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A podcast on fear

The "Ologies" podcast with Alie Ward: Fearology Pt. 1 (FEAR) with Mary Poffenroth

This episode discusses the limbic system's fight-or-flight response, in which the amygdala sends chemical signals to the thalamus. We tend to relabel "fear" as "stress" because it's socially acceptable, even encouraged, to talk about how stressed we are about our lives. "We feel confident talking about stress because we can commiserate, but we don't feel confident talking about the f-word because there's so much shame associated with fear in our society." (13:28-41) Yet we can't eliminate fear, because it's one of four basic human emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised ("afrised"), and angry/disgusted ("angrusted"). "How much do you think of our anger in general is just fear that comes out the wrong pipe?" Ward asks. "So much," Poffenroth responds. (48:25)

Poffenroth distinguishes "factual fear" ("actual threats to your life, that are happening in a shared reality, right now, that your body is responding to") and "fictional fear" ("just like a good fictional book might have a nugget of truth in it, but most of it is just made up"). (25:10-26:45) The latter is a good candidate to focus on to change our responses.

In the second part of the interview, which is delivered as a separate podcast episode, Pt. 2, Poffenroth mentions a study finding that extremely successful businesspeople used the word "fear" more frequently than "stress." (at the beginning of the episode) We tend to "dress rehearse" our fears so that we can feel prepared (at about 38 minutes), but, if your body is in a heightened state of stress chronically, that stress can negatively impact cellular regeneration. (at about 34 minutes)


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