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Fear OFF-switch cont.

In FDH-OFF project on January 24, 2023 at 10:32 am

Update 3 on the Fear-Disgust-Hate project

Update 1 established that reading can, activate aspects of the fear-response.

Update 2 looked into possible ways of treating fear based on non-pharmaceutical therapy methods, and listed a first draft of standard-short-text responses.

Next: expand list of standard-short-text responses based on methods for everyday use outside of the therapy room.

There are a number of recommendations on countering fear, especially panic-attacks, from public health and patient centered sites.

I have used some of these sites used as templates for standard-short-text responses (examples on each side of the professionality scale are Scottish NSH and “Romper“).

These sites commonly recommend that when experiencing fear you should “identify/specify your fear”, “take a time out – breathe look around – relax” and then “reassess your fear in a more useful manner”. Not that different from the cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques mentioned in Update 2.

Based on techniques mentioned in these sites, I can improve on the first draft of Fear OFF-switches:

Second draft of Fear OFF-switches:

  1. It is ok to feel this way, but it’s impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear or anxiety. Take a deep breath or two, before continuing your discussion on this topic.
  2. You’re allowed to feel anxious, even if you don’t know the reason why, in reaction to [this subject]. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down. Look out a window, notice the color and texture in the world around you, and take those sensations in. Then consider your thoughts on [the subject] again.
  3. You sound worried. You’re not alone. Why not distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, making a cup of tea or having a bath. Then re-asses your statements.
  4. I noticed that you generalized [the subject] into [this]. Your fear is not silly, but is it possible to re-frame this generalization into [something more accurate]
  5. You put a lot of emphasis on [this minor detail]. It’s okay to feel this way, but is [this detail] really that important or could you imagine that other parts of the discussion may have more significance.
  6. Are you ok ? Is it possible that you are assuming the worst and that this is unlikely to happen
  7. It’s okay to feel scared. We all do. Is it possible for you to re-frame [given negative argument] into [a positive spin on argument].
  8. What’s wrong? It sometimes helps to challenge fearful thoughts. Ask yourself if you have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear.
  9. Is there anything I can do to help you right now?

Hopefully these standard-short-texts will continue to evolve into standard templates for comments that can be used anywhere in a discussion-thread, on any web-site or social media platform.

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OFF-switch #1 (Fear)

In FDH-OFF project on January 17, 2023 at 11:32 am

Update 2 on the Fear-Disgust-Hate project.

Update 1 established that reading something that contains a fear stimulus, activates aspects of the fear-response.

Next: Design written “OFF”-switches for reading-induced fear.

There are plenty information out there on how to counter a traditional fear response, both with and without, drugs. Obviously, in this setting we need to look at non-pharmaceutical intervention methods.

Since our aim is to counter the specific internal fear-response a given reader may get, my assumption is that typical therapy actions to counter fear in general, could be a starting point also for a written response to a written fear stimulus.

There are (at least) three well documented behavioral methods we can use as starting points (more in ref 1): 1) Cognitive-behavioral therapy, 2) Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapies and 3) Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy seems to be dependent on a one on one physical interaction and probably not very useful.

Mindfulness on the other hand may hold promise. Mindfulness uses therapy methods that makes you focus on bodily functions like your breathing, seeing or hearing, in a stress-reducing manner. Such therapy-inputs could also work in writing.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can either involve exposure to the fear-stimulus, which may be difficult to achieve in a written format, or using techniques to achieve some form of logical risk-assessment to counter problematic instinctive responses:

Cognitive therapy targets distorted thoughts using a number of techniques such as identifying inaccurate thinking, examining the evidence for and against automatic thoughts, challenging and changing maladaptive thoughts, altering problematic behaviors, and relating to other people in more adaptive ways. Psychoeducation about the tri-part model of emotion, the different forms of distorted thinking (eg, all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, disqualifying the positive, etc), and cognitive restructuring is an integral part of cognitive therapy.

(ref 2).

Possible cognitive therapy techniques include: 1) Restructuring or re-framing of: “over-generalizations”, “over-emphasis on minor details” or “assuming the worst”; 2) Thought processes to replace negative thoughts with positive alternatives; and 3) Stress reducing techniques like deep-breathing.

Cognitive therapy in a written format, therefore also seems like a promising template for designing an OFF-switch.

Based on the therapy techniques mentioned above, I’m making the first draft of some potential standard-short-text responses to a written statement containing a fear stimulus.

First draft of Fear OFF-switches:

  1. I recognize your sentiments here, and understand your instinctive reaction. Take a deep breath or two, before continuing your discussion on this topic.
  2. I see that you have a strong reaction to [this subject]. Have you considered just looking out the window for a couple of minutes. Notice the color and texture in the world around you, and take those sensations in. Then consider your thoughts on [the subject] again.
  3. I noticed that you generalized [the subject] into [this]. Is it possible to re-frame this generalization into [something more accurate]
  4. You put a lot of emphasis on [this minor detail]. Is [this detail] really that important or could you imagine that other parts of the discussion may have more significance.
  5. Is it possible that you are assuming the worst and that this is unlikely to happen
  6. Is it possible for you to re-frame [given negative argument] into [a positive spin on argument].

The idea being that these standard-short-texts can be used as stand-alone comments to a given text or anywhere in a discussion-thread, on any web-site or social media platform.

Fear switch background. Hypothesis 1 FDH-project

In FDH-OFF project on January 6, 2023 at 11:53 am

Update 1 on the Fear-Disgust-Hate project

Background “Fear”

Fear is one of the most is evolutionary conserved sensory input-responses across species (together with aggression, and disgust), which supports the underlying assumption that fear bypasses critical thinking.

Fear induces more effects than the fight/flight-response. There are effects of fear on nearly all aspects of cognition, ranging from attention to memory to judgment and decision-making (ref 1).

Most stimuli of which humans are afraid are probably learned socially (ref 2).

The stimuli does not have to be direct or physically present. From ref 1:

“Finally, it is worth emphasizing that humans stand out from other animals in having fear and anxiety triggered not by occurrent stimuli, but merely by thinking about such stimuli. The bulk of psychopathology arises from worrying about what could happen and what might be, often to the point of distorting what actually is. This aspect of fear induction in humans probably also contributes to the impression we have that fear depends very much on conscious experience.”

So, it seems likely that reading something that contains a fear stimulus, activates aspects of the fear-response. Looks like the search for some kind of a written “OFF”-switch for reading-induced fear is still viable.

Fear, Disgust and Hate

In FDH-OFF project on January 3, 2023 at 12:16 pm

New years resolution: Learn about possibilities to counter political narratives that use Fear-Disgust-Hate triggers.

My current understanding: Triggering fear and disgust is a successful communication strategy because normal critical responses (based on facts and logic) are bypassed. Adding hate to the mix provides a scape goat.

Hypothesis 1: The triggered response must have one or more, “OFF”-switches.

If so, describe these switches.

Hypothesis 2: Such switches can be used to balance out Fear-Disgust-Hate narratives

If so, create counter narratives

Methods:

1. Conventional literature search and writing.

2. ChatGPT or similar, to aid in search and writing.