Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fear

Fear is something we all have, and we all learn to cope with in varying degrees. Fear can originate in direct experience, vicariously, and espeially through the media. Some of my earliest fears were caused by movies and television. While my mother famously protected me from "The Exorcist," I was able to access other just as terrifying images in the comfort of my own home. What is it that keeps us watching when we know we will have nightmares for weeks or years?

"The Night Stalker" TV movie and series was one of my favorites, but also completely anxiety provoking. Darrin McGavin was a cool detective tracking a vampirish evil monster. Couldn't stop watching...but carried a wooden cross throughout my teens.

One of my biggest fears growing up was that I would (accidentally) get thrown into juvenile prison. "Born Innocent" starring Linda Blair is where a 14 year old gets locked up in prison and some pretty disturbing things happen to her. According to Wikipedia, it contained "graphic content never before seen on American television."  Suffice it to say I was Scared Straight.

"Go Ask Alice" was another classic movie that exposed the underbelly of the drug culture of the early 70's. I was terrified that someone was going to slip LSD into my food or drink, and I would become instantly addicted and all a-shambles like the girl in the movie, sleeping in flop houses, never washing my hair, etc. This fear led me to give up my dream of becoming an Olympic figure skater in 2nd grade because I thought I saw a drug deal being made on the ice across the street from my house.

Then there was "Sybil" (anyone for breaking out into multiple personalities) and "Carrie" (horror at the thought of taking a shower at school). I am happy to report I have somehow put these fears to rest and am living a semi-normal life. Ironically, one of my main tasks as a therapist is helping others conquer their fears and demons. My advice? Adopt this well known slogan:

Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

And if that fails:

Fuck Everything And Run