The Culture of Fear

June 11, 2007 at 5:40 pm | Posted in avoidance, colosseum, culture, fear, John Doyle, ktismatics, market, munera, noxii, PTSD, reality TV, Rome, strand, suppression, trait, venationes | 6 Comments

Talking of PTSD led me to think about the ubiquitous nature of fear. Fear is all around us. Fear is within us. Yet we rarely acknowledge our fear.

What are our fears? Why are we afraid of fear?

Looking at my own little self and asking these questions I get a number of answers.

I am afraid of the future.
I am afraid of losing my job.
I am afraid of losing my health.
I am afraid that my relationships are too fragile.
I am afraid that those I love are getting into trouble.
I am afraid of doing something wrong and getting myself into trouble.
I am afraid of the changes in nature and environment that are taking place around me.
I am afraid that my country may lose its political and economic stability.
I am afraid of market forces controlling and spoiling the economy.
I am afraid of the rapid changes in Indian culture.
I am afraid of certain things in my past.
I am afraid of dependence.

These are generic fears, fears that perhaps most Indians would identify with.

But there are other fears. Fears of what is inside of me. Fears of my own inadequacy. Fears of my ignorance. Fears of my personality traits. Fears of my inability to hold together relationships. Fears of my inability to share. Fears of my neediness. Fears of my inability to love, fears of untruth, and the list could go on…

The way I deal with fear is basically to try to ignore it. I do my job. I spend time with my family. I spend time with friends. I watch TV. I blog. I read the newspaper. I read a novel. I go for walks in the woods. When I think, I try to focus on objective ‘stuff’. I sleep.

During each of these avoidings, I carry my fears with me. The fears cause all sorts of turmoil, all the worse for being ignored!

Fear, the fear of fear, eventually drives me to face the fear. I recognise that fear. I recognise that the fear may be justified. I recognise that I may be causing the fear. I recognise that I have to change.

The conscious fear is also an indicator (the tip of the iceberg) of a trouble spot, a trend, a trait, or as John Doyle would perhaps term it, a strand. It is something that has to be dragged out, identified, and faced. Like the pain of a real wound, fear indicates that action is required.

Being ‘frozen in fear’ is an expression of our response to something sudden and terrifying. We have perhaps not even had time for a ‘fight or flight’ response to kick in. But, most of our fears do not fall into this category. They are insidious and if they are ignored they will prove debillitating!

Fear causes stress. If there is enough fear and enough continuous stress, you may not get PTSD, but depression and anxiety are probably already knocking on your back door.

The market dislikes fear. Fearful people will not be big spenders! The culture is supported by the market. Market forces and culture cooperate to keep the whole machine smoothly running. Therefore the market, supported by culture, actively suppresses fear. One way of suppressing fear is to revel in the fears of others. Reality TV, the News, and images of Iraq, are today’s equivalent of the Roman Colosseum which boasted three types of gruesome ‘entertainment’; the venationes, noxii, and munera. Another market-friendly way is to sell you a pill or two!

If you look at the map of ancient Rome, you will notice that the Colosseum is called the Amphitheatrum Flavium or Flavian Amphitheatre. it is suitably situated (territorialised) outside the main city but not too far away (I wonder why malls come to mind?). The analogy is perhaps just a part of life in any civilisation. But, in order to really deal with fear, the territory that it has staked out within one’s soul will have to be identified and then reterritorialised!

Real fear is not talked about. Fear is the enemy. Let’s suppress those fears!

The title link takes you to the “Rome Reborn” website. Check out the video clips under the gallery, especially the Colosseum in 3D!

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The Hiding of Paranoia

June 4, 2007 at 7:45 am | Posted in debillitating, dysfunctional, fear, ktismatics, normal, paranoia, paranoid, psychotherapy, PTSD, veterans, Vietnam veterans, warzone | 2 Comments

PTSD, what do you really know about it? Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has been recognised as a common aftereffect of exposure to warzones since the early 1980s. The phenomenon was first identified in Vietnam Vets. Now, those were the days of my youth in college and I got to know quite a few veterans of the Vietnam War on-campus.

I distinctly remember that many of the veterans had a heightened sense of imminent danger that we would otherwise call paranoia. Now, the odd thing is that during a recent series of exchanges at Ktismatics (follow the title link) on fear, depression, and how we perceive/understand reality, I looked up PTSD on a number of sites and found that paranoia, a heightened sense of fear/danger, is prominenlty missing.

I wonder why? Are we afraid to recognise just how devastating a condition PTSD is? This is certainly possible for the fact is that more than 30% of all soldiers in any real war will suffer from PTSD and for many of these people it will be a debillitating, isolating, lifelong reality, of being dysfunctional in society.

I’m just curious, do any of you know warzone vets who are not paranoid? if I had been subjected to these kinds of stress continuously even for a short space of time, I would be!

But, the more fascinating question that arises is, “is there any reason for people in ‘normal’ (not war-torn) society to not be paranoid?” Are these Vets perhaps simply responding to real dangers that actually exist but that we have sublimated for some reason or the other? Maybe society and the global marketplace are geared to bury the fears, so that production and efficiency are not affected… Even if it is not a silent conspiracy, could it be that fear itself is societally considered the enemy?

The reality is that it is not only soldiers who need to worry about PTSD, or live with fear. Any psychological trauma can bring it on including motor vehicle accidents, having been a victim of child abuse, rape, a natural disaster, and other common occurrences within ‘normal’ society.

Any thoughts?

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