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Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  162 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Fear is a mysterious force. It sabotages our ability to think clearly and can drive us to blind panic, yet it can also give us superhuman speed, strength, and powers of perception. Having baffled mankind for ages, fear is now yielding its secrets to scientific inquiry. The simple model of "fight or flight"--that people respond to danger either by fleeing in terror or stayi ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 8th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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Dec 27, 2015 Von rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. A quick read but gives lots of user-friendly insight into the brain's processing and authoring of the fear response.
Bernie Gourley
Aug 20, 2015 Bernie Gourley rated it really liked it
Extreme Fear examines the science behind fear—particularly the fear of life and death situations. In doing so, the author presents findings from scientific research as well as cases that demonstrate the concepts behind those findings. People are often so close to their fears that they take them for granted, and feel that there’s nothing to be done about them. However, there’s a great deal to be learned about how fear operates and how one can improve one’s performance in fearful situations. By re ...more
Sahana Sudarshan
Jan 15, 2013 Sahana Sudarshan rated it really liked it
When I think non-fiction and science in the same sentence, I’m thinking at the least I’m going to take forever to finish this book. But Jeff Wise has managed to bring out the science in a captivating narrative style.
Extreme fear is a book about the science of the mind in danger. It talks about all the inner workings of the brain under stress, be it life threatening immediate situation or ongoing stress.
The book starts off by talking about stress that leads to superhuman abilities. Or in other ci
Loren Olson
Jan 08, 2011 Loren Olson rated it liked it
This book does a good job of explaining the neurophsiologic mechanisms of fear. Although the title suggest "extreme" fear and many of the examples are of people who have experienced extreme fear, it also discusses more "ordinary" fears, such as panic disorder, stage fright, test fright and even sexual performance anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy -- with or without medications -- proves to be the best treatment for different kinds of anxiety. This book can help axiety sufferers understand the
Sep 15, 2013 Scotchneat rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Wise dives into the many contradictions that our minds and bodies manifest when we have extreme fear - sometimes with live research.

We all know about fight or flight, but as per usual, the human brain is more screwed up than that - with a complex dance of several areas of the brain involved in what might happen in a given situation.

Wise brings some humour and a good dollop of "I'll try that" to the research (he writes the "I'll Try Anything" column for Popular Mechanics). For example, he dives o
Jun 22, 2010 K rated it really liked it
Great. Consistently entertaining. Clean measured prose. Mixes fascinating anecdotes with scientific explanations easily understandable to the layman. Discusses amazing feats people are capable of in spite of overwhelming fear (like performing their own appendectomies), and due to the superpowers that fear bestows (like lifting cars off bicyclists). Also, how fear can cripple your entire life (War hero Audie Murphy's severe social anxiety), if not kill you (man who accidentally flew his plane int ...more
Feb 03, 2010 Andres rated it it was amazing
With a healthy mix of riveting stories and insightful science, this is such a great book about fear. Examining fear from a physical, physiological, and psychological point of view, the author explains how fear comes about, how people react to it, how it can affect performance and memory, and how it can be used positively (or least how to keep it from making a negative---and potentially negative---impact).

I will reread this book when the nervous system is covered in my upcoming physiology class.
Dec 10, 2009 Cindy is currently reading it
I am enjoying this book - and I am in it!! Mr. Wise interviewed me for quite a while about my experiences with Panic and Anxiety. He did a great job of telling the story without making me appear foolish.

And, the other parts of the book are quite believable and, in many ways, very comforting. There is a lot of science about fear - and we don't have to just be afraid of it.

I'm almost finished... it is a good read!
Jun 24, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
* 8 Great Adventure Reads

Extreme Fear (MacSci), by Jeff Wise, is both a journalistic account of some brave encounters (a woman coming face-to-face with a cougar in a canyon, for example) and a smart scientific analysis of what happens in the brain when we experience fear—and how we can turn that fear into an advantage.
Sep 08, 2012 Chrysta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I liked becoming reacquainted with the importance of the amygdala, and new respect for the ventral striatum an locus ceruleus. The examples are the core reading of the book, which kept it entertaining. Broaching the subject of what to do about response to 't' stimuli was interesting, and also refleXive versus refleCtive response.
Dec 24, 2011 Sherri rated it really liked it
Gripping stories of accidents, animal attacks, and disasters that are punctuated by very readable explanations of what the brain and body are doing. The same "sandwhich" structure in each chapter gets a bit old, but it's easy to skim for the stories or the biopsychological explanations, as the reader desires. Fascinating insights into how fear works to motivate us but can also get us killed.
May 02, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating look at what goes on inside our brains when we feel fear. Wise's anecdotes of people in terrifying situations actually had me all tensed up in my chair (there goes empathy doing its job!).
Jason Tyne-zimmerman
Jun 09, 2010 Jason Tyne-zimmerman rated it really liked it
It's just a tad bit it's not quite a full five stars, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Okay, and I'm kind of a geek as well...if you've got a tiny geek in you as well, add this to your summer reading list.

It's just what it says it is: the science of fear.
Matthew Dambro
Sep 28, 2015 Matthew Dambro rated it it was amazing
Fascinating study of the physiological and psychological effects of fear. It is well researched and wonderfully written. Wise summarizes the latest research in the field and makes his points with real life anecdotes. A must read for first responders or anyone who must go in harms way.
Marcella Burnard
Jul 18, 2010 Marcella Burnard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting look into the neurology and the psychology of fear situations. I love getting to dissect human responses without ever having to get out of my chair. I have a whole slew of pages marked for future reference and that's always a sign of a good book.
May 05, 2013 Annette rated it really liked it
Strong science with compelling anecdotal backup. The how-to segments are almost humorously basic and vague, but that's to be expected.
Callan rated it really liked it
Aug 21, 2012
Stephen Jungmann
Stephen Jungmann rated it really liked it
Oct 02, 2010
Luke Worgan
Luke Worgan rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2014
Flan rated it it was ok
Jul 20, 2014
Linda Cureton
Linda Cureton rated it it was amazing
Mar 21, 2012
Sam Sheridan
Sam Sheridan rated it it was amazing
Oct 25, 2012
Darrell rated it liked it
Oct 17, 2016
Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2014
Andy Ganse
Andy Ganse rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2012
Hugh C
Hugh C rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2015
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Oct 23, 2015
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Matthew Nitti rated it did not like it
Feb 12, 2016
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Alex Upton rated it it was amazing
Mar 09, 2014
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Greg Wastek rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2014
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Jeff Wise is a science writer, outdoor adventurer, and pilot of airplanes and gliders. A contributing editor at Popular Mechanics and Travel + Leisure, he has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Details, Popular Science, Men’s Journal, and many others. In the course of his journalism career he has surfed in Alaska, scuba dived the South China Sea, piloted a WWII fighter plane, a ...more
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“It may sound obvious, but studies of disasters have found that many people remain in denial in the face of evident danger. Nightclub patrons continue to dance and order new rounds of drinks as smoke fills their burning hall; passengers on a sinking ferry sit and smoke cigarettes as the vessel lists ever more ominously to one side. This denial is driven by a mental phenomenon called “normalcy bias.” Psychologists say that people who have never experienced a fatal catastrophe have difficulty recognizing that one could be unfolding.” 0 likes
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