ice cream flavor of the week)-- Steve must know that. So, I encourage him to really stop reinforcing the fear-based paradigm completely (and actually, start by not calling it "negative" and setting up a binary with "positive")... and yes, I support Steve's great initiative with himself and his colleagues to: 

"Imagine the freshness and excitement of an artist [educator] creating without fear and anxiety...". 

I am very interested in better recognizing fear ('fear') when we don't... and my research says, we most often don't recognize it. I look forward and celebrate artists of the future, becoming educators, and following compassion and wisdom, along with good critical analysis of body-head-heart-soul-spirit ... call it holistic-integral education, or whatever. 

There is so much great teaching, from around the world, on moving from fear to fearlessness... I wrote a book on it (smile).

Okay, I look forward to more dialogue on this, and if I can help, let me know. Yes, may we find that precarity of 'balance' that may or may not actually exist in the Real World!

References Cited

Willis, S. (2015). United States Society for Education Through Art (USSEA). National Art Education Association News, Apr. 25, 15.

Read more…

If I was to do a fearanalysis on how societies categorize "terror" via its association with terrorism and terrorists, i would say it usually makes sense only on the surface. Once you penetrate through the political discourses (and their psychological defense mechanisms), you come to see a lot of not making much sense in how so-called "terrorists" are labeled and how so-called "terrorism" is used and manipulated by all sorts of people (especially the elite power players, like military, and political leaders and their corporatist friends). Yet, we all are susceptible to playing with these terms, using them, thinking with them--often without a lot of nuance or critically.

I won't go into my long critique of the use of this term. I have been writing a good deal about that since 1989, more or less, and especially during my dissertation years--and 9/11 really showed me the way the discourse on terrorism gets used and mis-used so quickly in the same breath. Now, just in my last few days in Canada, I am aware of heading back to the USA and the political battles brewing before the 2016 Presidential run-off. I see so much of the Harper conservative leadership regime really getting into this "terrorism" thing as the US elites and culture do, using ISIS and any other movement or actions appropriately connected or not, to get people scared enough so that military western invasions are acceptable nearly anywhere anytime. It's all part of the ongoing construction of the culture of fear phenomenon that I have blogged about on this site before (see for e.g., May 15, June 18, 2015).

My partner (Barbara) just brought the latest issue of Common Ground magazine to share with me, and I open to an article (Letter) entitled: "Understanding Harper's Actions Takes Some Mental Acrobatics" (yes, the west coasters in Canada really are out to get Harper thrown out of office as soon as possible... smile). The author of the article (and it could be so many other authors I have read for decades) really ends up following the oppressive (mis-guided) conformist pattern of critiquing most "terrorists" (who ever may identify and label them) as "disillusioned psycho cases on the margin of society" (p. 13), that is, when they are gunman, mass murderers, and not so clearly identified with a so-called political "terrorist organization"--and yet, that all becomes a murky distinction. The author was referring to those individuals who have attacked Canada's parliament buildings in recent years. Okay, now what does that mean(?)-- "psycho case" . And is that not a cutting hurtful label to give someone who chooses (more or less) to not participate and support the mainstream of society? And, are not the politically motivated so-called terrorists (e.g. ISIS) also folks who have chosen (more or less) to not participate and support the mainstream of society that they live in and chose not to support Western militarization and global capitalization of their countries? They are all resistors. Now, people can call them terrorists, and can call them "psycho cases" and compare the two-- but what attitude is making the judgment. It is one based on fear and it is a nasty way to make all these people 'Other' (reproducing "fear of Other" as postmodern and postcolonial critics have argued is a one-way ticket to hatred and violence in some form).

It astounds me, how unable (unwilling) and fear-full the smartest people are (our leaders?), when it comes to a sophisticated understanding and representation of people who don't fit in the margins. When are we going to listen to them (enough, a lot, a little) so that we don't just write them off as "terrorists" or "psycho cases" and actually work with the larger systems reality that they are us, in some way, in some larger more systematic ecology of consciousness and life--and, equally take responsibility that 'We' have created them for the exact reason to confront 'Us' to see what we are creating as a system. Any good family or organizational therapist knows this problem of scape-goating, and so do social critics who see it as another way to distance ourselves from the pathologies of the mainstream production system itself. Yes, I'd really like to do a fearanalysis of how we don't make sense making sense... you gotta laugh, you gotta cry.... we are so far away from the Intelligence we need yet as a society to really change, transform and heal a legacy of "fear of the Othering" that is chronic.

Read more…

Whether you're a professional, semi-pro, or natural caregiver and helper (consultant, coach, friend, lover, etc.), there are some interesting things to be aware of if you want to develop a mature ("fearless") practice. This is a complex topic when it comes to the relationship of fear and fearlessness to ethics, and a book or two needs to be written some day on that. However, in the mean time, of practical matters, I did find a starting thread of wisdom from a pretty interesting practitioner/writer by the name of Cedar Barstow, in a very readable book Right Use of Power: The Heart of Ethics (A Resource for the Helping Professional) (2008, Many Realms Publishing, Boulder, CO). I was particularly pleased in finding this book on a shelf at a house I am currently staying in Courtenay, BC, where the author Barstow uses Ken Wilber's (integral theory) substantially for her model of ethical development. Very cool.

I picked one page from the book to share here (in extract adaptations) around the issue of "counter-transference" issues in helping relationships. The theory and research done on how clients react to helpers and how helpers then react to client's reactions is one of an important piece of understanding to gain and mastery to utilize effectively. I'll not elaborate on all that here unless you ask (also feel free to elaborate for all of us on the FMning if you wish in your own Comments). To say the least, there is an enormous interchange of visible and invisible affect between people in helping relationships and most of us in these has a lot to learn about that.

The issue of counter-transference (as driver and dynamic of perceptions, thoughts, and actions), I will add, is a topic I have researched for a long time going back to my dissertation years when I gave a paper at a conference on the topic and how researchers (of all kinds) also need to be aware of their counter-transference with certain topics under the research lens (of course, I was taking the example of researching "fear itself" as a subject). Again, I won't go into that here. 

So, Barstow (2008, p. 131; citing J. M. Watkin's work) interestingly outlines 6 major issues/problems/challenges in counter-transference processes, which she calls "patterns" (and I easily could call them all technically 'fear' patterns; Counselor's Fears, is another way of saying it simplistically) [bold added for emphasis other than the beginning of the sentences]: 

"(1) Being overprotective of client. A client can trigger the counselor's fears. The counselor steers the client away from areas that trigger the counselor's painful material [unhealed painful memories = 'fear' patterns]... [I used to call this the core of all co-dependency patterns that are unhealthy in relationships, that is, the agreed obvious or the yet discovered agreement made between two people (or more) that goes something like this: "I promise not to bring up your fears if you don't bring up mine." ]

(2) Treating clients in benign ways. The counselor has fears of the client's anger. To guard against this anger, the counselor creates superficiality ... [reduces to] friendly conversation"... [this is more or less, "fear of destructivity" - pain, loss, deconstruction, etc.]

(3) Rejection of clients. The counselor, seeing the client as needy and dependent, moves away, remains cools and aloof, and does notlet the client get too close" [this is more or less "fear of intimacy" as problem for the counselor; that is, not trusting themselves in the depths of the world of intimacy with anyone]

(4) Need for reinforcement and approval. The counselor needs to be reassured of their effectiveness. If the client is not getting better, the counselor has fears and self doubts." [this is more or less "fear of failure"]

(5) Seeing self in the client. The counselor [over-]identifies with the client to the point of losing objectivity. They may see in the client traits that the counselor dislikes in themself. A 'difficult' client [is labeled]..." [and often rejected or abandoned by the counselor, more or less subtlely] [this is more or less "fear of one's shadow" and/or another's shadow]

(6) Development of sexual or romantic feelings. The counselor can exploit the vulnerable position of the client, consciously or unconsciously." [this is more or less "fear of losing control" and becoming subordinated to the power of the client]

--------------

For as useful as this awareness is, there is still a much larger context we need to bring into an integrally aware caregiving/helping practice-- it is not just about "me" and "them" (or "you" or "we") it is also about the "world" (all the contexts, systems, of which I and we operate) (especially, if one is a "cultural therapist" as I claim for myself)-- that's what Wilber calls the "It" of the triad with "I" and "We" perspectives. Okay, may this awareness bring forward more dialogue on the role of fear (and of course, dialectically, fearlessness) in helping practices. This is core foundational work in my experience, and those that avoid it (the above) are more or less caught in "fear of ethics" -- and that's a higher level problem isn't it?

I did note in scanning this entire book by Barstow that she uses "fear" sparingly throughout and does not use "fearlessness" at all. I always thought that any integral theory and developmental map/design of ethical development has to be based on fearlessness (i.e., more or less non-fear-based)--and likewise any helping/caring that is healthy in the long run. Of course, the practical world is one filled with people "helping" and "caring" and "loving" by means that are less than fearlessness. That is a serious problem to overcome, without condemning anyone for 'where they are at', in my view. 

Read more…

Some two and 1/2 yrs ago I did some writing and took some political actions re: the Fearlessness Movement, my critique of fear management/education and my critique of the culture of fear in America... and especially critique of the way the mass murders in USA are regularly made meaning as a "gun problem" (pro or con)... the nice simple binary. I have selected some of that writing (and a link to an article) I wrote here: http://csiie.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=37 (on Dec. 26, 2012, post-Sandy Hook tragedy)... 

Now we have the 21 yr. old rebel at Charleston, S.C. killing 9 black people who were praying in their Methodist church.... it is not a gun problem, is what I wrote to the Pres. and VP of the USA in 2012... it is a Fear Problem we have... and the guns only "feed" to the fear... and create more... what curriculum is adequate to the task of the 21st century and these ongoing mass murders (or acts of 'terrorism')... etc.? And with the help of a colleague I was inspired to write a letter and send a copy of my book to the Pres. and VP at the time (neither replied)... the ongoing, silence, and denial-- 'fear' itself (i.e., fearism-t) is well in place with even our best leaders who are too afraid to really encounter the issue of source--- fear itself, by any other name.... It will repeat... these tragedies... until we find a better way to make meaning of them and thus be able to intelligently, from a place of true fearlessness design a different society.... 

Read more…

Some weeks ago I posted a blog on Canadian politics and the growing culture of fear (i.e., the way of American Fear)... and it looks like activist groups (including Anonymous, the powerful hacker activists) have been 'assaulting' back ... challenging the potential passing of C51 and its opening the way to more "secret police" in Canada and a whole lot of other so-called anti-terrorism moves... here's a petition of near 200,000 that is circulating entitled "Reject Fear" 

http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/reject-fear-stop-stephen-harper-s-secret-police-bill

At the same time I can support such a fearlessness movement like "Reject Fear" and its predecessors in recent American politics from 2000 onward... I have also a great desire that some day we'll actually demand from our leaders a better curriculum on fear and its management-- a must course for all politicians... ha ha ha!!!

Read more…