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A Conversation With Fear

December, 2010

First published as
In the Yikes! Zone
Dutton/Penguin Putnam
February, 2002


from the jacket cover:

We all pack different ideas and feelings into the word fear: fear of the unknown, fear of not being able to work next week, fear of failure, of losing control, of aging, of falling down, of being carried up in a chairlift, fear of the body reacting and fear of the body not reacting, even the fear of saying the word fear. This book does not attempt to define fear or explain why a frightened person experiences certain physiological responses. It does not separate students into categories or classify symptoms. Others have done a good job at that.
        What this book does attempt is to offer you both audacity and comfort. Although comfort feels quiet, it arrives through a bold move: accepting the presence of fear. To do this, we must pick our way between two powerful tendencies, to control and to cure, the Scylla and Charybdis of our culture. These two impulses exert their influence constantly in words like
manage, handle, overcome, conquer, dispel, banish, fix…By regarding fear as a pathology to control or cure, we assume that life without its presence is possible, normal, or even desirable. But once we accept fear as a habitual acquaintance in an imaginative, meaningful life, we can begin to cultivate a conversation with it rather than engage it in a fight.


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