“Fear Equals Thinking Plus Time”

I recently listened to episode two of NPR’s new podcast Invisibilia. On the episode, hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel discuss the rare case of a fearless woman; literally, a woman who can’t feel any fears and the consequences of her condition.

The episode challenges the listener to imagine how, by suppressing fear and our actions around it, our everyday activities could be transformed, but not always for the better. In the case of the fearless woman, her inability to feel fear makes her much more open and friendly than most people, but there’s been cases of others taking advantage of this “innocence”; she’s been victim of numerous crimes that could have be avoided if her response to specific events on the streets were triggered by fear. She does not perceive the danger of certain situations as most people do.

The second half of the episode suggests that there could be methods to “turn off” fear. They introduce one method that is looking to get rejected by somebody else at least once every day. This makes the person open up to unexpected scenarios, interactions with other people that look to improve the subject’s social skills and slowly reduce unnecessary, daily fears. I think it’s a great exercise.

At the end of this episode of Invisibilia, Lulu Miller puts into words what she calls the “fear formula” with great advice to overcome it:

“Fear equals thinking plus time. Take either of one of those things away: you cannot get fear.”

You can listen to the full episode of Invisibilia on the NPR website.