Customer Reviews


24 Reviews
5 star:
 (19)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the mechanisms of fear
Everyone feels fear. It is inherent to the human condition.

For some, fear is a stimulant driving them to extraordinary feats. For others, fear is paralyzing.

Humankind has struggled with fear since the dawn of time, trying to overcome or at least control it. Fear has been the subject of philosophers, priests, aristocrats, generals and...
Published on March 15, 2010 by Jerry Saperstein

versus
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but somehow oversimplified
This book does an excellent job of describing the brain mechanisms involved in extreme fear, provides numerous anecdotes about occasions on which someone experienced it, and provides a good deal of military lore and experimental evidence about how fear works and what it does and how it can be limited. But I find myself wondering whether it will offer insight or assistance...
Published on December 7, 2010 by Victor A. Vyssotsky


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but somehow oversimplified, December 7, 2010
This book does an excellent job of describing the brain mechanisms involved in extreme fear, provides numerous anecdotes about occasions on which someone experienced it, and provides a good deal of military lore and experimental evidence about how fear works and what it does and how it can be limited. But I find myself wondering whether it will offer insight or assistance to anyone who may be suddenly confronted with a fear-inducing situation.

There are more variations in human reaction to extreme fear than the author acknowledges. Although I'm not an expert on the topic, I have experienced extreme fear on a few occasions, and have watched others experience it on many more occasions. My personal belief is that aside from the most basic brain-body mechanisms, well described in this book, a person's reaction to an obviously life-threatening situation (or one that seems life-threatening) is largely determined by the whole accumulation of experiences and situations to which the person has been exposed from childhood on. If this is so, it's more than a little difficult to reshape an individual's reactions to such situations, although quite possible to reshape reactions to such specific fears as fear of combat. I have known people who seemed almost immune to fear (although of course they really weren't) and I have known others who yield to fear so readily that one cannot count on them to perform in any dangerous situation. For example, when somebody quite unexpectedly receives a serious electrical shock (1000 to a few thousand volts at high amperage), which I have seen happen perhaps a dozen times, their reactions vary dramatically, from near-complete psychological collapse at one extreme to a few minutes of shaking and cursing, followed by acceptance of treatment and/or return to work. Similarly, I have known people who seem unable to adjust to the unexpected sound of a bullet going close past them, and others who don't even bother to duck when that happens. My belief is that these differences are largely due to a whole lifetime's habituation to hazardous situations, or lack of habituation to them. This does not in any way contradict the author's theses, but it considerably complicates the question of how one can reduce the negative effects many people experience.

Having led small military units and much larger civilian organizations, I have had to develop the leadership skills of keeping people moving forward toward a common objective when they are uncertain, confused, afraid. But for certain people nothing one tries seems to work. This is no criticism of them as people, just a limitation that has to be recognized. And indeed, nobody can cope with a level of fear higher than somewhat for longer than somewhat; even the best-adapted person will break at some point, as the Army has come to recognize. So, when someone would come to me and say, "I can't work for you any longer; it's too stressful for me", I would always say "OK, I understand, I'll get you transferred to a suitable assignment that will be a more pleasant one for you."

Incidentally, although the author correctly notes that fear produces a specific change in human pheromones, he doesn't remark (and perhaps is unaware) that we humans can consciously recognize the smell of fear if we have been exposed to it a few times. I have noticed this most strikingly on the three occasions when I was aboard aircraft that seemed somewhat likely to crash. I could tell by the scent of the people around me who was terrified out of control and who was worried but still in complete control of themselves. This smell of fear is very distinctive, unlike any other smell I know.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the mechanisms of fear, March 15, 2010
Everyone feels fear. It is inherent to the human condition.

For some, fear is a stimulant driving them to extraordinary feats. For others, fear is paralyzing.

Humankind has struggled with fear since the dawn of time, trying to overcome or at least control it. Fear has been the subject of philosophers, priests, aristocrats, generals and psychologists, all trying to understand it. And now scientists have entered the picture and fear is giving up its secrets.

In this fascinating and engrossing book, fear gets the pop-science treatment from Jeff Wise, who brings a varied background as "science writer, outdoor adventurer and pilot of airplanes and gliders" to the task. Actually, his accomplishments seem pretty thin for the task, but he is no less qualified than other pop-science writers like Malcolm Gladwell.

In fact, Wise does, in my opinion, a better job than Gladwell.

He successfully merges contemporary scientific investigations into the nature of fear with medial analysis and real life stories of people both trapped and motivated by fear. Wise writes well and he has structured his book to be fast-moving, even though it is packed with information including more than a few scientific terms the reader is likely to be unfamiliar with. His examples are particularly well chosen to illustrate his points. For example, he describes scuba diving in underwater caves and how divers are faced with situations where fear and panic appear to be = and in fact are - the only "rational" responses, such as being lost and alone in an underwater cave.

I have a small criticism of the book which I suspect may owe more to Wise's editor than to Wise himself: the politically correct use of pronouns (referring to a person as "her" when the subject was clearly male) and referring to the Wehrmach as "Nazis", an inaccurate euphemism intended to spare German sensitivities about their WWII role. Small nits to be picking, but irritating to this reader.

Wise not only explores the nature of extreme fear and how it has developed in our species, but also looks at ways in which humans can attempt to deal with it.

Fascinating stuff and a very worthwhile, enjoyable and informative read.

Jerry
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth overcoming my fear of spending more money at Amazon!, January 21, 2010
By 
Eric A. Morris (Sherman Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I truly enjoyed this book. The pages flew by and I got through it very quickly, a testament to the literacy and skill of the author. Wise has taken on an interesting subject and explicated it clearly, convincingly, and in an entertaining way. The anecdotes (many scrapes with death) were often thrilling. The portions on physiology and psychology, particularly those on brain chemistry, could have been a bore in the hands of a lesser writer, but the author presents them in an easy-to-understand and lucid way. The section on stage fright was worth the price of the book for me; I'm a former professional actor and champion public speaker who now gets a case of nerves speaking in front of others. It was fascinating to know how and why this happens, and that I'm not alone (Laurence Olivier suddenly got terrible stage fright in the middle of his career!) Finally, the author had some suggestions for overcoming fear which may be of value to you. In all, this was a compelling read, both entertaining and informative.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome start, but when will the second book be released?, April 23, 2012
By 
Lu Phillips (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger (Macsci) (Paperback)
Simply one of the best written books I've come across in a long time. The author's ability to take you to a first-hand experience across a variety of dramatic events is thrilling. Even better, he ties these anecdotes cleanly to the science that underpins the core distinctions of humans in fear. The result is like a good mnemonic where the science is easy to recall because the story it represents makes sense. For example, story: a Russian Physician escapes certain death by operating on himself; result: the force of human will power involving control of the reflexive system to override the self-preservation instinct of our reflective system.

Where this work tries to take us in the last 3 chapters failed to satiate my interest: application. The lessons are glazed over and could themselves be a sequel to this book that I would eagerly read and apply. Further, it left open some questions like to what extent do we fear for our physical lives compared to made-up circumstances like failure to perform. Most people are more likely to have a debilitating Laurence Olivier-style case of the nerves than be tested to land a commercial jet liner on the Hudson River without a single fatality.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Heart in the Throat Reading!, December 9, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We all think we know how we'll react in a fearful situation, but as Jeff Wise so brilliantly explains in this book, thinking has very little to do with our actions. Wise makes the science of fear fascinating, and he writes about it here in a gripping, fun and engaging way for all readers. I was drawn into the book by the compelling anecdotes the author relates, and enterprising information on the brain he provides. Now I'm even a little scared of how my mind works... But EXTREME FEAR is a thrilling read, and something anyone who's ever been in a frightening situation will be able to relate to.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!, November 14, 2010
By 
Brian (Brookfield, WI, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this book on a flyer, I was not disappointed. I have been very interested in cognitive research and in particular how humans deal with extreme situations. If you are interested in this topic this is a book for you.

Simply, this is an excellent book!

Much of the brain science material presented in this book has been covered in other places, but usually dealing with a much broader range of situations. The problem with the lack of focus of these other books is it does not bring heightened awareness to how we will react in an extreme situation. The biggest thing that this book will point out to you is how we underestimate the cognitive impairment of how stress and fear will effect us. Just like the respiratory doctor who smokes but treats lung cancer patients on a regular basis not thinking he is likely to get cancer, we also seem to think that we will fair with these extreme situations better than the average individual.

This book clearly illustrates through its stories that without proper preparation we will not do that well in these extreme situations. Some of us will Besides providing an excellent wake up call it gives very solid advice on how to fare better than the average individual in these types of situations.

My compliments to the author and publisher for having text-to-speech enabled on the Kindle version which clearly made my experience with this book greatly enhanced by the capabilities of the Kindle to switch from traditional reading to audio book on-the-fly.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to relate and learn how to cope with extreme situations that we may find ourselves in once or twice in an entire lifetime. But how we deal with these extreme situations will make all the difference.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, May 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger (Macsci) (Paperback)
I work in a job where stress and fear can come on very quickly at times. For a long time I've been interested in the physiological reaction of the body to stress. I heard Jeff Wise interviewed on a radio program one evening and decided to buy the book. I wasn't disappointed; I found a wealth of information about how the body handles not only sudden stress, but long term stress as well. Beyond that, Wise gives information about how to overcome some of those natural reactions so that a you can become more effective under stress. I highly recommend this book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good primer on fear for the layman, April 6, 2013
This is a good primer for explaining the scientific aspects of fear (albeit written by a journalist and not a scientist), written in a way that is accessible to the layman. Such books are surprisingly rare on Amazon. If you're tired of insipid self-help books, but find academic literature too daunting, then this book is for you. It covers two major categories of fear: panic induced by sudden life-threatening danger (like being attacked by a lion) and social anxiety (stage fright, choking, etc.).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, May 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Amazon was a helpful tool for me to buy books from abroad and this book was extremely useful in my life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Enjoyment, April 6, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Easy to read and interesting too! This is a topic not often written about for the general public to understand. And this time it works.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger (Macsci)
Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger (Macsci) by Jeff Wise (Paperback - February 1, 2011)
$16.00 $12.94
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.