Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger
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Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  16 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 Palgrave Macmillan Trade (first published 2009)
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Sahana Sudarshan
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...more
Loren Olson
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...more
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...more
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
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!
Read for school, quite interesting.
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.
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.
Jason Tyne-zimmerman
It's just a tad bit dry...at parts...so 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.
Marcella Burnard
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.
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!).
Strong science with compelling anecdotal backup. The how-to segments are almost humorously basic and vague, but that's to be expected.
E. Smith
Dec 20, 2011 E. Smith marked it as paused
Shelves: i-quit
Had to stop. Too many other things to read. Looking forward to picking it up again.
Fascinating, informed, and useful.
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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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