Fear

Fear: Across the Disciplines

Jan Plamper
Benjamin Lazier
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zw809
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  • Book Info
    Fear
    Book Description:

    This volume provides a cross-disciplinary examination of fear, that most unruly of our emotions, by offering a broad survey of the psychological, biological, and philosophical basis of fear in historical and contemporary contexts. The contributors, leading figures in clinical psychology, neuroscience, the social sciences, and the humanities, consider categories of intentionality, temporality, admixture, spectacle, and politics in evaluating conceptions of fear.Individual chapters treat manifestations of fear in the mass panic of the stock market crash of 1929, as spectacle in warfare and in horror films, and as a political tool to justify security measures in the wake of terrorist acts. They also describe the biological and evolutionary roots of fear, fear as innate versus learned behavior in both humans and animals, and conceptions of human "passions" and their self-mastery from late antiquity to the early modern era. Additionally, the contributors examine theories of intentional and non-intentional reactivity, the process of fear-memory coding, and contemporary psychology's emphasis on anxiety disorders.Overall, the authors point to fear as a dense and variable web of responses to external and internal stimuli. Our thinking about these reactions is just as complex. In response, this volume opens a dialogue between science and the humanities to afford a more complete view of an emotion that has shaped human behavior since time immemorial.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7813-8
    Subjects: History, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)
    Benjamin Lazier and Jan Plamper

    We habitually say that we see fear, that we smell it, touch it, breathe it. But how, after all is said and done, do weknowit?

    The chapters in this edited volume help us with just this question—how fear is variously constituted as an object of knowledge.¹ The contributions to this book emerged from a workshop in which a distinguished group of scholars (representing the fields of neuroscience, clinical psychology, philosophy, political theory, literary studies, film studies, economic history, intellectual history, and history of science) and one novelist gathered to reflect on the predispositions they and their disciplines...

  5. 1 FEAR, ANXIETY, AND THEIR DISORDERS
    (pp. 15-34)
    Richard J. McNally

    The psychology of fear is haunted by the ghost of Descartes. The traditional view of fear as a subjectively distinct feeling state accessible only to the person experiencing it seemingly implies a Cartesian dualism that harkens back to psychology’s prescientific past. Accordingly, psychologists keen to establish a science of fear have endeavored to exorcise Descartes’s ghost by reconceptualizing fear (and anxiety) in ways that eliminate its subjective aspect. This effort has been driven by the mandate that data in science must be public and observable.

    In a landmark paper, Peter Lang proposed “an alternative to the view that anxiety can...

  6. 2 THE BIOLOGY OF FEAR: EVOLUTIONARY, NEURAL, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
    (pp. 35-50)
    Arne Öhman

    Former U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush and federal funding agencies dubbed the 1990s the Decade of the Brain.¹ Indeed, thanks to an increase in funding and publicity there was a rare explosion in knowledge and research techniques about what is conventionally called “higher nervous activity.” Partly as a follow-up, partly out of a concern that other aspects of brain activity had gotten short shrift during the so-called Decade of the Brain, and partly to shift attention back to the Decade of Behavior (2000–2010), a group of leading U.S. scientists in 2007 published a manifesto inScience, demanding a...

  7. 3 HOW DID FEAR BECOME A SCIENTIFIC OBJECT AND WHAT KIND OF OBJECT IS IT?
    (pp. 51-77)
    Ruth Leys

    When on September 11, 2001, terrorists killed more than three thousand people in their attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, for Americans in particular the world suddenly became a much more frightening place. Insecurity became the norm as the Bush administration’s new Department of Homeland Security used its color-coded terror alert system to orchestrate and manipulate the public’s fears. Among the many consequences of 9/11 has been the flow of federal funds to scientists committed to finding ways to identify terrorists before they can act. One of those is Paul Ekman, a psychologist who has devoted...

  8. 4 SOLDIERS AND EMOTION IN EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY RUSSIAN MILITARY PSYCHOLOGY
    (pp. 78-98)
    Jan Plamper

    Looking for the emotion of soldierly fear in first-person accounts of the War of 1812 resembles the proverbial search for a needle in the haystack. One is more likely to discover overt absences that sound like this comment made by officer Mikhail Petrov: “Yet the Russian soldiers looked at the huge enemy hordes with an unflinching spirit. With Faith, Hope, and Love, and with the Great Suvorov implanted in our hearts, our souls were prepared for sacrifices to save the Fatherland.”¹ Only the following quote from Petrov offers a deeper glimpse into the soul of the soldier in Alexander I’s...

  9. 5 FEAR OF A SAFE PLACE
    (pp. 99-117)
    Jan Mieszkowski

    In her 1973On Photography, Susan Sontag describes the West as “a society which makes it normative to aspire never to experience privation, failure, misery, pain, [or] dread disease, and in which death itself is regarded not as natural and inevitable but as a cruel, unmerited disaster.” The suggestion that human beings have difficulty acknowledging their own mortality is hardly novel, but Sontag draws an unusual inference from the observation, suggesting that “the feeling of being exempt from calamity stimulates interest in looking at painful pictures, and looking at them suggests and strengthens the feeling that one is exempt.”¹ Her...

  10. 6 THE LANGUAGE OF FEAR: SECURITY AND MODERN POLITICS
    (pp. 118-131)
    Corey Robin

    My topic here is the political language of fear and one language in particular: security. There are other languages of fear: racism, religion, risk assessment, to name a few. But security, both national and domestic, is the most potent and pervasive. Security is the one good, theorists agree, that the state must provide.¹ It has the ability, like no other language, to mobilize the resources and attention of the state and its citizens. It has arguably inspired—and, in the case of nuclear deterrence, certainly threatened—more devastation and destruction than any other language of the modern era.² It has...

  11. 7 THE NEW YORK STOCK MARKET CRASH OF 1929
    (pp. 132-147)
    Harold James

    The U.S. stock market crash of October 1929 is indisputably history’s most famous financial collapse. It is evoked wherever and whenever financial sentiment becomes nervous. And policy recommendations for the following eighty years have consistently been made on the basis of analyses or presumptions of what went wrong in 1929.

    In particular, John Maynard Keynes’sGeneral Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money(1936) has at the heart of its diagnosis a critique not of the general operation of the stock exchange but specifically of the American market and its peculiar experience: its propensity to destabilizing and irrational speculation, which followed...

  12. 8 LIVING DEAD: FEARFUL ATTRACTIONS OF FILM
    (pp. 148-170)
    Adam Lowenstein

    Fear and film have always been intimate companions. One of cinema’s primal scenes testifies to this intimacy and originates from the medium’s very beginnings: the famous screening in 1895 of Louis and Auguste Lumiere’sL’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat(Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, also known as Arrival of a Train at the Station) at the Grand Café in Paris. The spectators in the Grand Café, among cinema’s very first public audiences, responded to the image of a train pulling into a station with pure terror. The power of this new technology to grant movement...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 171-228)
  14. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 229-232)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 233-237)