A raving lunatic with the potential to be perfectly normal.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Politics of Fear

It's been a while since seven powerful bombs shook the economic epicenter of India. Mumbai, of course, being Mumbai, has moved on and while certain sections of the media carry on with their usual job of milking a story till its titties completely dry up and are reduced to shrivelled bags of T.B, not too many people have analysed the psyche behind the terror attacks. So, has fear , completely, been erased from our daily lives?

Very often, the thought pattern governing an activity is far more powerful than the actual activity or the perpetrator, essentially coz the activity exists as a thought in its nascent state. The Human brain is an amazing organ. It acts to sense, process, perceive, store (create memories) and act on information from the internal and external environment to promote survival. In order to carry out these functions, the human brain has evolved a hierarchical organization and this organization has its own politics.

The essential objective of the Human Brain is to promote survival and procreation.Therefore, the brain is ‘over-determined’ to sense, process, store, perceive and mobilize in response to threatening information from the external and internal environments. All areas of the brain and body are recruited and orchestrated for optimal survival tasks during the threat. Cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral and physiological remains of a trauma could impact an individual for years – even a lifetime. Most "Terrorist" outfits work with the operative objective of injecting this pollutant called fear into our veins in a bid to cripple us. "Terrorism" is a counter religion in itself and it promotes the ideology of fear, if you can call fear an ideology, that is.

While the influential and the famous hold their fancy dinner table conversations on how Terrorists could be dealt with, the real threat, fear, works in stealth, striking one area after another in a manner pretty similar to the modus-operandi of Drug cartels. It spreads at such a rapid pace that even before one can bat an eyelid, it has struck a million people. Unfortunately, while anti-terrorist policies are framed, there is hardly any rehabilitation available for the victim, very often left to suffer alone, in silence.

In order for any experience to become a part of memory, it has to be sensed, experienced by the individual. This experince is then transformed into patterned activity of sensory neurons. The first stop of this sensory input is to the lower, more regulatory parts of the brain. This is also known as the primitive brain and is incapable of rational interpretation. The rational 'interpretation' of the sensory input takes place at the higher, more developed parts of the brain. However, in many instances, the brain’s response to incoming sensory information will take place well before the signals can get to the higher, cortical parts of the brain where they are 'interpreted'. Because the neuronal systems alter themselves in a ‘use-dependent’ way, a state of terror will result in set of ‘memories.’ Memories of Trauma!

In order for the brain to react to immediate sensory inputs the more primitive portions of the brain must ‘store’ previous patterns of sensory neuronal input which are associated with threat – memories of previous patterns of sensory input which were connected with a bad experience – the combat veteran will have an automatic response to the sound of a firecracker. The classic ‘response’ to the threatening cues involves a "fight or flight" reaction(e.g., profuse sweating, increased heart beat, rapid respiration). However, this means that since these memory states are stored in the more primitive parts of the brain which are incapable of rationalizing, they will be also be prone to react to false signals. Thus, the remarkable capacity of the brain to take a specific event and generalize, particularly with regard to threatening stimuli, makes humans vulnerable to the development of ‘false’ associations and false generalizations from a specific traumatic event to other non-threatening situations. Since it takes time for a signal to travel from the lower parts of the brain to the higher parts for interpretation, very often specific sensory cues which matched against a ‘catalogue’ of previous experiences, could set a false alarm of fear. However, since the brain does not know this yet, the same "fight or flight" reactions are triggered.

Over time, a thought-recalling the trauma may lead to the following:
  1. Emotional change.
  2. Constant state of anxiety
  3. Depression
  4. Hyper-reactivity, daydreaming ( due to sensitization of the opiod systems in the brain)
  5. Dissociation.

Since, most people are unaware of these changes, they become helpless victims of a far superior dark power. In a way it leads to their Gollum(isation). The fear, unattended for a long time, becomes a nasty scar and changes into hatred. This is when the victim develops the "every one must suffer" mentality thus falling prey to the same dark power which crippled him/her. So, even though the military forces might foil a few terrrorists plots, they would not be able to stop the Politics of Fear. When we consider socio-economic factors like lack of employment, lack of education, economic discrimination, social dicrimination, the situation starts looking really scary . So, if you have 20 victims in a socially and economically backward area, very soon it will be 200 , out of which 20 might cross over to the other side. So, in a way the terrorists have won.

Fear can never kill fear. So,is there a cure. The important thing is that the energy center for love, fear and hatred is the same. The only way out of this potential chaos is to convert the fear or hatred into love. No, love does not kill your brain cells.We have to spread the culture of love and create an atmosphere where every moment of existence is celebrated. Art has to be liberated from elitist confines and made available to all, for Art is the language of the soul. In fact a rehab for victims of trauma is very desirable. At another level, more job opportunities need to created in social and economical backward areas, which is , well, a difficult task. Yet, it needs to be done else we are headed towards chaos. However, when one sees members of the parliament hurling abuses at each other, one is left wondering. Hmmm!

For many "Love is GOD" is just a positive statement. Yet, people who have travelled deeper into themselves have realized Love and understood that it is our very nature.Love is the only thing that can heal this cancer.

(With due apologies tothe Beatles)

All we need is love

and in the end the love that we take is equal to the love that we make.

Peace out.