Are You Consumed by Fear?
Dr Vernon Coleman
Your ancestors lived in a world about which they understood very little. They should have been consumed by fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being eaten alive. Fear of starvation. Fear of death and illness.
We, by contrast, should lead relatively fear-free lives.
But all the evidence suggests that fear now plays a bigger part in our lives than it ever played in our ancestors’ lives.
Because our society needs us to be frightened.
Fear is a powerful driving force which helps to push us forwards. Fear encourages us to spend money, to accept progress and to treat those around us with contempt and disrespect. Fear helps to keep us weak but it helps to keep our society strong. Fear divides us and cripples us but gives our social structures strength. Today we are never allowed to forget our fears for an instant.
It is no accident that industries, advertising agencies, politicians, experts and television commentators all contribute to our daily ration of fear. There is nothing strange or inexplicable about the fact that one hardly ever sees or hears a pundit offering reassurance.
Fear is one of the most potent forces used to control us and to manipulate our emotions. It is fear which often leads us to change our habits – to the advantage of some part of our society. It is fear which justifies progress.
Take health, for example.
We are encouraged to worry about health in a million individual ways. Listen to the experts arguing about what is bad for you and you will soon feel twinges of fear nibbling at your increasingly tortured spirit.
Most of the time our fears are being manipulated by people – representing social structures – who want us to change our spending habits. We are told that we should eat less saturated fats and eat more products which contain unsaturated fats – by people who want to sell us unsaturated fats. If we don’t follow their recommendations we will, we are warned, fall ill and die. We are encouraged to have regular health checks by doctors who want to charge us fees for the service they will gladly provide. If we don’t do as they suggest then we will only have ourselves to blame if we die early. We are encouraged to distrust doctors by people who want to sell us herbal medicines. We are encouraged to use sugar substitutes by companies making sweeteners. We are advised to avoid using sweeteners by people selling sugar. We are told we must eat more bran by people selling bran rich products. We are told to exercise by companies selling exercise equipment. We are told that cycling is dangerous by people who want us to travel by motor car. We are told, by people with a vested interest in such matters, to put our faith in acupuncture, osteopathy, reflexology, aromatherapy or psychotherapy. We are advised to take regular vitamins, minerals or protein tablets by the people selling vitamins, minerals or protein tablets. We are told to eat more runner beans by the Runner Bean Marketing Board and more carrots by the Carrot Marketing Board.
Is it any wonder that we suffer from fear? Is it any wonder that hypochondriasis is commonplace? Is it any wonder that we suffer from toxic stress?
Fear is everywhere and is constantly used by people who want our support. Politicians make us frightened of street violence in order to encourage us to allow them (and the social structures for which they work) to have more power. We are warned about the rising tide of racism in our society and it is made clear that if we vote the ‘wrong’ way then we too will be regarded as racists and treated accordingly. Police chiefs recommend stronger policing – and more policemen. Prison chiefs campaign for bigger prisons – and more of them. Everyone campaigning for something warns us of the awful consequences if we disregard their warnings.
Politicians make us frightened of our enemies abroad (even if our enemies abroad are no real threat to us) because by making us frightened they give themselves more power.
And newspaper editors delight in terrifying us with a constant diet of new fears because they know that fear sells newspapers. (We want to know more about the things we should be worried about.)
Fear is a potent weapon these days because the availability of television and radio and the internet means that we can be frightened more speedily and more effectively than ever before.
Every representative of every social structure uses fear to manipulate us. Fear helps our society to sustain itself and to increase its power.
Taken from `Toxic Stress’ by Vernon Coleman
Vernon Coleman’s book `Toxic Stress’ is available as a paperback and an eBook.
Copyright Vernon Coleman October 2023