034. Fear

A discussion of our deepest darkest depths.


Questions to ponder

  1. What do you fear and why?
  2. Is knowing what others fear a matter of privacy? What about other emotions? Will emotional/mental states ever be sufficiently measured by human beings?
  3. Describing fear as a bodily response to a threat, Quirk (2015) describes the flight or flight response as a combination of increased breathing rate, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, decreased pain sensitivity, etc., i.e., fear as a physiological function. Sometimes altered physiological functions allow performance in extreme conditions. For example, a soldier on the battlefield may perform their duty better when scared (or when not). Would the U.S. Military be justified in using fear as a motivator (or suppressing it entirely) for its soldiers? Would it be justified in using fear as a tool of war?
  4. Quirk notes that the brain mechanism of fear learning is conserved across species with the amygdala, a subcortical region located in the medial temporal lobe, crucial as a node in fear circuitry. Why do you think, given nature’s variety, that its response to fear is so largely self similar?
  5. Do you have phobophilia? The love of fear? Do you enjoy scary stories, haunted houses, darkened woods? Why would someone like fear in certain contexts?
  6. Duke et al (1993) end by stating “[b]ecause fear resides within the individual, a manager must project beyond personal opinion about what fear issues are important and develop perspectives similar to those of other stakeholders to properly evaluate the effects of a fear appeal.” How can we develop (empathetic) perspectives for those whose fears we might never understand?
  7. On the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, comedian Chelsea Handler remarked, “I think that fear works on both sides: […] I’m doing more than I’ve ever wanted to do in my entire life because I’m fucking scared shitless.”
  8. Danis et al (2007) conclude that “[f]ear of retaliation from seeking ethics consultation is common among nurses and social workers, nonetheless this fear is not associated with reduced requests for ethics consultations.” Why does the fear for “doing the right thing” exist?
  9. “Fear,” Fairchild et al. (2018) tell us, “is now commonly used in public health campaigns” going on to examine how fear campaigns against the tobacco industry and HIV/AIDS epidemic began, evolved, and affected those involved. If fear can be used to improve the health of the populace, should the populace live in fear?
  10. Should we be afraid?
  11. “Professor Nobody” says that “Once awareness of the human predicament was achieved, we immediately took off in two directions, splitting ourselves down the middle. One half became dedicated to apologetics, even celebration, of our new toy of consciousness. The other half condemned and occasionally launched direct assaults on this gift.” Do you think that human predicament described – the “[m]adness, chaos, bone-deep mayhem, devastation of innumerable souls–while we scream and perish, History licks a finger and turns the page” of it all – has caused some fundamental shift in human consciousness?
  12. “Fiction, unable to compete with the world for vividness of pain and lasting effects of fear, compensates in its own way. How? By inventing more bizarre means to outrageous ends.” Are their limits to which we should allow our art to induce fear?

Essays to consider

  1. Fear
  2. A Method for Evaluating the Ethics of Fear Appeals
  3. Does fear of retaliation deter requests for ethics consultation?
  4. The Two Faces of Fear: A History of Hard-Hitting Public Health Campaigns Against Tobacco and AIDS
  5. Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror