Looking out over the cliffs edge everything falls away, revealing the world as seen only by those native to the sky. Green forest land and the clear blue of Lake Willoughby stretch out before me while green and grey pinnacles of other mountains frequently reach toward the sky. As I approach the ledge a queasy feeling begins to form in the pit of my stomach. The closer I get the more it grows until I feel as if I may vomit. As I look out and down, the ragged rock cliff looks near imminent and my imagination gets away from me. The feeling that someone is sneaking up behind me to push me into open air grows and grows until I can’t take it anymore. I pull back reflexively and take several steps away, my heart pounding and adrenaline pumping, priming me to run from the imagined danger I had created.
Though the feeling is different with every person, this is the fear reaction. I’m working to overcome my fear of falling but this is what it felt like several years ago whenever I would approach a cliff, or other similar location. Everyone has fears. It’s human nature. Now that I’m married my worst fears are that something will happen to my wife. Her being kidnapped is what scares me the most. Irrational? Well it’s possible, but where we live in Rexburg, ID I should be more worried about a car driving through the wall of our apartment and killing her as she sits on the couch. It’s more probable.
Jaimal Yogis is a human being like everyone else, hindered by fears both rational and irrational. In his book, The Fear Project, Yogis takes us on a journey through his life as he shares experiences of facing his fears. Accompanied by interviews with neuropsychologists, professional athletes, friends, and more he investigates the concept of fear in it’s entirety. He examines the range of populations effected from athletes and soldiers down to the everyday man and woman with daily struggles. The conclusion is that we all feel fear, but the feelings and connected consequences are not that different from one person to another.
I don’t know about everyone else but there are some fears that boarder on the absurd. For example: Arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof or your mouth), Sphenisciphobia (the fear of nuns), and Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words). That last one is a bit of an oxymoron and creates a fear of the fear of long words. That gets confusing. Before anyone gets offended, I’m not making fun of anyone. I myself am afraid of large birds when they get too close to me. I had a bad experience when I was younger, for anyone asking. The reason for my mentioning any of this is because when you take a moment to think about it we will inevitably face the same question: why does this frighten me?
For anyone who has had this question or taken the time to think about their fears, you probably have had at least a slight desire to overcome them. Fear feels like a limitation. Something that gets in our way and prevents us from doing what we want. Yogis isn’t writing this book just to inform us of what it is and how it works. He gives us a brief look at what can be done if you want to overcome these subconscious holds. And unlike some psychology books that I’ve read, he writes it like a journalist (which, coincidentally is his occupation) so he is trying to entertain his reader. I think he succeeded. So if you are a human being with fears ( in other words everyone) this is a book to learn a little about yourself. If you have no fears and are in fact an alien without an amygdala, than it will be a great book to use in studying our race and why we do such silly things on a regular basis. Either way, fear is an everyday emotion we all feel. The more we learn about why we have such feelings will diminish the negative effects. Think about it. The more you understand the less you fear. We’ve been shown the door to knowledge, but we have to get up and open it.