Things People Are Afraid Of

Too many to list. In fact the list of possible phobias identified is also too long to repeat. A curse of being human it seems is to be afraid, insecure. People handle it differently within our hard-wired fight-flight options. Do you get under the covers or rush outside to confront that strange bump in the night?
This afternoon a man gave feedback to Radio New Zealand host Jim Mora after Jim had discussed a guest's interest in astrology. The listener who felt compelled to contact Jim attacked him basically for giving astrology any credence ( even though Jim has been heard in the past week to diss it) So the listener then extends his banned subjects to include homeopathy, crystals and beings at the bottom of the garden. Wow thought I, all things I believe in.
So the listener must by now be frothing in apoplexy that National Radio is endorsing such stuff. And he is not alone, since we have officially a Skeptics Society, numbers unknown, but typically fronted by Vicki Hyde of Christchurch. It puzzles me why the media call on her repeatedly for her views on psychics, homeopathy, paranormal phenomena, earthquake prediction, astrology, natural medicine et alia. The media simply needs to seat a Vicki doll in front of the camera and replay the same sound-bite over and over.

I'm afraid of drowning in the deep blue sea and I would not temp rattlesnakes, wild bears or certain tough looking dogs, but I'm not afraid of magic, mystery, electromagnetic energy, plants that can heal, the power of the mind.
It always intrigues me to encounter people who are afraid of the most amazingly useful and helpful things. Their fear is extreme and irrational rather than practical and functional. They get strongly aroused in opposition to stuff that they may never have even experienced and they show a strong resistance to even trying to get acquainted with those offensive ideas or beliefs.
(update inserted: wow New Zealand National Radio appears to be a hotbed of conservatism. Programme host Simon Upton interviewed US Family Physician John House, who has a progressive approach to community health. To someone familiar with all things alternative this was an inspiring story, but to the host, Simon, it was virtually the work of the Devil. His anxiety showed through in repeated references to unhealthy associations, by questioning any links to Jim Jones (mass suicide), cults, and Waco (violent siege at Protestant community). Dr House had the commonsense and good humour to simply laugh off the references -probably because he thought they were too stupid to be anything more than a joke. The response to my email: "In our view there were some valid questions to be asked about the idealogy and philosophy underpinning the Barter Village concept.". The comments were described as "light-hearted" - which is the standard back-track position. No surprise there. Upton didn't even get the point. He is a classic example of how media shape public opinion.

One possible explanation when it comes to deep and especially irrational fears, is trauma carried over from a previous lifetime - so to comprehend this you need to be open to the notion of having lived many times before, way back to ancient times, and in varying circumstances and genders. Rich, poor, big, small, male, female and any of many possible racial groups. Lots of times and places in which to accumulate experience and memories to carry through. So do people who are afraid of the metaphysical -the realm beyond everyday material objects - have an ancient fear of sorcery or witchcraft? Are they associating alternative beliefs with the Devil? Are their minds locked into a tightly defined religious code that allows only their God to have total control? These people are desperately afraid of what they cannot accept. The problem arises for us in communities, nations and the globalised world, when people afraid of the beliefs of others seek to stamp out, repress and destroy the expression of those beliefs. Fundamentally this is the cause of immense destruction and death on a large scale. Fear is a powerfully motivating drive and it operates at its worst in conditions of contagion  -when like wildfire or horses spooked, the group mind operates as one -witnessed recently in the UK and London rioting.

We are living in a significantly anxious age, when understanding the nature of fear could be a survival skill worth having.

October 7 2011
The New ZealandHerald recently published an article on anxiety and phobia issues uncovered in a NZ survey of university students


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