BLACK POWER: WORDS HAVE MEANING

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Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies aimed at achieving self-determination for people of African/Black descent. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States. The movement was prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emphasizing racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests[3] and advance black values. “Black Power” expresses a range of political goals, from defense against racial oppression, to the establishment of social institutions and a self-sufficient economy. The earliest known usage of the term is found in a 1954 book by Richard Wright entitled Black Power. Although he did not “coin” the phrase, New York politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr. used the term on May 29, 1966, during a baccalaureate address at Howard University: “To demand these God-given rights is to seek black power.”

Origin as a political slogan

The first popular use of the term “Black Power” as a social and political slogan was by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and Willie Ricks (later known as Mukasa Dada), both organizers and spokespersons for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). On June 16, 1966, in a speech in Greenwood, Mississippi after the shooting of James Meredith during the March Against Fear,

Stokely Carmichael said
“This is the twenty-seventh time I have been arrested and I ain’t going to jail no more! The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over. What we gonna start sayin’ now is Black Power!”

Stokely Carmichael saw the concept of “Black Power” as a means of solidarity between individuals within the movement. It was a replacement of the “Freedom Now!” slogan of non-violent leader Martin Luther King. With his conception and articulation of the word, he felt this movement was not just a movement for racial desegregation, but rather a movement to help combat America’s crippling racism. He said, “For the last time, ‘Black Power’ means black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs.”[6]

A range of ideologies


Some Black Power adherents believed in Black autonomy, with a variety of tendencies such as black nationalism, and black separatism. Such positions were for the most part in direct conflict with those of leaders of the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, and thus the two movements have often been viewed as inherently antagonistic. However, certain groups and individuals participated in both civil rights and black power activism.

Not all Black Power advocates were in favor of black nationalism and black separatism. While Stokely Carmichael and SNCC were in favor of black nationalism, organizations such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense were not. Though they considered themselves to be at war with a power structure that was indeed mostly white, they were not at war with all whites, merely the individuals in the existing power structure, who happened to mostly be white.

Bobby Seale, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was outspoken about this. His stand was that the oppression of black people was more of a result of economic exploitation than anything innately racist. In his book Seize the Time, he states that “In our view it is a class struggle between the massive proletarian working class and the small, minority ruling class. Working-class people of all colors must unite against the exploitative, oppressive ruling class. So let me emphasize again—we believe our fight is a class struggle and not a race struggle.”

Bayard Rustin, an elder statesman of the Civil Rights Movement, was a harsh critic of Black Power in its earliest days. Writing in 1966, shortly after the March Against Fear, Rustin said that Black Power “not only lacks any real value for the civil rights movement, but […] its propagation is positively harmful. It diverts the movement from a meaningful debate over strategy and tactics, it isolates the Negro community, and it encourages the growth of anti-Negro forces.” He particularly criticized the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and SNCC for their turn toward Black Power, arguing that these two organizations once “awakened the country, but now they emerge isolated and demoralized, shouting a slogan that may afford a momentary satisfaction but that is calculated to destroy them and their movement.”

Internationalist offshoots of black power include African Internationalism, pan-Africanism, black nationalism, and black supremacy.

Background

See also: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The movement for Black Power in the U.S. came during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Many members of SNCC, among them Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), were becoming critical of the nonviolent approach to confronting racism and inequality—articulated and practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP and other moderates—and rejected desegregation as a primary objective.


SNCC’s membership was generally younger than that of the other “Big Five” civil rights organizations and became increasingly more militant and outspoken over time. From SNCC’s point of view, racist people had no qualms about the use of violence against black people in the U.S. who would not “stay in their place,” and “accommodationist” civil rights strategies had failed to secure sufficient concessions for black people.[citation needed] As a result, as the Civil Rights Movement progressed, increasingly radical, more militant voices came to the fore to aggressively challenge white hegemony. Increasing numbers of black youth, particularly, rejected their elders’ moderate path of cooperation, racial integration and assimilation. They rejected the notion of appealing to the public’s conscience and religious creeds and took the tack articulated by another black activist more than a century before. Abolitionist Frederick
Douglass wrote:

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. …Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.

Civil Rights leaders also believed in agitation, but most did not believe in physically violent retaliation.

During the March Against Fear, there was a division between those aligned with Martin Luther King, Jr. and those aligned with Carmichael, marked by their respective slogans, “Freedom Now” and “Black Power.”

While King never endorsed the slogan, his rhetoric sometimes came close to it. In his 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here?, King wrote that “power is not the white man’s birthright; it will not be legislated for us and delivered in neat government packages.”

Impact

Although the concept remained imprecise and contested and the people, who used the slogan ranged from businesspeople who used it to push black capitalism to revolutionaries who sought an end to capitalism, the idea of Black Power exerted a significant influence. It helped organize scores of community self-help groups and institutions that did not depend on Whites. It was used to force black studies programs at colleges, to mobilize black voters to elect black candidates, and to encourage greater racial pride and self-esteem.

Impact on Black Politics

Though the Black Power movement did not immediately remedy the political problems faced by African Americans in the 1960s and 1970s, the movement did contribute to the development of black politics both directly and indirectly. As a contemporary of and successor to the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement created, what sociologist Herbert H. Haines refers to as a “positive radical flank effect” on political affairs of the 1960s. Though the nature of the relationship between the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power movement is contested, Haines’ study of the relationship between black radicals and the mainstream civil rights movement indicates that Black Power generated a “crisis in American institutions which made the legislative agenda of ‘polite, realistic, and businesslike’ mainstream organizations” more appealing to politicians. In this way, it can be argued that the more strident and oppositional messages of the Black Power movement indirectly enhanced the bargaining position of more moderate activists. Black Power activists approached politics with vitality, variety, wit, and creativity that shaped the way future generations approached dealing with America’s societal problems (McCartney 188). These activists capitalized on the nation’s recent awareness of the political nature of oppression, a primary focus of the Civil Rights Movement, developing numerous political action caucuses and grass roots community associations to remedy the situation.

The National Black Political Convention, held March 10–12, 1972, was a significant milestone in black politics of the Black Power era. Held in Gary, Indiana, a majority black city, the convention included a diverse group of black activists, although it completely excluded whites. The convention was criticized for its racial exclusivity by Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, a group that supported integration. The delegates created a National Black Political Agenda with stated goals including the election of a proportionate number of black representatives to Congress, community control of schools, national health insurance, etc. Though the convention did not result in any direct policy, the convention advanced goals of the Black Power movement and left participants buoyed by a spirit of possibility and themes of unity and self-determination. A concluding note to the convention, addressing its supposed idealism, read: “At every critical moment of our struggle in America we have had to press relentlessly against the limits of the ‘realistic’ to create new realities for the life of our people. This is our challenge at Gary and beyond, for a new Black politics demands new vision, new hope and new definitions of the possible. Our time has come. These things are necessary. All things are possible.” Though such political activism may not have resulted in direct policy, they provided political models for later movements, advanced a pro-black political agenda, and brought sensitive issues to the forefront of American politics. In its confrontational and often oppositional nature, the Black Power movement, started a debate within the black community and America as a nation over issues of racial progress, citizenship, and democracy, namely “the nature of American society and the place of the African American in it.”. The continued intensity of debate over these same social and political issues is a tribute to the impact of the Black Power movement in arousing the political awareness and passions of citizens.
Impact on other movements

Though the aims of the Black Power movement were racially specific, much of the movement’s impact has been its influence on the development and strategies of later political and social movements. By igniting and sustaining debate on the nature of American society, the Black Power movement created what other multiracial and minority groups interpreted to be a viable template for the overall restructuring of society. By opening up discussion on issues of democracy and equality, the Black Power movement paved the way for a diverse plurality of social justice movements, including black feminism, environmental movements, affirmative action, and gay and lesbian rights. Central to these movements were the issues of identity politics and structural inequality, features emerging from the Black Power movement [18] Because the Black Power movement emphasized and explored a black identity, movement activists were forced to confront issues of gender, class and as well. Many activists in the Black Power movement became active in related movements. This is seen in the case of the “second wave” of women’s right activism, a movement supported and orchestrated to a certain degree by women working from within the coalition ranks of the Black Power movement.[19] The boundaries between social movements became increasingly unclear at the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s; where the Black Power movement ends and where these other social movements begin is often unclear. “It is pertinent to note that as the movement expanded the variables of gender, class, and only compounded issues of strategy and methodology in black protest thought.”
Impact on African-American identity

Due to the negative and militant reputation of such auxiliaries as that of the Black Panther Party, many people felt that this movement of “insurrection” would soon serve to cause discord, and disharmony through the entire U.S. Even Stokely Carmichael stated, “When you talk of Black Power, you talk of building a movement that will smash everything Western civilization has created.” Though Black Power at the most basic level refers to a political movement, the psychological and cultural messages of the Black Power movement, though less tangible, have had perhaps a longer lasting impact on American society than concrete political changes. Indeed, “fixation on the ‘political’ hinders appreciation of the movement’s cultural manifestations and unnecessarily obscures black culture’s role in promoting the psychological well being of the Afro-American people.”. States William L. Van Deburg, author of A New Day in Babylon, “movement leaders never were as successful in winning power for the people as they were in convincing people that they had sufficient power within themselves to escape ‘the prison of self-deprecation’” Primarily, the liberation and empowerment experienced by African Americans occurred in the psychological realm. The movement uplifted the black community as a whole by cultivating feelings of racial solidarity, often in opposition to the world of white Americans, a world that had physically and psychologically oppressed Blacks for generations. Through the movement, Blacks came to understand themselves and their culture by exploring and debating the question, “who are we?” in order to establish a unified and viable identity.

Throughout the Civil Rights Movement and black history a tension has existed between those wishing to minimize and maximize racial difference. W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr. often attempted to deemphasize race in their quest for equality, while those advocating for separatism and colonization emphasized an extreme and irreconcilable difference between races. The Black Power movement largely achieved an equilibrium of “balanced and humane ethnocentrism.” The impact of the Black Power movement in generating valuable discussion about ethnic identity and black consciousness manifests itself in the relatively recent proliferation of academic fields such as American studies, Black Studies, and Africana studies in both national and international institutions.[25] The respect and attention accorded to African Americans’ history and culture in both formal and informal settings today is largely a product of the movement for Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s.
Impact in Britain

Black Power got a foothold in Britain when Carmichael came to London in July 1967 to attend the Dialectics of Liberation Congress. As well as his address at the Congress, he also made a speech at Speakers’ Corner. At that time there was no Black Power organization in Britain although there was Michael X’s Racial Adjustment Action Society. However this was more influenced by the visit of Malcolm X in that year. Michael X also adopted Islam at this stage, whereas Black Power was not organised around any religious confession. The Black Power Manifesto was launched on 10 November 1967, published by the Universal Coloured People’s Association. Obi Egbuna, the spokesperson for the group, claimed they had recruited 778 members in London during the previous seven weeks. In 1968 Egbuni published Black Power or Death. He was also active with CLR James and Calvin Hernton in the Antiuniversity of London,set up following the Dialectics of Liberation Congress.
Black is beautiful
Main article: Black is beautiful

The cultivation of pride in the African-American race was often summarized in the phrase “Black is Beautiful”. The phrase is rooted in its historical context, yet the relationship to it has changed in contemporary times. “I don’t think it’s ‘Black is beautiful’ anymore. It’s ‘I am beautiful and I’m black.’ It’s not the symbolic thing, the afro, power sign… That phase is over and it succeeded. My children feel better about themselves and they know that they’re black,” stated a respondent in Bob Blauner’s longitudinal oral history of U.S. race relations in 1986.[29] The outward manifestations of an appreciation and celebration of blackness abound: black dolls, natural hair, black Santas, models and celebrities that were once rare and symbolic have become commonplace.

The “Black is beautiful” cultural movement aimed to dispel the notion that black people’s natural features such as skin color, facial features and hair are inherently ugly. John Sweat Rock was the first to coin the phrase “Black is Beautiful”, in the slavery era. The movement asked that men and women stop straightening their hair and attempting to lighten or bleach their skin. The prevailing idea in American culture was that black features are less attractive or desirable than white features. The movement is largely responsible for the popularity of the Afro. Most importantly, it gave a generation of African Americans the courage to feel good about who they are and how they look.
Impact on arts and culture

The Black Power movement produced artistic and cultural products that both embodied and generated pride in “blackness” and further defined an African-American identity that remains contemporary. Black Power is often seen as a cultural revolution as much as a political revolution, with the goal of celebrating and emphasizing the distinctive group culture of African Americans to an American society that had previously been dominated by white artistic and cultural expressions. Black power utilized all available forms of folk, literary, and dramatic expression based in a common ancestral past to promote a message of self-actualization and cultural self-definition. The emphasis on a distinctive black culture during the Black Power movement publicized and legitimized a culture gap between Blacks and Whites that had previously been ignored and denigrated. More generally, in recognizing the legitimacy of another culture and challenging the idea of white cultural superiority, the Black Power movement paved the way for the celebration of multiculturalism in America today.

The cultural concept of “soul” was fundamental to the image of African-American culture embodied by the Black Power movement. Soul, a type of “in-group cultural cachet,” was closely tied to black America’s need for individual and group self-identification. A central expression of the “soulfulness” of the Black Power generation was a cultivation of aloofness and detachment, the creation of an “aura or emotional invulnerability,” a persona that challenged their position of relative powerlessness in greater society. The nonverbal expressions of this attitude, including everything from posture to handshakes, were developed as a counterpoint to the rigid, “up-tight” mannerisms of white people. Though the iconic symbol of black power, the arms raised with biceps flexed and clenched fists, is temporally specific, variants of the multitude of handshakes, or “giving and getting skin,” in the 1960s and 1970s as a mark of communal solidarity continue to exist as a part of black culture. Clothing style also became an expression of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s. Though many of the popular trends of the movement remained confined to the decade, the movement redefined standards of beauty that were historically influenced by Whites and instead celebrated a natural “blackness.” As Stokely Carmichael said in 1966, “We have to stop being ashamed of being black. A broad nose, thick lip and nappy hair is us and we are going to call that beautiful whether they like it or not.” “Natural” hair styles, such as the Afro, became a socially acceptable tribute to group unity and a highly visible celebration of black heritage. Though the same social messages may no longer consciously influence individual hair or clothing styles in today’s society, the Black Power movement was influential in diversifying standards of beauty and aesthetic choices. The Black Power movement raised the idea of a black aesthetic that revealed the worth and beauty of all black people.

In developing a powerful identity from the most elemental aspects of African-American folk life, the Black Power movement generated attention to the concept of “soul food,” a fresh, authentic, and natural style of cooking that originated in Africa. The flavor and solid nourishment of the food was credited with sustaining African Americans through centuries of oppression in America and became an important aid in nurturing contemporary racial pride.[37] Black Power advocates used the concept of “soul food” to further distinguish between white and black culture; though the basic elements of soul food were not specific to African-American food, Blacks believed in the distinctive quality, if not superiority, of foods prepared by Blacks. No longer racially specific, traditional “soul foods” such as yams, collard greens, and deep-fried chicken continue to hold a place in contemporary culinary life.
Black Arts Movement
Main article: Black Arts Movement

The Black Arts Movement or BAM, founded in Harlem by writer and activist Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoy Jones), can be seen as the artistic branch of the Black Power movement.[38] This movement inspired black people to establish ownership of publishing houses, magazines, journals and art institutions. Other well-known writers who were involved with this movement included Nikki Giovanni; Don L. Lee, later known as Haki Madhubuti; Sonia Sanchez; Maya Angelou; Dudley Randall; Sterling Plumpp; Larry Neal; Ted Joans; Ahmos Zu-Bolton; and Etheridge Knight. Several black-owned publishing houses and publications sprang from the BAM, including Madhubuti’s Third World Press, Broadside Press, Zu-Bolton’s Energy Black South Press, and the periodicals Callaloo and Yardbird Reader. Although not strictly involved with the Movement, other notable African-American writers such as novelists Ishmael Reed and Toni Morrison and poet Gwendolyn Brooks can be considered to share some of its artistic and thematic concerns.

BAM sought “to link, in a highly conscious manner, art and politics in order to assist in the liberation of black people”, and produced an increase in the quantity and visibility of African-American artistic production. Though many elements of the Black Arts movement are separate from the Black Power movement, many goals, themes, and activists overlapped. Literature, drama, and music of Blacks “served as an oppositional and defensive mechanism through which creative artists could confirm their identity while articulating their own unique impressions of social reality.” In addition to acting as highly visible and unifying representations of “blackness,” the artistic products of the Black Power movement also utilized themes of black empowerment and liberation. For instance, black recording artists not only transmitted messages of racial unity through their music, they also became significant role models for a younger generation of African Americans. Updated protest songs not only bemoaned oppression and societal wrongs, but utilized adversity as a reference point and tool to lead others to activism. Some Black Power era artists conducted brief mini-courses in the techniques of empowerment. In the tradition of cultural nationalists, these artists taught that in order to alter social conditions, Blacks first had to change the way they viewed themselves; they had to break free of white norms and strive to be more natural, a common theme of African-American art and music. Musicians such as the Temptations sang lyrics such as “I have one single desire, just like you / So move over, son, ‘cause I’m comin’ through” in their song “Message From a Black Man,” they expressed the revolutionary sentiments of the Black Power movement.

Ishmael Reed, who is considered neither a movement apologist nor advocate, said: “I wasn’t invited to participate because I was considered an integrationist” but he went on to explain the positive aspects of the Black Arts Movement and the Black Power movement:

I think what Black Arts did was inspire a whole lot of Black people to write. Moreover, there would be no multiculturalism movement without Black Arts. Latinos, Asian Americans, and others all say they began writing as a result of the example of the 1960s. Blacks gave the example that you don’t have to assimilate. You could do your own thing, get into your own background, your own history, your own tradition and your own culture. I think the challenge is for cultural sovereignty and Black Arts struck a blow for that.

By breaking into a field typically reserved for white Americans, artists of the Black Power era expanded opportunities for current African Americans. “Today’s writers and performers,” writes William L. Van Deburg, “recognize that they owe a great deal to Black Power’s explosion of cultural orthodoxy”.

SOURCE

FEAR: WORDS HAVE MEANING

FEAR

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible. Some psychologists such as John B. Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that there is only a small set of basic or innate emotions and that fear is one of them. This hypothesized set includes such emotions as joy, sadness, fright, dread, horror, panic, anxiety, acute stress reaction and anger. Fear should be distinguished from the emotion anxiety, which typically occurs without any certain or immediate external threat.


Fear is frequently related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. Fear can also be an instant reaction to something presently happening. All people have an instinctual response to potential danger, which is in fact important to the survival of all species. The reactions elicited from fear are seen through advantages in evolution. Fear can be a manipulating and controlling factor in an individual’s life.

Contents
1 Common fears
1.1 Fear of death
1.2 Fear of the unknown
1.3 Fear of survival
1.4 Unpredictability
2 Causes
2.1 Fear in the amygdala
3 Diagnosing fear
4 The absence of fear
5 Fears in culture
5.1 Death
5.2 Religion
5.3 Manipulation
5.4 Mirroring fears
6 Neurology
7 Overcoming fear
8 See also
9 References
10 Further reading
11 External links

According to surveys, some of the most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations and public speaking. In a test of what people fear the most, Bill Tancer analyzed the most frequent online search queries that involved the phrase, “fear of…”. This follows the assumption that people tend to seek information on the issues that concern them the most. His top ten list of fears consisted of flying, heights, clowns, intimacy, death, rejection, people, snakes, failure, and driving.

Though most arachnids are harmless, a person with arachnophobia may still panic or feel uneasy around one. Sometimes, even an object resembling a spider can trigger a panic attack in an arachnophobic individual. The above cartoon is a depiction of the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet”, in which the title character is “frightened away” by a spider.
One of the most common fears in humans is the fear of public speaking. People may be comfortable speaking inside a room but when it becomes public speaking, fear enters in the form of suspicion over whether the words uttered are correct or incorrect because there are many to judge them. Another common fear can be of pain, or of someone damaging a person. Fear of pain in a plausible situation brings flinching, or cringing.
In a 2005 Gallup poll (U.S.A.), a national sample of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 were asked what they feared the most. The question was open ended and participants were able to say whatever they wanted. The top ten fears were, in order: terrorist attacks, spiders, death, being a failure, war, criminal or gang violence, being alone, the future, and nuclear war.[5]
Fear of death[edit]


Psychologists have addressed the hypothesis that fear of death motivates religious commitment, and that it may be alleviated by assurances about an afterlife. Empirical research on this topic has been equivocal.[citation needed] According to Kahoe and Dunn, people who are most firm in their faith and attend religious services weekly are the least afraid of dying. A survey of people in various Christian denominations showed a negative correlation between fear of death and religious concern.


In another study, data from a sample of white, Christian men and women were used to test the hypothesis that traditional, church-centered religiousness and de-institutionalized spiritual seeking are distinct ways of approaching fear of death in old age. Both religiousness and spirituality were related to positive psychosocial functioning, but only church-centered religiousness protected subjects against the fear of death.


Shelly Kagan examines the philosophical background of whether fear of death makes sense (not about the actual kind of emotional reaction). In this context he states in one of his lectures, that there are certain conditions to fear in general to make sense:


fear requires something bad, as the object of fear and
there’s got to be a nonnegligible chance of the bad state of affairs happening, to their mind
Fear of the unknown

A common reaction to fear.


Many people are scared of the “unknown.” The unknown can branch out to many areas such as the hereafter, the next ten years, or even tomorrow. Many people are too scared to take the path they want to, because of what may lie ahead. Fear of the unknown is one of the reasons that people do not make an effort to enhance their scholarly education. However, if they do, most people would rather teach things they’ve been taught than go and do research on something new. They perceive this as a risk that may cause them fear and stress.[3] This can lead to habits such as procrastination.


People usually fear uncertainty. Parents tell their children not to talk to strangers in order to protect them. However, some research suggests we should not fear strangers but be mindful of the risks that they could pose on children.


Fear of survival

According to Irfan Jamil, coadjutor bishop of Lahore, as the world constantly changes, the greatest fear is the fear of survival. The social, economical, spiritual, political and educational circumstances in life make survival difficult in regard to such pressures that can come out of it.

Unpredictability
The fear and stress of living in a constantly-unpredictable environment can cause a number of anxiety disorders and other psychological problems.

Causes
People develop specific fears as a result of learning. This has been studied in psychology as fear conditioning, beginning with John B. Watson’s Little Albert experiment in 1920, which was inspired after observing a child with an irrational fear of dogs. In this study, an 11-month-old boy was conditioned to fear a white rat in the laboratory. The fear became generalized to include other white, furry objects, such as a rabbit, dog, and even a ball of cotton.


In the real world, fear can be acquired by a frightening traumatic accident. For example, if a child falls into a well and struggles to get out, he or she may develop a fear of wells, heights (acrophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), or water (aquaphobia). There are studies looking at areas of the brain that are affected in relation to fear. When looking at these areas (such as the amygdala), it was proposed that a person learns to fear regardless of whether they themselves have experienced trauma, or if they have observed the fear in others. In a study completed by Andreas Olsson, Katherine I. Nearing and Elizabeth A. Phelps the amygdala were affected both when subjects observed someone else being submitted to an aversive event, knowing that the same treatment awaited themselves, and when subjects were subsequently placed in a fear-provoking situation.[11] This suggests that fear can develop in both conditions, not just simply from personal history.


The creation of fear is affected by cultural influences and historical experience, especially during childhood or after serious accident happened. For example, in the early 20th century, many Americans feared polio, a disease that cripples the body part it affects, leaving that body part immobilized for the rest of one’s life. There are also consistent cross-cultural differences in how people respond to fear. Display rules affect how likely people are to show the facial expression of fear and other emotions.


Although fear is learned, the capacity to fear is part of human nature. Many studies have found that certain fears (e.g. animals, heights) are much more common than others (e.g. flowers, clouds). These fears are also easier to induce in the laboratory. This phenomenon is known as preparedness. Because early humans that were quick to fear dangerous situations were more likely to survive and reproduce, preparedness is theorized to be a genetic effect that is the result of natural selection.


From an evolutionary psychology perspective, different fears may be different adaptations that have been useful in our evolutionary past. They may have developed during different time periods. Some fears, such as fear of heights, may be common to all mammals and developed during the mesozoic period. Other fears, such as fear of snakes, may be common to all simians and developed during the cenozoic time period. Still others, such as fear of mice and insects, may be unique to humans and developed during the paleolithic and neolithic time periods (when mice and insects become important carriers of infectious diseases and harmful for crops and stored foods).


Fear is high only if the observed risk and seriousness both are high and is low if one or the other of the seen risk or seriousness is low.


Fear in the amygdala
The brain structure that is the center of most neurobiological events associated with fear is the amygdala, located behind the pituitary gland. The role of the amygdala in fear is best understood as part of a circuitry of fear learning.[2] It is essential for proper adaptation to stress and specific modulation of emotional learning and memory. In the presence of a threatening stimulus, the amygdala generates the secretion of hormones that influence fear and aggression.[14] Once response to the stimulus in the form of fear or aggression commences, the amygdala may elicit the release of hormones into the body to put the person into a state of alertness, in which they are ready to move, run, fight, etc. This defensive response is generally referred to in physiology as the fight-or-flight response regulated by the hypothalamus.[15] Once the person is in safe mode, meaning that there are no longer any potential threats surrounding them, the amygdala will send this information to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) where it is stored for similar future situations. The storing of memory in the mPFC is known as memory consolidation.


Some of the hormones involved during the state of fight-or-flight include epinephrine and norepinephrine and cortisol. Epinephrine regulates heart rate and metabolism as well as dilating blood vessels and air passages. Norepinephrine increases heart rate, blood flow to skeletal muscles and the release of glucose from energy stores.[17] Cortisol increases blood sugar and helps with metabolism.


After a situation which incites fear occurs, the amygdala and hippocampus record the event through synaptic plasticity.[19] The stimulation to the hippocampus will cause the individual to remember many details surrounding the situation.[20] Plasticity and memory formation in the amygdala are generated by activation of the neurons in the region. Experimental data supports the notion that synaptic plasiticity of the neurons leading to the lateral amygdala occurs with fear conditioning.[21] In some cases, this forms permanent fear responses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a phobia.[22] MRI and fMRI scans have shown that the amygdala in individuals diagnosed with such disorders including bipolar or panic disorder is larger and wired for a higher level of fear.


A treatment for fear conditioning and phobias via the amygdala is the use of glucocorticoids.[24] In one study, glucocorticoid receptors in the central nucleus of the amygdala were disrupted in order to better understand the mechanisms of fear and fear conditioning. The glucocorticoid receptors were inhibited using lentiviral vectors containing Cre-recombinase injected into mice. Results of this study showed that disruption of the glucocorticoid receptors prevented conditioned fear behavior. The mice were subjected to auditory cues which caused them to freeze normally. However, a reduction of freezing was observed in the mice that had inhibited glucocorticoid receptors.


Diagnosing fear
Fear is distinguished from the related emotional state of anxiety, which typically occurs without any certain or immediate external threat. Panic occurs when one is intimidated of a certain thing that reminds them of their fear, and experiencing an alarm response.


There are many physiological changes in the body associated with fear, which can be summarized as the “fight or flight” response. An innate response for coping with danger, it works by accelerating the heart rate, dilating the blood vessels, and increasing muscle tension and breathing rate. As the name suggests, this primitive mechanism helps an organism survive by either running away or fighting off the danger. After the series of physiological changes, only then does the consciousness realize an emotion of fear.


The absence of fear
Although fear is one of the crucial evolutionary mechanisms for individual survival,[27] in certain situations psychologically normal humans can behave without feeling fear, with a total neglect of potentially lethal risk. A classical situation is when a child is attacked by a predatory animal (or an armed human), and a parent starts an all-out fight against the much stronger attacker, totally neglecting his or her personal safety. This mechanism is present among many species, most notably when a mother behaves fearlessly towards much stronger opposition in order to save her offspring. Ethnomusicologist Joseph Jordania uses the term aphobia for the temporary loss of fear, induced by the release of neurochemicals in the brain which leads to a specific altered state of consciousness. Jordania calls this state the battle trance.[28] According to him, aphobia supersedes the individual’s instinctive fear for selfish survival and well-being, when more evolutionarily important subjects than that individual’s own life are in danger. These can be the life of a child, family members, or members of a soldier’s unit. Sometimes saving unknown humans or animals can also trigger the temporary loss of fear. Jordania suggested that battle trance and associated loss of fear and pain (known as analgesia) were designed in the course of evolution by forces of natural selection as a survival mechanism, as individual hominids were too weak to stand against the formidable African ground predators after they descended from the relatively safe trees to the ground. The state of battle trance, which can be induced by rhythmic drumming, singing, dancing, body painting, and the use of certain substances, allowed them to lose their individuality, obtain collective identity, and to fight together as a unit without feeling fear and pain, neglecting their personal safety for the evolutionarily more important reason. Unlike the feel of pain, which can be fully absent in some human conditions, there is no such condition as congenital absence of fear (although psychopaths are known to have a much lessened feeling of fear).


Fears in culture

Painting by Guido Reni c. 1611

Death
The fear of the end and its existence is in other words the fear of death. The fear of death ritualized the lives of our ancestors. These rituals were designed to reduce that fear; they helped collect the cultural ideas that we now have in the present. These rituals also helped preserve the cultural ideas. The results and methods of human existence had been changing at the same time that social formation was changing. One can say that the formation of communities happened because people lived in fear. The result of this fear forced people to unite to fight dangers together rather than fight alone.

Religion
Religions are filled with different fears that humans have had throughout many centuries. The fears aren’t just metaphysical (including the problems of life and death) but are also moral. Death is seen as a boundary to another world. That world would always be different depending on how each individual lived their lives. The origins of this intangible fear are not found in the present world. In a sense we can assume that fear was a big influence on things such as morality.

There is another fear in the Bible that has a different meaning. It says to fear God. This is not a fear as in being afraid of God. Fear is used to express a Filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subject of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience.[citation needed] This is filial fear. Jer32:40 “…I will put fear in their hearts… .

Manipulation

M. Korstanje argues that the fear may be politically and culturally manipulated to dissuade citizenry about the implementation of market-oriented policies, otherwise would be widely rejected. In contexts of disasters, nation-states manage the fear not only to provide their citizens with an explanation about the event or blaming some minorities, but also to adjust their previous beliefs. The manipulation of fear is done by means of symbolic instruments as terror movies and the administration ideologies that lead to nationalism. After a disaster, the fear is re-channeled in a climate of euphoria based on patriotism. The fear and evilness are inextricably intertwined.
Mirroring fears

Our fears are portrayed through sources such as books, movies. For example, many horror movies and books include characters who fear the antagonist of the plot. Fear is also found in mythological folklore and folklore superstitions. One of the important characteristics of historical and mythical heroes across the cultures is to be fearless in the face of big and often lethal enemies.

Neurology

Pathogens can suppress amygdala activity. Rats infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite become less fearful of cats, sometimes even seeking out their urine-marked areas. This behavior often leads to them being eaten by cats. The parasite then reproduces within the body of the cat. There is evidence that the parasite concentrates itself in the amygdala of infected rats. In a separate experiment, rats with lesions in the amygdala did not express fear or anxiety towards unwanted stimuli. These rats pulled on levers supplying food that sometimes sent out electrical shocks. While they learned to avoid pressing on them, they did not distance themselves from these shock-inducing levers.


Several brain structures other than the amygdala have also been observed to be activated when individuals are presented with fearful vs. neutral faces, namely the occipitocerebellar regions including the fusiform gyrus and the inferior parietal / superior temporal gyri. Interestingly, fearful eyes, brows and mouth seem to separately reproduce these brain responses. Scientist from Zurich studies show that the hormone oxytocin related to stress and sex reduces activity in your brain fear center[34] Process of fear -The thalamus collects sensory data from the senses -Sensory cortex receives data from thalamus and interprets it -Sensory cortex organizes information for dissemination to hypothalamus (fight or flight), amygdala (fear), hippocampus (memory)

Overcoming fear

Neuroscientists and psychologists are making breakthroughs in helping people overcome fear. Because fear is more complex than just forgetting or deleting memories, an active and successful approach involves a person repeatedly confronting their fears. By confronting their fears— in a safe manner— a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory or stimulus. Known as ‘exposure therapy’, this practice can help cure up to 90% of people, with specific phobias.

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