Fear Book Summary By Joanna Bourke

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Fear (2005) by author and historian, David Weedmark, is a comprehensive look at how fear has shaped our lives over the centuries.

This book dives into how fear has caused major impact on cities, parenting, and culture, examining everything from war and sickness to public buildings and the response to nuclear power.

With this kind of in-depth analysis of how fear works today and its history, readers are provided with invaluable insights they won't find anywhere else.

The book description promises an enlightening exploration into fear that will leave you with plenty of food for thought.

Fear Book

Book Name: Fear (A Cultural History)

Author(s): Joanna Bourke

Rating: 3.8/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Joanna Bourke is an accomplished writer and professor of history at the University of London.

She specializes in a variety of topics, such as the history of warfare, gender and class relations.

In addition to Fear: A Cultural History, which was recently published, her other works include Wounding the World and Working Class Cultures in Britain.

Her vast knowledge combined with her academic credentials make Professor Joanna Bourke a renowned scholar in the field of social history.

How Fear Has Changed Throughout History: Understanding Our Collective And Individual Fears

Individual Fears

There is a long and fascinating history of being afraid.

Fear has been ingrained in us ever since we were first able to comprehend it, and it shows no signs of slowing down – every generation passes on fearful experiences to the next.

But while our fears remain largely the same, societies have changed a lot over time.

That has meant that what we fear today is vastly different from what people feared hundreds of years ago – be it witches or nuclear war.

In this book, you’ll take an in-depth look into how fear has changed throughout history.

From the mass panic that affects the design of concert halls to why scaring soldiers can sometimes make them braver; there’s plenty for you to explore and learn about about.

And of course, discover which one fear has stayed constant across history.

The Fear Of Death Intensified In The 19Th Century With The Exploitation Of Paupers And The Grim Realities Of Bodysnatching

Death is our greatest human fear – one that has been around for thousands of years and has only been made worse by poverty.

For the lower classes, who no longer have the comfort of rituals, ceremonies and beliefs to celebrate death, this fear is further compounded by their inability to properly bury their deceased loved ones as well as the threat of bodysnatchers stealing their corpses to sell.

For these people, even hearing about financial aid being cut off can be so frightening that it causes them physical harm.

This was especially true in 19th century Western countries where mass graves were filled with paupers covered in quicklime — their bodies not even afforded a simple tombstone inscription to commemorate the dead.

As we have seen, fear of dying has existed since ancient times but only worsens when poverty strikes.

This tragedy puts a greater strain on already vulnerable people and highlights how much worse life must be faced when poverty is a factor.

The Tragic Events Of The Past Show Why Modern Buildings Are Design For Mass Evacuation In Emergency Situations

It was only after experiencing a number of tragedies that we realized the danger of mass panic in crowded spaces.

This is what led to the development of new design innovations, such as emergency exits on both sides of the aisles, wider stairwells and doorways, and Carl Prinzler’s invention of doors with panic relief bars.

All these improvements were developed to help ensure safer evacuation situations in case of emergency.

By learning more about the human tendency to panic in momentsof fear, this has shaped modern public architecture and engineering today.

This has allowed us to create environments that are safe and secure while also allowing quick access in case an emergency situation arises.

We can see evidence of this in cinemas, theaters, shopping centres and other public venues – all designed with safety at its core.

The Changing Narrative Around Fearful Children: Moms Blamed No Matter What

Fearful Children

Society has traditionally frowned upon fearful children and often blamed the mother for the outcomes.

In the first half of the twentieth century, gentle and protective mothers were looked down on if their child displayed signs of fear or shyness, especially in young boys.

It was thought that this could lead them to become weak or even socially isolated.

Psychologist Adelaide Chazan went as far as to say that such behaviour demonstrated a psychological illness caused by “laxity, dependency, protectiveness and instability” from the mother.

However, when more women began working outside of home in the 1950s, educators started to recognize the value of maternal protection and worried about what might happen when a child was left alone.

Thus, new parenting guides advised mothers to stay with their children for at least five years.

Uncovering The Hidden Meaning Of Nightmares: Freud’S Interpretation Of Dreams

For centuries, people thought that the nightmares they experienced at night were due to physical discomfort.

They believed these terrifying dreams were caused by demons, and tried all sorts of methods to prevent them from occurring, such as avoiding eating before sleeping, or sleeping with their windows closed.

It wasn’t until Sigmund Freud developed a new interpretation of dreams that things changed.

He argued that monstrous nightmares were actually the result of mental processes and hidden desires – when we dream, we let our guard down, allowing thoughts that would usually remain suppressed to come out in unexpected ways.

Freud also stated that certain aspects of dreams can be symbolic to activities carried out in real life – such as running into a house or up a staircase being an allegory for sexual intercourse.

Through analyzing his patients’ dreams, he sought to uncover underlying emotions so they could accept those parts of themselves.

So instead of helplessly blaming lack of blood flow to the brain for the terrors of night-time dreaming, we now recognize that our own psyche can unleash fears far scarier than any demon ever could.

The Intersection Of Insecurity And Panic: How Unstable Times Amplify Fearful Reactions

Unstable societies are breeding grounds for fear and panic.

History shows us this to be true, with people becoming increasingly on edge during times of instability or economic hardship.

Take Great Britain in the 1920s as an example, with 1.5 million unemployed people and miners striking against low wages and appalling working conditions.

The looming threat of revolution created insecurity among the privileged classes and a perfect environment for pandemic fear.

This was showcased perfectly in a satirical BBC radio broadcast in 1926 that appeared to be a normal news broadcast interrupted by live reports of protests by a working class mob in London, albeit filled with wild details such as the leader being named as the chairman of the Committee for Abolishment of Theatre Queues, with still surprisingly enough listeners panicking out at these outlandish events having been described.

This illustrates that during times of heightened insecurity, even exaggerated accounts can prove fuel for fear-mongering if some detail aligns with current reality.

Whether it be now or then, when societies become unstable, it takes very little to bring out mass hysteria fueled by anxiety and worry of those affected by their environment and feeling powerless against rising tide of restlessness present

Fear Fuels Heroism: How Brave Soldiers Overcome Fear In Combat

Brave Soldiers

Fear is a primary emotion experienced by soldiers in combat.

In 1947, a medical study of two infantry divisions involved in World War II showed that only 7 percent of men were able to state that they didn’t feel afraid during battle.

The other 90 percent admitted to experiencing physical symptoms such as trembling limbs and sweating palms, as well as problems with their digestive systems due to their traumatic experiences.

At the same time, fear can also be a force behind incredible feats on the battlefield, providing an adrenaline rush that can lead soldiers to reckless yet heroic actions.

This was demonstrated by American soldier William Manchester who, despite trembling and being unable to focus his eyes due to intense fear, managed to take down a Japanese sniper in 1944.

After completing this feat he threw up and wet himself due to the sheer intensity of his emotions.

Thus it is evident that intense fear during combat leads not just to long-term illnesses but also courage-boosting adrenaline rushes which are often necessary for brave acts of heroism on the battlefield.

Fearful Populations In The West During The Cold War: How Government Drills Increased Fear And Anxiety Among Civilians

Nuclear war was a real and terrifying threat to nations throughout the 20th century.

During the Cold War, strategic moves by world powers were more threatening than ever before.

This led to heightened fear among populations on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

The successful launch of Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957, followed five years later by the installation of missiles in Cuba by Soviet President Khrushchev just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, led to panic on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the 1980s, when US President Ronald Reagan began developing a space-based nuclear weaponry system, tensions among existing nuclear powers escalated and popular fear reached unprecedented levels.

The 1983 survey conducted by TV Times in the UK revealed that 75 percent of respondents believed a nuclear war was imminent.

How Facing Death Head-On Gave One Woman The Courage To Live

Facing Death

Fear is ever-changing, as medicine continues to evolve.

In the 19th century, it wasn’t cancer that scared people the most – infectious diseases such as smallpox and consumption were much bigger concerns.

That was highlighted by a 1896 survey in the American Journal of Psychology, where just five percent of respondents listed cancer as an illness they feared.

However, that changed in the 20th century and chronic illnesses began taking precedence over infectious ones.

This was revealed by a 1954 public survey conducted in Manchester that showed that 70% of women feared cancer more than any other disease.

This fear was seen in Edna Kaehele’s story from Denver, Colorado who was diagnosed with cancer and told she had six months to live in 1946.

She refused to give into fear though and instead adopted a protein-based diet which allowed her to live for another 12 years until she published her book ‘Sealed Orders’.

Wrap Up

Fear is an emotion that plays a role in everyday life and its effects can be seen in countless aspects of our world.

This book provides a snapshot of the many ways we struggle to cope with this universal emotion.

Fear affects public architecture, parenting, nuclear war and even cancer.

The key takeaway from this book is that fear has been an influential part of the human experience since the 19th century and it’s up to us to face our fear head on.

We must remain aware of how fear influences us so we can make informed decisions about our lives and strive for balance between living with fear and feeling secure.

With understanding and self-reflection, we can use fear as a tool for growth rather than let it impede progress.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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