Thursday, August 2, 2012

Courage and Fear what does it mean?

I was on Google + a little while ago, and a blog popped up that peaked my interest because I had selected the topic of Courage and Fear.  So I read Jodi Arman's Blog entry "The Evolutionary Roots of Fear".  Her blog supports what I have always thought about the irrationality of fear and the development of the fight or flight mechanism in the human brain. As mammals, we have an instinctual propensity when we sense danger to tense up, fear creeps in and we either flee or fight depending on how we gauge our opponent.

Her blog goes on to state based on Sharon Begley's Newsweek article entitled "Roots of Fear" that our brain is hard-wired to override the logic cortex when we are afraid.  Basically what Sharon states is that the fear circuitry has more pathways to the aymgdala versus the logical thought cortex and allows the fear to over-ride thought. In a sense this is true in non-sentient creatures but we can think and override those fears, or we can brave through. I believe that this is a simplistic view not taking into consideration the complexities of the entire nervous system.  As I have pointed out in a previous blog entry, fear triggers a response in the autonomic and sympathetic nervous systems and which activates our fight or flight mechanism. Adrenalin floods our system muscles tense and our mind enters a hyper-arousal, where time seems to slow, pupils dilate, and the mind notices the minute movement of our opponent.  More about this can be found under the topic of Fight-or-flight response on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight-or-flight_response.

I honestly believe that Sharon Begley has a point in her Newsweek article that there is an ingrained and instinctual drive that has been bred into us from our earliest days.  That man has a hard-wired brain that reacts when it senses fear or danger.  However, I think that this hard-wired response is also responsible for the body's neurological and physiological reactions as well. The Nervous System plays a major part in the way we handle the situation we are in.  I also think that because we have the ability to think we can override these fears just like Jodi Arman's blog states.

But, I would like to carry this conversation a bit further than the brain, and nervous systems response, because I think as thought enters the picture we have the ability to overcome those fears.  Which is what I call courage.  Courage doesn't mean that we don't have fears or get afraid, it means that we have the ability to defeat fear.  We can defeat fear as Jodi suggest by thinking it through, or by acting through it.  You can find out more by reading her blog at http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/08/evolutionary-roots-of-fear/ .

Fear is a very powerful motivator, and it can grip us and paralyze us, but we do have the ability to out think it, we have the ability to confront it and work past it, and eventually defeat it.  There are tons of stories how a fireman rushes into a burning building and rescues someone, that firefighter had to confront his fears in an instant and react to the situation with lightening speed to make that rescue.  I honestly don't think that fear overrides the mind and locks us into inaction, on the contrary it is fear that causes us to look at the situation in a hyper accelerated manner and react and accomplish amazing things.

I do believe that primitive man may have been hard wired to the point where their sense of logic and reasoning was overwhelmed, but in our time I think that evolution has honed our senses and our reflexes to the point where our brain immediately assess the threat and reacts almost in an instant.  You can also find out more about the sympathetic nervous system at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathetic_nervous_system .  I encourage you to do some research yourself on this.

I believe that body is a marvelous machine that is powered by the most sophisticated computers the world has ever seen, the human brain.  I believe that the brain is more powerful than we give it credit for, and though the primitive responses that Sharon describes most certainly do happen, a whole array of reactions takes place at the same time.  Remember that as the brain recognizes a threat or danger, adrenalin is released into the blood stream the somatic nervous system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_nervous_system contracts the muscles causing them to tense, ready to spring into either flight or fight, they sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive and allows the brain to enter a state of hyper awareness and from there we react.

I hope you understand from this that I believe that it is possible for us as humans to overcome our fears, whether they are rational or irrational by confronting them and working through them.  Further, I believe that it is courage that gives us the ability to accomplish this.  This doesn't mean that we don't get afraid or suffer from fear, but that we can overcome it and be victorious against it.  I don't believe that our logic centers are totally overridden and we are locked into a state of panic and cannot think our way through the situation.

As I have said, please take the time to do some research on this on your own and draw your own conclusion.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B