Last night, I saw "The Hidden Face of Fear", a fascinating documentary on the social mechanisms of fear in the context of 9/11.
Here is some food for thought (according to neuro-biologists at New York University's Center for the Neuroscience of Fear and Anxiety) :
- Fear is contagious and spread like a disease both in society and in our bodies.
- Post traumatic disorder (PTD) can develop even if you haven't directly witnessed or been part of a traumatic event.
- The way an individual copes with fear depends on their previous experience with it. A (forgotten) trauma from childhood can be reactivated when another trauma occurs. In other words, we are not equal when it comes to fear, and we often don't even know it.
- Our brains can learn fear from watching other people being hurt.
- Fear spread from Gound Zero to the whole world through images and events on television.
- We can learn to be fearful of something not only from what we experience but also from words and symbolic communication. Most of the time, we learn it because of what our parents taught us or because we saw a friend getting hurt.
- Brain imaging shows that traumatic events or repeated strong emotions can change the anatomy of the brain. (by adding new synaptic connections)
- But there's hope : psychotherapy can also change the physical mapping of the brains. So this means that words can actually change how the brain works.