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2/6/13 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Monday, February 11, 2013 1:45 PM
2/6/13 questions and discussion

1-when the robots can do all the labor, what will we do with all our time?4
2-what's the purpose of nature?4
3-should we try to overcome our fears?5


should we try to overcome our fears?

Rachel: after a recent car accident I became hyperconscious of driving and other drivers/cars. Then the more I thought about it I decided it's good to get over my anxieties about my car's reliability and the unpredictability of other drivers. I have friends who are afraid of spiders. Some people will jump out of an airplane to overcome a fear of heights. There's the fear of not saying something/anything for fear the listener will hurt us in response. Or not acting at all for fear of being hurt. It seems to come down to an individual journey. Sometimes others will try to force us to overcome fear and do harm to us in the process. We must decide for ourselves, but some fears are not worth overcoming.

Jon: any you wish you hadn't overcome or visa versa?

Rachel: I'm pretty adventurous, actually. 

Tor: the military systematically eliminates fears. Once I was driving in the Winter on ice. My car spun out ended up on the opposite side of the road facing the other way. The boys I was with was they constantly repeated "oh shit!" I asked them if that's what they wanted their last words to be! I once witnessed a car going over the side of a bridge. It made me freeze on the spot, refusing to move my car. That is, until the cars behind me began to honk. Later, crossing high bridges became very difficult for me. I dealt with it by repeatedly crossing a particular high bridge until I'd gotten used to it. This is how the military deals with fears too.

Eric: I've read about this. Repeating the traumatic story over and over with different/better imagined results can help. I used to ask here "what are feelings?" Since then I've come to a better understanding of what feelings are, brain circuitry, brain structures and each's function. For the most part we need to have some fears. Some fears are baggage. Some that were once useful but are no longer. 

Tor: a large percentage of people can tell intuitively if they're being stared at. Maybe intelligence moves somewhere beyond the brain.

Eric: once a therapist said you need to provide a safe place to do therapy. It dawned on me that the reason I wasn't making constructive changes was because I was feeling too safe! Comfort became uncomfortable.

Jon: PTSD cures are mostly mysterious to the mental health professions. As Eric said, sometimes telling the story of the traumatic event helps, but sometimes not. These fears are debilitating, even tragic because they can end in suicide or outwardly directed violence (see the recent shooting at a shooting range by a traumatized Marine). 

Hayden: I can't identify anything I am afraid or or can be afraid of. I understand it logically.

Rachel: have you been hurt?

Hayden: I bike brakeless. I don't recognize fear. I see its usefulness in survival. Once I was afraid of spiders. The movie Arachnophobia made me fear them, but I eventually got over it. I've done a lot of religious study and look at a grand variety of perspectives. That leaves me with no need for much fear.

Jon: there's a zen saying: "If there is a problem and you can do something about it, why be upset? If there is a problem and you can do nothing about it, why be upset?" This is logically sound but for me humanly impossible. Feelings like fear are how we make choices. I am told that there is no decision, no purely logical decision, that isn't ultimately decided by an emotion of some kind.

Hayden: [back to Rachel] yes, a bit. Was something wrong with me?

Tor: at your age you're supposed to be fearless. The military plays on that invulnerability. Frontal lobe, amygdala. My father was dying when I was 19 and I was to take over from him when he passed. So I had early practice at overcoming fears.

Jon: there's also frontal lobe development in humans. This part of our brain is the one that makes predictions, anticipates consequences, makes plans. But often its growth isn't complete until the age of 25! This explains a lot of "fearlessness" in young humans.

Hayden: I don't have much family or support, never have. A fatherless child, I have taken care of my mother and grandmother. I can recognize how this has affected me: abandonment issues. So I have experienced this projection. I don't see myself as immortal, just as seeing reality. I bring up my past as a sort of evidence that I grew up faster than I should have. 

Tor: the consequence of nature is a belief that the strong survive. Evolution, in truth, makes the adaptive one the survivor.

Mike: I once crossed the Mackinaw bridge and was impressed by its design and distance from the water below. I was given a book with stories of people unwilling to drive over it. I don't believe any other bridge has this particular relationship with some people. To Tor: military training can be deadly. I just finished Petraus' bio, it tells the story of a young soldier who tripped, accidentally triggered his weapon and the bullet nearly killed Petraus. (Petraus, after recovering, responded by sending that soldier  to Ranger School). Adaptibily would be a great topic for us at some future discussion. Confronting demons/fears is character building. This is something to encourage.

Jon: my wife always flinches when seeing a snake, even one in a photograph. No amount of logic can undo this response for her. This too is about something primal inside the brain. However we no longer reliably need to fear snakes, so she feels silly. I once worked at a Juvenile boys' camp and learned that the boys there were quite useless at wilderness survival and in fact rarely developed self-confidence to stay out of trouble from their time at this camp. I, on the other hand, came away from doing what they were doing with new confidence. Why me, not them?

Eric: schools seem uninterested in teaching kids to fear in healthy ways.

Hayden: 1) what Eric says is relevant to positive and negative reinforcement 2) to teach someone in another scene the mind must be made right. Jon likely came from a family and neighborhood/communi­ty that prepared him to benefit from that camp's confidence building exercises. Those boys didn't. Their lives back home likely included very little support for learning new skills, for being flexible in the face of new challenges. So for them those challenges at the camp overwhelmed them with fear.  

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