All entries for January 2006

January 28, 2006

On Fear I: Functions of Fear

Writing about web page http://www.ntv.ru/gordon/archive/10996/

What is Fear and what are the causes of Fear? In what ways can Fear be constructive and destructive? How to cope with Fear? How is human Fear different from that of animals? Could aggression, anger and cruelty be manifestations of Fear in their essence?

We all fear, which makes Fear about the most common and the most natural emotion we experience. Fear can be constructive, but can also be dangerous to the point where it leads to decay of personality. Fear has many degrees and correlates with many other emotions like anger or obsession.

The outstanding Russian physiologist Pavlov defined Fear as a ‘natural reflex; passively defensive reaction accompanied by slight disruption of brain functions’. Fear is based on the instinct of self-preservation and is therefore, of defensive kind. The feeling of Fear commonly occurs with shifts in the work of the nervous system, resulting in changes in heart rate, blood pressure, secretion of stomach acid. In the most general sense, the feeling of Fear is a reaction to a threat. The two most universal and at the same time fatal threats are death and crash of life values.

In their article The Psychology and Physiology of Fear, Scherbatikh and Nozdrachev define three principal functions of Fear.

On the surface level, Fear is a rather uncomfortable experience, that often upsets people, immobilises and may cause psychosomatic disorders. However, Fear was first generated in the process of evolution as a defence mechanism against threats from the nature. Later, with the creation and establishment of human society, many manifestations of fear have become rudimentary and inadequate. Pavlov wrote about our ancestors: “They had pure and straightforward business relations with the nature and its inhabitants. They were always either on the run or in a fight, both involving muscles”. This explains the set of symptoms Fear has engrained into human organism that instantly provides the thought-to-be necessary blood supply to muscles and mobilises the available energy within the body.

This would be the positive-constructive function of Fear. The ‘complex’ of Fear mobilises the energy that can come in handy in coping with threats in critical situations. This is mainly achieved by the influx of adrenalin in blood that supplies muscles with extra oxygen and minerals. The subsequent pailing of the skin is the most obvious indication of the effect of adrenalin: it forces blood to flow back from the surface of the body and stomach to be redistributed in muscles. Other Fear-caused reflexes seen in humans and animals had also been of targeted use: ‘hair standing up at the back of one’s neck (or on the head)’ was once designed to scare off the potential attacker, while the so-called ‘bear’s disease’ (upset stomach leading to excretion) reduced one’s body weight and confused the aggressor in case of necessary retreat.

The second function of Fear is in the strong negative emotions caused by pain or other unpleasant experiences. Miller in his classical experiments on mice proved Fear can be cultivated easily by putting live organisms through such unpleasant experiences. The memory of acute pain stamps itself on the subconscious of the organism essentially serving as preventative measure against encountering the cause of the pain again.

Finally, the third case when Fear arouses is in the situations when not enough information is available for one to make a weighted decision. Here, Fear dictates the strategy. Fear in this case protects the individual from both possible biological and social threats. It is in such cases that people’s organism naturally opens to and relies on a broader sphere of signals (what we could call 'become more sensitive'). Such effort may seem excessive and unnecessary, however, it serves to ensure the person takes in and considers every tiny detail in the evaluation of situation that may, in turn, save one’s life. This can also explain the nature of shyness.

So what does happen in a human body when Fear overtakes? Initially, one’s sympathetic nervous system activates, mobilising the available energy in the body and restructuring the work of all bodily organs, preparing for physical activity. This causes sudden increase in heartbeat, enlarged pupils, slows down excretion of acids and fluids (saliva) and other symptoms. At the same time, the endocrine system produces an influx of adrenalin, which narrows veins supplying the skin with blood, and in general acting similarly to sympathetic nervous system, dubbing its functions.


January 22, 2006

The best thing to hide in the snow is…

...a corpse

Currency – Vodka

The BBC Russia website reported of a little tiger saved from the hunters at the price of four bottles of vodka and 160 roubles ($5,5 or £3,2). It was a very young tiger, exhausted and hungry. The hunters gave a call to the local zoo-o-logist, demanding ransom for the poor animal. The zoo-o-logist figured the hunters were drunk and would probably accept vodka above all. Thus the deal was made and the tiger was rescued.

At the temperature of -30 degrees Celsius, Russian homeless people still refuse to attend shelters for the homeless, because admitting to the place means giving up the vodka. A bottle or two of the holy drink makes them feel warm, although scientists insist that alcohol really lowers the body temperature. But they wouldn't care about science, they only care about what they feel, and what they feel is the warm, slightly dizzy and happy feeling in their stomachs. They say they don’t want to give up their freedom: “we’d rather die, but proud and free!” – loudly announced the few.

The whole hearted faith in the power of vodka inspired the Russian zoo keepers to keep their freezing Indian elephants warm with buckets of vodka. Via drinking, of course. There were no further reports about the animals. Nor the zoo keepers.


January 15, 2006

Exercise!

A perfect way of exercising your arms and shoulders is by imagining you are the conductor standing in front of the national orchestra and conducting thru Beethoven’s 9th Symphony while seated at your desk. It'd left me excited, enlightened and much exhausted.

January 04, 2006

The Dream of Two Swarthy Ladies

The Dream of Two Swarthy Ladies

Two ladies are sleeping,
Although, no
No they are not,
Although, no
Of course they are,
Sleeping and seeing a dream

How Ivan walked into the door,
And following Ivan was the house manager
Carrying a volume of Tolstoy’s book
“War and Peace”, the second part…

Although no, not at all
Tolstoy walked in and took his coat off,
Off he took his galosh and boots,
‘Help me, Van’ya!’ – shouted he
So Van’ya grabbed an axe
And bam he hit Tolstoy on the head
Tolstoy fell. What a shame!
And all the Russian literature now rests in the chamber pot

Original

*Сон двух черномазых дам*

Две дамы спят, а впрочем нет,
не спят они, а впрочем нет,
конечно спят и видят сон,
как будто в дверь вошел Иван,
а за Иваном управдом,
держа в руках Толстого том

«Война и мир», вторая часть…
А впрочем нет, совсем не то,
вошёл Толстой и снял пальто,
калоши снял и сапоги
и крикнул: Ванька, помоги!
Тогда Иван схватил топор
и трах Толстого по башке.
Толстой упал. Какой позор!
И вся литература русская в ночном горшке.

19 августа 1936

About the author: link


January 02, 2006

Daniil Kharms

Falling out grannies

A granny, overcome by her curiosity
Fell out of the window
Crashed on the ground and died.

From the window out stuck her head
Another granny,
Looking down for the crashed one.
But overcome by her curiosity
She too fell out, crashed and died.

Then there was the third, the fourth and the fifth granny.
After the sixth has fallen out
I got bored of looking at them.

Instead I went to the Maltsevskii market
Where, they say, someone gave a knitted shawl to a blind man

<02.01.2006>

Original:

Вываливающиеся старухи

Одна старуха от чрезмерного любопытства
вывалилась из окна, упала и разбилась.
Из окна высунулась другая старуха и ста-
ла смотреть вниз на разбившуюся, но от чрез-
мерного любопытства тоже вывалилась из окна,
упала и разбилась.
Потом из окна вывалилась третья старуха,
потом четвертая, потом пятая.
Когда вывалилась шестая старуха, мне на-
доело смотреть на них, и я пошел на Мальцев-
ский рынок, где, говорят, одному слепому по-
дарили вязаную шаль.

<1936-1937>


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