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R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D.
Technical Paper No. 29
In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute
The Need For Holistic Fear Management R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D. Copyright 2007
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First Edition 2007 Cover and layout by R. Michael Fisher ISOF Logo (original 1989) designed by RMF Printed in Canada
THE NEED FOR HOLISTIC FEAR MANAGEMENT Technical Paper No. 29
R. Michael Fisher, 1 Ph.D.
ABSTRACT The author, a fearologist-educator, approaches the topic ‘fear’ from a transdisciplinary perspective, outlining seven important premises and seven principles for the creation of holistic fear management. The viewpoint of analysis and theory here is systemic, developmental, critical, holistic and integral, which are defined briefly. The author writes this paper in order to begin to address a great ‘gap’ in the research literature and practices involving fear (‘fear’) management.
This technical paper arose from a need to collect some of my research and ideas on fear and fearlessness in regard to two main areas which have been ‘calling’ for my fearwork and in which I have been invited to lecture and teach a short course in post-secondary settings. The first area has been Health Sciences (University of Lethbridge, AB, Canada), in particular applications of my integral (holistic) fear management theory to addiction recovery theory and practices in a postmodern context. Another spin-off from this connection of health to fear has come with an invitation to speak on Terrorism & Health in a course on health education and health promotion. The second area somewhat attracted to my work has been Peace Education. It occurs in retrospect that health and peace (safety and security) issues are clearly interrelated as our world is quickly coming to face immense challenges to look at the systematic intimate interrelations between peace and conflict studies, environmental studies, and health studies. Without real advancement in these areas, any notion of “appropriate” or “sustainable” lifestyles will be nothing but a fantasy and ideal. A sense of urgency (if not crisis) is felt by many today, and I write this with that sense but not one in which fear is the motivating force for the construction of an ‘emergency’ to it all. I think the latter would be a false generalization for the total human condition at this time. I would have many critics who disagree. I’ll touch on the problem of the current
Co-founder of In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ). For more information see his website (www.feareducation.com). Contact: email@example.com
“culture of fear” (especially in a post-9/11 era) and how the politics of fear is exacerbated to the point of obsession with endings, cataclysms, apocalypse and so on, all which are underwritten by a premise that everything is in “emergency time” (Pres. G. Bush Jr. of the U.S. was one of the first in the 21st century to capitalize on this notion)2 —this construction of emergency time has to be challenged, albeit, no doubt, it has a certain validity and in-touchness with current reality that has to be respected. All of these studies (above) are more or less concerned with education. I began my career in natural history and environmental biology, then turned to rehabilitation studies, peace and conflict studies, with the latest turn to what I’ve called ‘Fear’ Studies.3 This biographical sketch shows that I have been looking for the best way(s) to conceptualize and actualize a “healthy” referent or perspective that one could call holistic, systemic, critical, and transformative and emancipatory. I have always seen that the evolution of consciousness (awareness) is core to the health of any society. The more embracing (developed and evolved) our awareness of the “reality” around us, the better we are likely to ‘fit’ ourselvses and our creativity with that reality— how else can one define “healthy” if we are not in-touch with reality. I am not interested in admiring someone who is “healthy” (or “secure”) and is out-of-touch with reality. Thus, we are challenged to what is reality, for whom, and whom gets to declare this is reality, this is normal-- and thus, anyone who doesn’t see things that way is ‘abnormal’ (which surmises they are ill or unhealthy). I don’t believe we can enter any examination of “health” or “education” and seek quality within those domains of life without a philosophical (if not spiritual) perspective. Throughout this paper you will feel this philosophical/spiritual interest underlying the inquiry, theory, and practice which I advocate—and which is called critical integral theory (after the work, in part, of integral philosopher Ken Wilber, who’s work is well represented on the Internet if you wish to read more on Wilber’s ideas4).
See Giroux, H. A. (2003). The abandoned generation: Democracy beyond the culture of fear. NY: Palgrave MacMillan. 3 Fisher, R. M. (2006). Invokiing ‘Fear’ Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71. 4 It ought to be made evident that I have followed Wilber’s work for 25 yrs, and I am more a fan of his earlier work (prior to 1997). I also find guidance from his work in what is often not forefronted by his followers. In other words, I take seriously Wilber’s claim to do spiritual work that is not all “positive injunction” but that equally follows a “negative injunction” to “scrub narcissism from the program as much as possilble.... [with its] excessive egocentrism.... This includes a type of historical scrubbing [healing and transformation]: looking over our past pronouncements and fervent beliefs and seeing to what extent any of them were either created by, or perhaps over-inflated by, a narcissistic investment” (Wilber, 2002 Endnote 3 (Chapter 10) to Boomeritis: A novel that will set you free, from http://www. shambhala.com/html/books/boomeritis/endnotes/ch10.cfm/).
Part A: Fear Management/Fear Education: Two Peas in a Pod
There are many premises behind the research and teaching I do on the topic of fear (or what I prefer to call ‘fear’5). In this paper I only mention the most appropriate (basic) ones to this topic of holistic (or integral) fear management. Premise 1: fear management is what humans (and all living creatures) do naturally (and/or, culturally, spiritually) Premise 2: fear management is developed by some form of fear education process (naturally, culturally, spiritually) Premise 3: good fear management is good fear education and visa versa Premise 4: virtually every field (discipline) has some vested interest in the nature of fear and how to best manage it; for e.g., health practitioners often link the ill effects of “distress” (trauma) to the ill effects of fear/anxiety, be it individual or collective Premise 5: our current understanding of fear (‘fear’) is sorely lacking and this leads to the most severe problems on Earth (e.g., the current paradoxical “War on Terror”); fear does not exist without fear management (a relationship to a living being and intelligence/consciousness); fear management is a much more edifying focus of study than is fear by itself Premise 6: any absolute claim that fear is natural, is likely a lie with a hidden agenda (curriculum); this claim has proven to be one of the most prevalent in any text or training course (i.e., discourse) on fear management in the last 100 yrs Premise 7: fear cannot be understood without understanding the spirit of fearlessness
‘Fear’ with inverted commas signifies that the term fear (what it is, what it means, how it is defined or conceptualized) is under revision (in postmodern language, it is under deconstruction). ‘Fear’ is a much more complex, evolving concept and reality that is under reconstruction. I have many other publications describing this need to re-define and re-label fear as we have known it ‘normally.’ I suggest we have, especially since 9/11, entered very different times in terms of what fear is and is becoming. ‘Fear’ is a transdisciplinary term, meaning that all current disciplinary definitions of “fear” are suspect to being regretfully partial, unholistic, distortive, and biased to one or two disciplines (usually psychology and/or religion).
In a nutshell, I refer to “fear management” as the essential life-process of securing defenses against threat (real or perceived) of one kind or another. Clearly, anykind of health (like peace) must come when people and conditions are “secured” or “safe.” How one defines those terms, analyzes their health or pathology, is where it all gets very messy and controversial. I’ll say in terms of the issues in this paper: fear is to health as security is to peace—in terms of their importance only. Fear management, like security (defenses), can be carried out via instinct (genes-nature) and/or via cultural training (memes-nurture). Psychologically, and developmentally, fear management can be carried out by pre-egoic, egoic, or trans-egoic individual/group operations (see Principles later in this paper). Fear management is complex and “multi-leveled” consisting of (at least) nine generic (universal) fear management systems. More on that all later. Because fear management and fear education (analogous to sex management and sex education, or health management and health education) are so intertwined, I sometimes refer to this area as fear management education (FME). My bias as an educator shows through in this emphasis and framing of what makes fear important and how we best ought to examine the issues related to it. Part B of this paper is an excerpt of my writing five years ago, where I outlined many of my most precious findings and desires regarding the creation of a Fear Education Network that might be integral and holistic. I’ll define those terms “integral” and “holistic” below very soon. For those new to my work, reading Part B first is likely a good idea as it gives a better background for understanding Part A and where I am coming from as a postmodern fearologist-educator. I will focus this paper on the human-fear-relation (factor). For our purposes, fear is always relational to human experience, humans are relationally connected to fear—both individually and collectively— biologically, psychologically, morally, culturally, sociologically, politically, philosophically, spiritually, and so on. Simply, what fear (‘fear’) is, we make it that way (more or less). Fear cannot exist without fear management nor without cultural formation, the latter which dictates ‘acceptability’ in how to relate to fear (‘fear’). And in this paper I’ll attempt to show how we make ‘fear’ as we make ourselves and reality (a world of ‘fear’) across a spectrum of levels (of development or cultural worldviews). I’ll briefly mention nine fear management systems (FMSs) in my unique conception of a holistic (integral) fear theory.
Where is a Holistic Approach to Fear Management?
A holistic approach to fear and its management is not to be found. I looked up “holistic fear management” on a Google Search on the
Internet and there were no websites using that term anywhere. At least, in my 17 years researching on this topic, I have not found such a theory, model, or set of practices one could call “holistic.” When I look up “integral fear management” on Google, there are two hits, both on my website, both are locations I have talked briefly about integral fear management as my version of a holistic approach to fear. Let me introduce a few radical metaphors and ideas into this discussion. First, I’ll suggest that one can find, if you look hard enough like I have for many years, an innate force in evolution that always works at “managing” fear. This can be a very primitive “withdrawl,” “freeze” reaction or more complex animal “fight-flight” response. Because I am focusing on humans and culture, the innate force that manages fear (i.e., threat and one’s defense systems), is worth labeling “fearlessness.” Yes, I am suggesting that fearlessness appears the moment fear appears and its rebellious purpose is to overcome the limiting (toxifying) aspects of fear (‘fear’).6 Culture, as Terror Management Theory (TMT) predicts, is a defense against fear of death (universal to all human societies). I won’t argue the deeper metaphysical position I take in my work, as I have written about it elsewhere in other technical papers and articles. The point in this context is that fearlessness is the spirit of health (peace), if you will. It is an inherent intelligence to “recover” from fear (‘fear’). We’ll return to that later, and a more nuanced description of “fearlessness” as a highly developed/evolved fear managment system (FMS-level 7). In many ways, the perspective of FMS-7 (integral) is the perspective of which this entire technical paper is written, and in which I do my research on fear. You could say, this technical paper is a fear management tool, couldn’t you? It is educational in regard to fear, so that makes it part of a fear education process, and that is part of a fear management process. Ultimately, all this education and management is “learning”
The more complex nuance here is that fear management is not just defensive or retractive (i.e., creating “walls” or “barriers” or coping mechanisms to prevent the overwhelming of the biopsychosocial systems of living things, as Freud in part identified “defense mechanisms” as essential to some stability for the living system—albeit, they can go overboard to excess and cause neurosis and psychosis). TMT (from social psychology) is based on Ernest Becker’s theoretical work in the 1950-70s, on the existential predicament of the human organism and the notion that all culture is a defense mechanism against that assault on “self-esteem” from mortality, and that cultural productions (symbols, etc.) assauge that fear of mortality but do more, in that they create symbols of immortality (Wilber called “immortality projects”). From this perspective of TMT (well tested in the field and laboratory re: human behavior), the cultural worldviews (v-memes, FMSs) in my work are fear-based (more or less) in this existential sense. In TMT: “All the evils that people perpetrate can be viewed as products of terror management errors stemming from fear and weakness” (Pyszczynski et al., 2002, p. 196). Two excellent resources on TMT: the DVD Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality (Patrick Shen & Greg Bennick, 2005) and Pyszczynski, T., Solomon, S., & Greenberg, J. (2002). In the wake of 9/11: The psychology of terror. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
how to access and build-on the best intelligence systems re: fear (terror) and its management (i.e., the promotion of fearlessness). Don’t worry about getting all this “understood” at this point, some of it is too complex anyway for a brief introduction, but I wanted to mention it and trigger your own ‘fear’ vaccine processes (i.e., your fearless intelligence and spirit). Where is a holistic fear management? It is already in operation (everywhere, at some subtle level), since the beginning of time. The life-world operates holistically; it is the human-constructed cultural world that tends to ignore that fact, and now we are having to learn from our ignore-ance and arrogance (“sin”), to pay better attention to holistic reality and tune-in to it better-- as we re-design how to live healthily. Our “sin,” one might say metaphorically, is due to ‘fear.’ We have been too afraid to face the reality of fear in this world and in the nature of our vulnerable living organism (see TMT). I’ve written lots about the “fear of fear” as have many other wisdom traditions and critical thinkers throughout time and across civilizations. I’ll mention some of these later, but the point here is that our holistic fear management has been “lacking” and “insufficient,” “distorted” and “incomplete” (often “pathological”) for many different reasons. There’s no use battering ourselves over this ‘flaw’ in our systems and experience but really we want to focus more on what went wrong and what we have to learn and re-learn holistically to correct it—the sooner the better. The holistic movement, perhaps 100 years ago (mostly in the last 50 years), has really been about attempting a better way, a sustainable way, for humans to relate to this planet’s ecosystems (“laws of nature”). The health field has taken on much of the holistic perspective (i.e., the widest systematic embrace of all factors contributing to health and ill-health) in the last few decades. I call my approach to fear management holistic, but really it is holistic-plus. It is integral. The integral movement, primarily in North America and the West, is only a decade or two old and has been much less known than the holistic movement, but arguably is the next evolutionary step (thus, holisticplus). Integral includes all of the holistic truths (while separating out and critiquing its errors) and transcends the holistic perspective to take us into more complex embracing paradigms and ideas and values. The integral also critiques itself as not the ‘be all end all’ of evolution either. The integral consciousness structure sees levels of more developed embrace and maturity beyond even its own integral positioning. The holistic movement has never been able to come to grips with this ‘humility.’ It just couldn’t see it. I don’t want to use up space arguing around all of this, but rather will perform the integral approach (consciousness structure) here as you examine the models and
theories and ideas I present for a holistic fear management (which is really holistic-plus, or integral fear management). It is strategic that I am using holistic fear management to get people to read this work. If I used integral fear management that creates a barrier in my experience and people are less enthused to read and study it. ‘Holistic’ is familiar, and it is good to have a familiar (secure) term when one is bringing up attention to the term and reality of “fear.” Yes, “fear” as a word is fearful enough for most. That’s a big ethical and logistical problem in my fearwork, as you might imagine. Keep it in mind when you bring these ideas to others in your life. Most folks just are too terrified to study fear much at all (fear tends to get associated with trauma, and to look at fear is to look at trauma). Some argue that looking at trauma (fear) without the proper preparation and support can cause re-traumatization. In part, this problematic is also why I have introduced the notion of fearlessness as the basis of all fear management— fearlessenss is the spirit that knows how to deal with fear, and/or is continuously learning how. In other words, we have great resources available inherently (see Figure 1) to assist us in re-looking at trauma (fear). Fearlessness is a little more appealing to the public, but even that word is too triggering and frightening for many—they often criticize my use of the term because it is too “negative.” Well, that’s a whole other argument I have countered in several other technical papers. Let’s move on to my actual integral fear management (IFM) model, I offer as an image and workable theory for a much needed holistic fear management in the 21 st century.
The goal of education must be freedom from fear.... Until education is really based on fearlessness there is no hope of any change in society. –Vinoba Bhave
Integral (Holistic) Fear Management Systems Theory: A Skeletal Metaphor
I have studied the writing of thousands of authors on the topic of fear. They can be, more or less, classified into these nine FMSs. In general (rather gross) terms: the FMSs 0-4 focus on bravery as the best (management) solution to fears, FMSs 5-6 focus on courage as the best (management) solution to fears and fear itself, while the 2nd - and 3 rd tier systems (7-9) focus on fearlessness and fearless as the best (management) solutions—acknowledging that a combination of FMSs is likely best in most situations. The 1st -tier FMSs are all in competition with each other and the whole 1st -tier is in denial that 2nd or 3rd tier even exist (this is confirmed by TMT and cultural worldviews). This causes great conflicts (Fear Wars) on our planet. Various health practitioners/systems tend to favor one or more FMSs (and the correlative cultural worldview), and negate, deny, or attempt to eliminate other FMSs. This has major implications and any good holistic fear management (and holistic health model) has to take into account the conflict going on at the level of memes or cultural worldviews or FMSs. In terms of applying the integral FMST to health (Figure 1), I use the spinal column and skull of the human species. This bone structure has evolved (developed) for millions of years to protect the nervous system (spinal cord and brain). That’s what defense (security) systems do. That’s what fear does. They protect the vitals for the operation of the whole system. It seems an apt metaphor to depict how human cultures have evolved from a spectrum of worldviews (with attendant fear management (security) systems) beginning with the most fundamental (“primal”) functions at the base of the spinal column, to the most highly evolved complex “advanced” functions of the mind—albeit, these worldviews, like the nervous system levels, have an integrated connection (network) of communications for optimal functioning. The higher FMS systems or levels arise from the lower. The higher integrate and transcend the lower. The fears of the lower are solved by the higher system, but new fears are produced and a next higher system will be needed. That’s the basic way of describing Figure 1 as a hierarchical representation of the evolution of fear and its management in a nutshell. Systems theory is always hierarchical, meaning evolution is naturally hierarchical 7 -- as simple systems adapt
I acknowledge that this claim of systems theory, and my own preference in integral theory re: “hierarchy” as “natural,” is highly problematic to many folks, especially those who are centered around and self-identified with the values of “Green meme” (FMS-6). My argument is based on Wilber’s distinction between “natural hierarchies” and “pathological hierarchies” (the latter which Green meme can’t stand, and rightfully so). Green meme however, has to realize that its FMS-6 “wisdom” and “critique” (e.g., human rights, pluralism,ecological sensitivity, holism, feminism, postmodern postcolonialism) are also susceptible to pathological hierarchies that try to dominate (deny or eliminate) other cultural worldviews and memes or FMSs. That’s why the FMS-7 perspective is, in part, generally
and change to new conditions and have a “natural law” of developing more complexity and sophistication (more consciousness). However, the pathologies (fears) also grow in complexity within evolution (especially cultural evolution, as Wilber has pointed out). Some readers may notice that the color-coded FMSs are somewhat like the ‘chakra’ colors of esoteric doctrines. You may also know that the color scheme is taken from the work in Spiral Dynamics Technology (of which I have trained; see the Internet for more information—you are definitely advised to read up on each v-meme in Spiral Dynamics theory as to what its main characteristics are). I won’t develop the information and analogies here but there is an obvious increase of conscious awareness and capacities as the FMSs (cultural worldviews, or memes) evolve from the bottom up; also note that there are returns (retro-regressions) in this overall system when needed—that is, when certain FMSs are to be drawn upon for specific purposes and conditions (or healing). Yet, each individual, group, or society has a particular ‘center of gravity’ (norm) on this developmental spectrum. For example, I operate centrally around the FMS-7 (Yellow meme). The vast majority of the world’s populations (and their organizations) operate mostly on FMS-1-4. Keep in mind, different FMS are appropriate for different conditions. No one FMS is always better than another, however, there is less fearmotivated thinking (i.e., based on dualism) and behavior, as you move up the spectrum, because the spirit of fearlessness is developing all the time as evolution is learning and correcting (if not perfecting) its ways of managing fear (‘fear’). The 2nd -3rd tier FMSs are more and more non-dual based, with FMS-9 being completely non-dual. However, clearly, FMSs are slow to evolve in terms of establishing a new ‘centre of gravity’ in an individual, and particularly they are very slow transforming to the next higher level on a cultural or sociopolitical level of complex change. That said, the theory is that anyone or any organization, culture, or system, can draw upon the collective evolutionary intelligence to manage fear from any of the nine FMSs, at any time. I cannot go into all the complexities of how to read and apply this integral perspective (spiral dynamics) in Figure 1. For a more complex diagram of my Integral Fear Management Systems Theory (and the inclusion of the ‘Fear’ Matrix concept) see my website for an image of that theory (click under “Fear Management”).
‘superior’ in awareness and embrace of the differences in the spectrum of Figure 1.
Seven Summary Principles
Readers may notice a bit of a sense of overwhelm at this point, if this kind of knowledge is completely fresh and new. I suggest reading the paper over a few times, with a break in between. It can take days, or months for the new integral framework to ‘click in’ for some learners. There is no rush. You have barely ‘dipped your toes’ into the complexities behind the FMST I have presented here in this paper. As well, the theory is always growing each time I attempt to explain it. With that in mind, suffice it to summarize that a holistic fear management in Health or any other field, is possible. I recommend seven principles by which a holistic (holistic-plus, or integral) model of fear management ought to be based: Principle 1- the best overall holistic fear management will occur through using “critical integral theory” (i.e., a synthesis of systems theory, complexity theory, developmental theory, holism theory, critical theory, and TMT) Principle 2- the best fear management is one that is informed by a spectrum of multiple approaches; meaning, fear and its management have to be studied and practiced from several (nine possible) intelligence systems (FMSs) rather than just one or two (as is the norm) Principle 3- fearless is better than fearlessness, fearlessness is better than courage, and courage is better than bravery; however, each of these has its specific purposes and has evolved to meet needs under certain conditions; respect them all but also see that some are more advanced (intelligent) than others Principle 4- understand that FMSs (generally) are in a fierce competition for dominance (especially the first-tier); one ought not be naive about the vicious nature of this conflict; and one ought not impose any FMS on another FMS Principle 5- all FMSs have a ‘healthy’ and ‘pathological’ side (except it is rare for FMS-9 to be very pathological); the earlier FMSs are driven by ethnocentrisim and pre-egoic consciousness (animal instinct-1, magical-2, mythical-34, and the middle FMSs are driven by individualism to worldcentricism egoic consciousness (rational-5-6), and
the latter 2nd -3rd tier FMSs are driven by cosmocentrism and transnationalism, post- or trans-egoic consciousness (trans-rational 7-9) Principle 6- fear-based motivation is the dominant feature of all 1st tier FMSs, and yet the spirit of fearlessness still runs through the entire spectrum of development (consciousness) of all the FMSs Principle 7- just when you think you know everything there is about fear (‘fear’) and don’t want to learn more; learn more, and learn it from many different sources (i.e., different FMSs); high quality fear management comes from high quality fear education (not propaganda) One Application Example in the Health Field Birthing Rites and Rights: The conflict of dulas and midwives with the W. medical profession can be seen as a clash of FMSs (and/or “medical terrorism”). The survivalinstinctual FMS-1 (beige colored meme) in Figure 1, has no problem handling the pain/fear of birthing. It is called “natural child birth.” How a society relates to this basic reality of reproducing our population and species, is crucial to the way a society’s values reflect their fear(s). A lot of the 1960s revolution led to women/mothers/parents regaining some control (rights) back over the birthing process, a process which had pretty much been dictated by the FMS-5 (orange meme or worldview of modern scientific rationalism). Magical means of managing fear and death in pre-modern societies (FMS-2) had created a medical lore of plant and animal potions, spells, rituals, in order to assist with birth/death. Indeed, the FMS-5 can, and does, always argue that it has a lower rate of infant mortality in the birth process because too many of the earlier (pre-modern) ways were, and still are, medically unsound and not healthy. However, within the last 100+ years, with Freud’s particular influence, the birth trauma has been researched whereby medical procedures (environments, and policies) have shown to have devastating impacts on many areas of infant and family health (biologically, psychologically, culturally, spiritually). Some social-anthropological critics believe that birth trauma, due to medicalization (e.g., virtual “removal” of parents’ power to choose health-options in the critcal intimacy-bonding period at birth and during perinatal care) has led to mass alienation (neurosis) of current W. modern societies (at great costs to the health systems). One could go on an on with the critiques, most of which are led by FMS-6 (green
meme, or cultural worldview). FMS-6 is interested in the impact of fear and trauma, and existential issues (like TMT). FMS-6, the postmodern, is the “sensitive” cultural worldview that is trying to correct the pathologies of FMS-5 before it, and even back into FMS-4 (the Church/religious moral codes, and legal codes of the States power around birth, sex, and fear of God, fear of the State, etc.). FMS-6 doesn’t trust “progress” when FMS-5 pronounces it as the ultimate value. FMS-6 sees more and more fear being produced in late-modern societies and threats are greater with greater technology. A mood of pessimism accompanies FMS-6 as it fights to hold-off the increasing fear, but unfortunately it tends to reproduce it just as fast (typical of the “culture of fear” syndrome; see Fisher, in press8). One way of trying to organize a new framework of analysis of the conflicts, is to utilize an integral FMST approach, in which all the various colors/memes (cultural worldviews) and FMSs get their due and are heard at the ‘table’ of making policies about child birth (or any other topic of human social concern). Then, a whole range of integral/holistic solutions could be generated. This integral approach, although not perfect and no easy means to apply, could at least begin to unravel the current ideological warfare (health propaganda vs. health education) between the cultural world views (FMSs) that are competing for the management of fear that is related to birthing (and of course the risk of death or ill-health that goes with it). Birth reminds us of our death, and that’s when human can become very irrational (and violent), as TMT has proven. An integral FMS-7 perspective on all this would also bring in the perspectives of FMS-8 (Global and cosmic spirituality) and FMS-9 (nondual spirituality= fearless standpoint) as “wisdom” for the solutions. Ultimately, one can argue, from a FMS view, that the intractable conflict between the various agendas on child birth, rites, and rights, is that they are not listening well to each other because of fear/terror (‘fear’)—and they will each usually use fear-mongering (or terrorist) tactics to try to ‘win’ over their opponents. Such fear-mongering would never be encouraged or tolerated in the 2nd -3rd tier FMSs. That’s a huge difference. Unfortunately, the case examples in the real world using this later approach are not available at this early stage of development of this new theory (at least that I know of). I trust you will use FMST as a critical analytical tool, at first, and then find ways to implement for new designs to “health education” and “health promotion.” We need to learn to ‘talk to all memes’ (cultural
Fisher, (in press). Capitalizing on fear: A baseline study of the culture of fear for leaders. Minneapolis, MN: Intellectual Architects, Ltd.
world views, FMSs) in their own language, while gently persuading their growth along the ‘spiral’ or continum/spectrum of evolution. **** Part B: THE NEED FOR [INTEGRAL] FEAR EDUCATION R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D. Cand.
Reprinted from the author’s website, see Fear Researchers/Practitioners Bulletin, #4, Dec. 2002 (at www.feareducation.com)
IT IS NOT THE FIRST TIME I have written about my educational and political agenda around the topic of fear. I am searching for the harness that may best fit the work I perceive needs to be done on improving the collaborative efforts of fear researchers/practitioners on this mail list and beyond, to all those who are dedicated to a better fear education for everyone in this world. This bulletin No. 4 initiates an international scale project of advocating for fear education and setting up a website on the Internet to locate this project. What Is A Better Fear Education? Preliminary basic definitions: (‘education’ means from cradle to grave) 1. “Fear Education” —is the unsystematic, often habitual, way that cultures pass on (teach) information about fear and how best to handle it; in formal learning sites this may include information from psychology (primarily) but without a critical analysis of the knowledge of fear and prescriptions that follow from that knowledge 2. (Integral or Better) Fear Education —is the systematic, critical, holistic study of the diverse knowledges of fear (beyond psychology and common cultural biases) and the various ways to handle it within a developmental and evolutionary framework of understanding; this curriculum would be designed with the assistance of expertise (you folks on this list) and with the awareness of the 21st century demands upon us all. Currently, the fear researchers/practitioners on this list include professionals from Organizational Development, Business Management and Leadership Training, Security and Military, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, and Education. What if a group of us was willing to offer a concrete action focus to our network. This would be an initiative to guide a project of action in the world? I would be interested to hear all suggestions and coordinate a discussion around them. I am going to start by sharing one seed idea that just won’t leave me alone. I’ll keep it overly simple and state some
loose premises that have arisen from my research. In the future this will all be documented and supported more carefully. ADVOCATING FOR FEAR EDUCATION: CREATING A WEB SITE Some Research Findings And Premises The war without end, declared in a post-9/11 world, is the “War on Terror.” I have followed the discourses of leaders and popular culture and noticed that the original “War on Terrorism” shifted to “War on Terror.” The latter description either equally or predominantly was commonly used. I believe all wars, violence, propaganda, (and “evil” itself) are a lot about fear, and many observers have suggested likewise. For the first time, internationally, the world community (led by the American elite) have called-up the reality of the grand scale by which the world is controlled by those who can make others afraid, more than they are afraid of the others. But there are no escapes from terrorism and fearism—the cycle of violence is supported by the deeper more invisible cycle of fear, and the successful production/consumption of “discourses of fear”(1) in the mass media. I call it Fear Wars, of which nobody wins. It seems humanity now has a vivid and explicit codifying label and sign (9/11= Terror) to remind us what we need the most help with, if we are to ever find peace and freedom for all. F.D. Roosevelt’s fourth freedom is “freedom from fear” (which became part of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1943). I do not believe we have ever had the adequate fear education to bring Roosevelt’s dream to reality and in a post-9/11 world our fear education is more lacking than ever. Between 1998-2000, in graduate school, I critiqued conflict education/ management teaching models and between 2000-2002, I examined fear education/management models—the latter, with relatively few actual models or manuals to critique. My quick finding: is that our fear education (in the largest sense of those words) in contemporary W. societies is about as inadequate as was sex education (generally speaking) 100 years ago. The politics (power and fear) involved in the control of sex education is no different than with fear education. The controversies over them are likely to be the same, and with fear education I suspect even more contested. The difference being that fear education is 100 years behind the development of sex education and the current Fear Wars problematic is telling us this loud and clear (or not so clear). If sexuality
was eventually codified into ‘normal’ discourse and study, then why not fearuality? The future of humanity may be more influenced by the goings on of the latter, than of the former… whatever the case, it is time to BEGIN A CAMPAIGN, on the web first (building expertise advisors and grassroots movement), and then direct our campaign to our leaders, to everyone, to begin a quality fear education (Fear Studies) field. We have conflict education, peace education, AIDS education, religious education, health education, driver’s education and so on… it is time for fear education(2) (at all levels, appropriately and developmentally designed). What I Will Do? What You May Do? I will happily coordinate our energies, encourage and lead when appropriate, follow when it is advisable, and work my ass off to pull this off. I have dedicated my career since 1989 to this work, and I am in for the long haul. I could use a little help. I am a professional educator and I love doing the research and developing the curriculum and pedagogy required to do this well. I already have accumulated enormous resources in articles, books, contacts, but now I need financial support and your spirit to go the next steps. The web site I have envisioned would be extensive in complexity but with a clear message, interactive, archives, and room for experts, and for grassroots input and exchanges… that is, fear researchers/practitioners, and concerned citizens. I am asking that YOU CONSIDER STARTING THIS ALL OFF BY BEING WILLING TO PLACE YOUR NAME ON THE ADVISORY MEMBERS list which will be shown on the front home web page… as sponsors of this movement/campaign, at least in principle or however you would like to be so located as experts/supporters. With that credibility and your help (to varying degrees), I will get busy on all the rest of the work and present a proposal for you all to comment on. Some of you will have more time and energy for this than others, and that is completely OK with me. The website will be top notch (I do not have details of that yet). AT THIS TIME, ANY FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS as commitment statements would be very helpful to my going ahead and gathering the rest of the information required to build this website. I am thinking that you could be a FOUNDING MEMBER ($250 U.S.) to provide the start up ‘seed’ money. Other memberships can be offered in the future as the campaign enlarges and becomes financially sustainable. In a year or so, the formation of the design of the Fear Education curriculum can start to come together, and your input (more or less)
will be integral in that design. The pedagogical framework will be based on integral critical theory (Ken Wilber’s work(3) and others), which basically boils down to ensuring the knowledges on fear are brought together from all 4-quadrants of knowing (subjective, objective, individual, collective) which is another way of saying transdisciplinary. I am fighting for a critical pedagogy and curriculum here that would be exemplary of the highest quality because the content (fear) is of utmost importance to our well-being. People of all ages and backgrounds, need to learn to be curious and critical as to the nature and role of fear (and knowledges about fear) in our world. That is it in a nutshell. I want it universal but locally sensitive and flexible. I think this is my New Year’s Resolution. I look forward to hearing from you and critical comments are welcomed. I greatly appreciate your work on fear in the world and your willingness to stay in contact with me and the movement. Editor, R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D. Cand. Centre for the Study of Curriculum & Instruction, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia [If you want more information on my background/resume and publications let me know and I’ll send you more on e-mail] Footnotes
1. See Altheide, D. (2002). “Constructing fear: News and the construction of crisis. NY: Aldine de Gruyter. 2. Some may think emotional or social education or emotional intelligence initiatives (or conflict resolution, anti-violence programs) are already in place and adequate to the study of fear. I could launch a long critique on that material. Basically, those forms of education are virtually enclosed in psychologism (the domination of psychological information, methods and discourse)—over, and above all other ways of knowing. I refuse to let this happen to fear education (although, the implicit “fear education” we get is already overwhelmed by psychologism). The integral (transdisciplinary) approach is my solution. 3. Wilber, a contemporary American philosopher, has published for the past 30 years an East-West synthesis of the evolution of consciousness. His latest books include “A Theory of Everything” and “Boomeritis.” Check the Internet for more information or I would be delighted to chat with you more on this. I have just sent a review article to Harvard Education Review (a professional educational journal) examining Wilber’s work as applied to education (for adults and youth) and I could send you a copy of the draft.
Quick Reflection on the Past Five Years It is continually astounding to me how little interest (and mostly none) has been gained collectively with this 2002 initiative (which actually originated in 2000). It seems all the “experts” on fear are wanting to do their own thing, build their own careers, and so on. In short, all my conversations with them, more or less, ended without going anywhere, and without their enthusiasm to support FMST (with one rare exception). This certainly is challenging work, and one has to adapt to ‘reality.’ It has been all voluntary on my part. I generally don’t get paid for doing this research. So, I’m not sure what will be the next approach to collaborate, I only know that at some point we have to overcome our differences and synergize (integrally) all our findings and work to create a ‘mass movement’ of change and transformation in how humanity manages fear/terror. I look forward to health professionals or peace and conflict workers to take the lead in adequately (i.e., holistically) addressing the problem of fear (‘fear’) in our world. ****
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