Dec 16, 2010

when fear is a virtue

The fascinating case of "SM," the woman who feels no fear:
She apparently hasn't felt fear as an adult, not even 15 years ago in an incident described by the researchers. A man jumped up from a park bench, pressed a knife to her throat and hissed, "I'm going to cut you."

SM, who heard a church choir practicing in the distance, looked coolly at him and replied, "If you're going to kill me, you're going to have to go through my God's angels first."

The man suddenly let her go. She didn't run home. She walked.

"Her lack of fear may have freaked the guy out," Feinstein said.

But it also got her into that situation in the first place, he noted. SM had willingly approached the man when he asked her to, even though it was late at night and she was alone, and even though she thought he looked "drugged out."

SM's actions are clearly irrational--because rationality is a pattern woven in the fabric of emotion. Or perhaps there's a more fitting analogy. Regardless, those who would try to isolate reason from the texture of emotions discount both.

Related: when a tumor makes you utilitarian.


Anonymous said...

here's a full paragraph on more of this story

Jim Anderson said...

Thanks. I find it fascinating that she continually approaches dangerous situations due to her overwhelming curiosity.

Anonymous said...

´the stranger` anyone?

Jim Anderson said...

Interesting connection, Anonymous. It also seems related to a condition described by Dr. Oliver Sacks in the vignette "Yes, Father-Sister," in which he describes a woman's "equalisation," an inability to emotionally respond to serious matters.