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Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  471 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It ...more
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Published March 6th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company
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Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Fear not the fear!*

Fear! Anxiety! Stress! If reading those words just about pushed you over the edge, then Read! This! Book! (Now!).

Non-trembling hands down, Taylor's book _Nerve_ is one of the best ones I've encountered on dealing with the "nervous trinity" of fear, anxiety, and stress. The author is actually the perfect person to deliver the message that fear is not the enemy we assume it to be. In the beginning of the book he admits that:
"I am hardly the cool-headed master of fear. I'm not a
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Taylor Clark is entertaining and humorous as he writes about fear, anxiety, and stress, and how the seemingly fearless actually handle fear with heroism. Clark's thesis, embracing fear and working with it to discover cool under pressure, is a theme we have heard before. But Nerve is very readable, full of case studies that brim with the personalities of the subjects and of Clark himself. His humorous footnote at the bottom of one page, "Incidentally, most of what we know about the science of fea ...more
Jay Kamaladasa
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing about fear is that it's a rather straightforward and simple subject when you're not afraid. However, when fear takes over your mind, it's another story. Hence the science behind fear might seem trivial, but it is very real, and is extremely practical. In this context, the science that's described in the book might seem trivial, yet it adds so much practical value that this book might end up being the best thing you'll read.

The book is loosely categorized into chapters that from the fi
Avery Runstedler
An excellent collection of stories about how people from all walks of life either cope or give in to the highly stressful situations that are placed in front of them. Whether it's a professional sports player, a trauma unit surgeon, or an innocent bystander at the beach, Clark pulls the reader right into their lives. The author also provides great suggestions on how to cope with stressful situations in your own life.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Puiki knyga. Nepavadinčiau jos savipagalbos knyga. Veikiau knyga, suteikiančia daug informacijos. Autorius sugebėjo suprantamai, paprastai ir įdomiai perteikti neurologų, psichologų, psichiatrų ir kitų specialistų atliktus tyrimus apie nerimą, baimę ir stresą bei sujungti juos su įdomiomis istorijomis apie žmonių (ir gyvūnų) elgesį, savijautą bei mintis nerimo, baimės ir streso akivaizdoje. Istorijomis, tokiomis kaip apie:

-         Sovietų povandeninius laivus, Kubos raketų krizę bei tai, kaip v
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was thrilled to receive this book in a Firstreads giveaway and enjoy reading literature on resiliency and survival. Nerve is an entertaining, well-written exploration of fear, phobias, anxiety and just plain nerves. Taylor Clark delves into the physiological and mental aspects of fear’s manifestations and what we can do to overcome its hold on us. Most importantly we must accept our fears and face them bravely. Avoidance is one of the worst things we can possibly do.

One of the most interestin
The book is entertaining (I felt like I’m reading a magazine). The book is filled with interviews/stories of athletes, firefighters, surgeons … etc.


*Amygdala is the home center for our fear in the brain. In any dangerous situation, the amygdala “takes over” the frontal cortex (thinking area). The amygdala also has its own memory and that’s why you don’t forget fear memories, unlike any other memories.

*To overcome fear, we shouldn’t avoid it but face it. Facing fear over time will lead to the
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Work with your fear instead of wasting energy fighting it. Fear is normal for everyone. Those who succeed just learn to expect and embrace it."

That quote is my attempt at an 80/20 of this book's core message. This non-fiction book is well-written. While not an academic work, I wouldn't classify it as a thin, "pop-business" book either. It's somewhere in between. "Nerve" is well researched and the blend of solid research and effective storytelling means the books lessons have a better shot of st
Jonathan Henricks
Not going to lie, this book has been amazing! Rarely do I feel the need to talk about the books I read in conversation, however this one managed to pop up in some way every day since I've read it! The book covers incredibly interesting topics and tells vivid stores which only make the reader ready to take action against their own fears and challenge what they thought would be impossible! Already I've used 10+ hours talking about this book and its subjects alone! Don't you love it when you read s ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing it gives you the basic information involving fear, stress, and anxiety. So for people who are new to psychology this is perfect. It give little stories, and interview so that it keeps the reader interested for the whole book. At the same time they provided us with new information thats also easy to understand. It doesn't give us too much information that we don't understand what we are read either. So it's a great book if your just getting into psychology, and I suspect that ...more
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can honestly say that this book about the psychology of fear was fascinating. Unlike the textbooks I read in college for my Psychology minor, each topic is illustrated by real-life examples that turns a possibly dry discussion into an emotional rollercoaster. The author's intellectual wit make for a fun, interesting read.
Bayu Jibrael
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
God, this book is a life-changing read!
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book and I really liked it because it matched these adages (that I like) which are basically "fake until you make it" OR "act as if..."
The book had a number of anecdotes about people acting well under circumstances of fear. I was disappointed that all the people featured were male. :(
The twelve ideas at the end of the book are extremely helpful:

1. Breathe--Deep breathing actually decreases reactivity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces heart rate, resulting in
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because I read an excerpt from that pointed out a curious fact: Americans have the highest stress and anxiety level in the world even though we are in one of the safest countries in the world. What’s up with that? I can’t pretend to not understand those scared ‘Mericans. I have my own stress levels that sometimes bewilder me as well. So, I opened this book looking for some explanations.

Found ‘em! Tons of explanations. In a very conversational tone (this guy wri
Orbs n Rings
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Just when you thought you knew everything about fear and anxiety, Clark pivots you toward the unknown.

Just like everyone in this world, I myself have many times had the so called case of the nerves. What Clark explains in his book is that everyone on this planet has at one time or another dealt with fear or the so called crippling anxiety. More musicians, actors, doctors and regular folks than one can even imagine deal with it on a regular basis. The case studies and real person interviews Clark
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got the copy I won in the Goodreads giveaway a while ago (thanks for sending it again!) and I am glad I did, because Clark's book was a great read. I see that I consumed it in just 4 days; no small feat for me, as I am a rather slow reader. Clark does a good job of summarizing and highlighting historical and current research into the mysteries of the amygdala, the fear response, anxiety, and stress. He tells the stories of remarkable examples of humans who cracked or excelled under str ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It manages to give practical, usable advice while still delivering an exciting, engaging and often funny read. I cannot say enough about this book.

I never would have picked it as something to pay for; it was a last-second addition to my library audiobook haul one week. I tossed in the first disc and it instantly became one of those books on cd that make you weirdly excited to get back in your car, and sometimes leave you sitting in your parked car waiting for the chapter to en
“Americans are safer and more secure today than at any other point in human history,” yet the United States outranks the rest of the world on the anxiety scale, and the anxiety of high school students rivals that of 1950’s psychiatric patients. Contrary to logic and statistics, which should give us cause to breathe a sigh of relief, we succumb to our fears, experiencing Monk-like phobias and reactions as we grow increasingly anxious with each year. Brains function as “anxiety-fueled arch villain ...more
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jason Packham
This tapped into my love of 'medicine' reading. I was fascinated by the nitty-gritty details he extracted from the experiments that have been conducted related to our brains, fear, our responses to stressors or relaxers. I feel I have a better know-how of navigating through the ups and downs of emotions a mother encounters in a day (similar to those of a pro athlete or law officers, I'd say :).

Though I'm not a sports statistics guru, I enjoyed the chapters dealing with the psychology of sports a
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fear, anxiety, and stress plague tons of people in their day-to-day lives. Anxiety and stress definitely play a big part in my daily life so I was excited to see what benefits Nerve (March 2011) would bring to my situation. Clark’s Nerve takes on the subject in a light but thought-provoking way. He uses case studies to introduce the different topics covered throughout Nerve that are easy to understand and very relatable. His ease of storytelling definitely makes for a riveting and educational re ...more
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book is a fascinating look at what fear is, how it can be helpful and harmful, how it can be managed. Anxiety, worry and related topics are also discussed. There were a lot of great insights into how our psychology works either for us or against us. I'll share a couple of things: we've all heard of fight or flight, but actually it's fight, flight or freeze. Training or preparing ahead of time can cut the "freeze" time. Pay attention to those airline stewardesses showing you the exits: that ...more
Desmond Sherlock
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW! This is a great book full of examples that inspire us to face our fears.
Nerve is another word for fear, anxiety and stress, says Clark and I agree. He finishes by telling us his 12 tips to put us on to the path of learning to deal with our nerves and the fear that is simply a part of life and death.

There is no magic panaceia for dealing with fear, says clark but there are things we can do to prepare for it.

This book marries well with my thoughts on uncertainty and the fear it can cause us.
Danielle Robertson Rath
I LOVED this book!!! The way Taylor Clark writes is inspiring. You can tell much effort and passion went into this book. All the different stories about how people from various professions handle stress and anxiety was really eye-opening. As a gymnast, I had serious fear issues. I wish I could've read this book then because it would've helped me past the mental block that ended my career (incomplete twist, torn ACL/meniscus).
I would recommend this book to anyone who's ever led fear keep them fr
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has fear or fearful people in their lives
An incredibly helpful and fascinating book about what happens to people and their brains when they experience fear, anxiety, and stress; and also how and what happens when they overcome the sometimes debilitating effects of these states. It is possible!

One quote I particularly liked from Evelyn Behar, a researcher who studies worry at the University of Illinois at Chicago: "Behavior always outweighs cognition. If you can make yourself behave in a healthier way, it can actually change your thoug
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting review of the literature about performance (or lack there of performance) under pressure, with the main theme that one should not suppress fear or anxiety, but rather learn to live/perform in the presence of them. It concludes with a dozen ideas about how to manage stressful moments, one of which - have a drink of water - i'm finding really helpful when I have too many deadlines coming at once. The audio version is not easily referenced, so it may be that the hard copy or electr ...more
Wendy Hines
Anxiety is thirty percent genetic. I did not know that, but I do believe that if our parents are worrywarts, we will pick that up and utilize that in our own lives. Worrying about things you cannot change is not good for you. Neither is suppressing your feelings and thoughts. The best way to stay calm and collected is to avoid things that worry or scare us. Seems sensible, but it is not realistic. Nerve validates different scientific case studies and reporting to show us why some people thrive u ...more
I just couldn’t finish this one. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, it’s just that I read Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide last year and was wowed by his prose and ability to make esoteric studies captivating and relatable. Given that this book draws on much of the same research but takes things much much more slowly—perhaps in an effort to make it applicable to the masses—there just wasn’t anything I was reading that I hadn’t heard before…. And some of the stuff was like high school biology basi ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an excellent book. Even though it was a non-fiction book, it was a compelling read. He made the science really entertaining. It was also well organized and well thought out, something I especially appreciate in a non-fiction book. And I felt like I could use the science in my life. I really get stuck in worry sometimes and while I know I shouldn’t worry, sometimes understanding why I get sucked so easily into the worry loop (which he talks about) is helpful to ending the worry ...more
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book for people with anxiety disorders (such as myself), the style of the writing is easy to digest, and if you aren't interested in the case studies, you can skip right over them! I read a few of the studies in the book, but some others didn't interest me, and I couldn't relate to at all.

The author has struggled with his own anxiety over the years, and gives great insight into what it feels like, and what works best. A lot of the information I have read elsewhere, but I like the st
Mary (BookHounds)
I am drawn to books like this, something that provides a wealth of knowledge written in a fun and snarky way. Nerve didn't disappoint in the snarky department. There is a wide range of studies about how your nerves work, why some people get panic attacks while others attack the issues with grace and never break a sweat. I am one of those that can't speak in public to save my life, but my son thrives on it. The book explains that we are all wired differently to react to situations that occur dail ...more
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“Take the common Buddhist practice of “noting,” for example: practitioners learn to label their worries and feelings with a simple tag like “thinking” or “anger,” taking note of them mindfully without engaging them directly. In a 2007 study, the UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman showed thirty volunteers fear-provoking images and then asked them to note their feelings (“I feel afraid”) as he monitored their brain activity. Upon seeing the unpleasant images, the subjects’ amygdalae lit up at first, but the labeling process soon sparked activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, damping activity in the amygdala. Lieberman believes this mindful noting—the simple act of putting our feelings into words—helps the brain disambiguate our emotions and provide a level of detachment from them. “One of the ways labeling is useful is in talking with other people,” he told me. “If you can get someone to talk about their feelings, it’ll end up being beneficial to them in ways they may not realize.” (Writing about how we feel in a journal serves the same purpose; it helps us sort out emotions, like anxiety, on a deeper subconscious level.)” 0 likes
“In tense moments, explains the clinical psychologist Rod Martin, the purpose of pranks like Venanzi’s isn’t merely to elicit a chuckle; joking actually reformats your perception of a stressor. “Humor is about playing with ideas and concepts,” said Martin, who teaches at the University of Western Ontario. “So whenever we see something as funny, we’re looking at it from a different perspective. When people are trapped in a stressful situation and feeling overwhelmed, they’re stuck in one way
of thinking: This is terrible. I’ve got to get out of here. But if you can take a humorous perspective, then by definition you’re looking at it differently—you’re breaking out of that rigid mind-set.”
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