More TestTube Plus:
Why are CLOWNS So DAMN CREEPY!?
What Would Life Be Without Fear?
Each week on TestTubePlus, we cover one topic from multiple angles. This week, we are covering fear: What purpose does it serve, how its crippling our everyday lives, how to treat it, and more. So far in this series,Trace has discussed how our brain reacts to fear, how some fears are embedded in our DNA, why some people seem to like getting scared, and even what our lives would we like if we didn't have any fear. For the final episode of the series, he asks: What is the future of fear...and we hack our brain to not feel it?
So far, this series has taught us that while fear is generally bothersome for most people, it can be fun for some, and overall is essential for healthy human development. Dr. Ali Mattu is a clinical psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in fear and anxiety. His work revolves around understanding what turns a normal healthy fear into something more complex like a phobia. The way he sees it, a fear is a short lived, physical/emotional response. A phobia is a more long-term fear that begins to affect your life. A disorder has to do with the degree it affects your life.
There's an entire of spectrum: from a fear of needles and fear of height to obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Dr. Mattu is trying to understand why some people develop phobias and others don't. He thinks that, thanks to genetics, some of us simply have a more powerful nervous system than others. Maybe they have a larger amygdala? Maybe their adrenal glands secrete more adrenaline?
In terms of "controlling" particularly strong fears, exposure therapy is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that's frequently used to help people cope with anxiety disorders that become unmanageable. It helps a patient conquer his or her fears by habituation, or slowly exposing them to more and more of the thing they're scared of. In a way, exposure therapy is "retraining" your amygdala.
TestTube Plus is built for enthusiastic science fans seeking out comprehensive conversations on the geeky topics they love. Each week, host Trace Dominguez probes deep to unearth the details, latest developments, and opinions on big topics like terrorism, alcohol, survival, black holes, the history of religion, dreams, space travel, the history of science, and more. TestTube Plus is also available as a podcast--click here to subscribe!
Why is Fear Fun? (Discovery News)
"With Halloween approaching, it's hard to avoid ghosts, goblins and other spooky decorations. But some people go even further, seeking out horror movies and convoluted haunted houses that are designed to scare the living daylights out of them."
Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear? (The Atlantic)
"This time of year, thrillseekers can enjoy horror movies, haunted houses, and prices so low, it's scary. But if fear is a natural survival response to a threat, or danger, why would we seek out that feeling?"
Modern phobias: The new fears caused by pressures of 21st century living (Mirror.co.uk)
"We are, it seems, a nation of nomophobes. That doesn't mean we are all now scared of garden ornaments - but that most of us are terrified of being without our mobile phones. According to a new study more than half of Brits suffer from nomophobia - an abbreviation of no-mobile-phone-phobia."
How Fear Works (How Stuff Works)
"The process of creating fear takes place in the brain and is entirely unconscious. There are two paths involved in the fear response: The low road is quick and messy, while the high road takes more time and delivers a more precise interpretation of events. Both processes are happening simultaneously."
What really happens when you're afraid? (Advocate Health Care)
"Your heart is pounding in your chest, your breathing is heavy, your hands are clammy and your muscles are tense. You're terrified, and whether it's from a fake zombie at a haunted house or something closer to reality, the reactions that your body goes through are no trick (or treat). But what are those reactions? What is really going on when you're scared?"
Why your brain shuts down when you're afraid (i09)
"Why can't you think straight when you're terrified? It's a question that haunted many people in the wake of yesterday's explosions in Boston, and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz explains the answer to you over at Time."