Conquering Fear

You guys know me…I try to give something different than my usual on the weekends…..and today will be No different….

Fear…that is the subject…..

It appears that scientist may have found a way to eliminate fear from us mere mortals……

Why confront your fear in the hopes of overcoming it when scientists could just erase it from your brain? That’s exactly what researchers say they may be able to do in a study published Monday in Nature Human Behavior. Currently, most treatments for phobias and PTSD involve drugs, which can have side effects, or aversion therapy, which requires patients to be exposed to their fears, according to a press release. But the researchers behind the study say their technique—decoded neurofeedback, or DecNef—can “remove specific fears from the brain” using brain scanning technology and artificial intelligence.

Researchers created a fear memory in volunteers by shocking them when they saw a certain color, the Guardian reports. The brain pattern created by that new fear would occasionally reappear subconsciously, without the volunteer being afraid or thinking about it. When that happened, researchers gave the volunteer a reward. Eventually, the fear memory was overwritten. Researchers believe they can substantially reduce phobias and PTSD if they can figure out the brain patterns associated with common fears, such as spiders. Researcher Mitsuo Kawato hopes to start “systematic DecNef therapy” within a few years.

I am for anything that may assist in the treatment of PTSD….God knows that it can be debilitating…..but this has me worried.

This is one of those researches that I can foresee being abused by some…..Making soldiers reckless and unafraid…..not a way to fight a war….fear makes us mortals do crazy things but it also makes us look at situations and make better decisions.

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14 thoughts on “Conquering Fear

  1. I have been trying to get people’s attention on exactly this for years now. Not even the political parties have jumped on this idea nor has it been any part one bit of any election campaign. The country needs to start a serious exploration into the clinical research of the brain as the only way to address mental health. Some nutcase kills a bunch of people or kids somewhere.. everyone screams we need to do something about mental health.. but it’s an extraordinarilly complex issue and we are simply just not there yet to discuss it. The research you have just cited is a typical example. Tampering with the brain to modify behavior, while likely very possible scientifically and likely over time a very successful and predictable therapy as science progresses, smacks right in there on individual freedom… and the fear of abuse. I mean, this argument will make all the issues, moral and legal, regarding stem cell research seem like a minor issue by comparison.

    Here’s just a couple ramifications. Let’s assume we take that mass killer (if he/she is still alive, of course) and we somehow clinically remove from the brain the violent tendencies and the memories, and he becomes a fully acceptable human being in society. Sounds good on the surface. But in effect you have taken away a piece of the criminal’s personal identity. Add to that… he’s walking down the street one day and meets up with a loved one of one of his victims. He has no idea what he has done and the personal trauma for the survivor escalates. Do we now brain-zap the friends and family of victims of crimes in order to make them deal with the trauma of their loss as well? In fact, is there some level of brain-zapping we can do (and by brain-zapping I am including any intervention of the brain, be it surgery or drugs or laser beams) to modify behavior without changing a person’s personality? If so, who makes those decisions? Who sets the limits? Who defines the parameters… laws or religion or both?

    My description above is just a simple tip of the iceberg on the complexities, legal and moral, regarding brain manipulation to modify behavior. But as we know about all human science exploration, it will be done. You can’t contain human discovery. You might try to control it’s use with laws… but the social will must exist first and the technology to enforce it must exist, and to do that might mean a surrender of some of our accepted freedoms.

    My personal thought at the outset is that we need to completely map the brain down to the finite nerve cell. Hell, we’ve done that for our DNA. We’ve found the damn gene that determines if we have a uni-brow or not, for gawds sake. Certainly we can scope out the brain. But it will take time and technology… and ultimately be done in phases. Maybe we need one of those massive presidential commissions.. maybe take a full 12 months… to determine where we are in mapping the brain, how we might detect mental issues before they explode (that in itself, even if it’s simple, can very easily be an issue of restricting personal freedom), the technological and moral issues.

    But here’s the bottom line… mental health… the brain… is the final frontier.

    1. Thanx for the great comment….I agree that more research is needed….I just am concerned with the pursuit of profit may cloud the research….chuq

      1. I sense you have some socialist tendencies but profit is not a bad word. To be sure some things in this world have occurred that were not so good because of some over zealous pursuit of profit. But profit IS a motivator when investors are paying the bill. It’s the PURSUIT of profit that you likely have issues with, but after all that’s the nature of a free market.

      2. Yes I do….you are right profit is a motivator…but at what price….the closest thing to a free market these days is the drug trade….

  2. I was going to put a “LOL” first, to indicate my ironic laughter. But, you’re correct in thinking it isn’t really funny, at least, not in a ‘ha ha’ way. Fear is one of the most important tools we have, in a survival sense, for the reasons you gave, and more. But, our most basic fears are rooted in instinct, as being something we experienced in cave/tree dwelling times that required us to be alert for in the environment. But, it (fear) is, as most of our nature, misunderstood by most; it’s not a liability; it’s a tool, and an asset, as long as we learn how it works, and how to turn it off ourselves. That, of course, is done most efficiently by simply learning about the subject/object of our fear; understanding brings knowledge, and knowledge reduces, and eventually controls fear.

    But, most folks never learn to deal with it, so, they leave themselves open to manipulation by those who promise to remove their discomfort with pills, or neuro-scientific methods of mental stimulation/control. It’s much easier to just learn how to deal with the fear within our own minds. After all, it’s our mind; it knows how to control itself. One only needs to listen, and learn….

    Yes, I have PTSD, too; I’ve learned to use natural substances, which are already a part of my body’s defensive array, to deal with the physical aspects of pain (fear’s natural companion), naturally; the mental effects take a bit longer to work out….because they’re learned behaviors, too.. and must be unlearned..

    gigoid…

      1. The last comment needed this addition:

        Just because something CAN be done, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done. The ends do not always, or even very often, justify the means used to reach them.

        gigoid

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