Scientists have discovered that fear resides in one specific part of the brain. When a particular part of a monkey’s brains is removed, it becomes fearless, and it approaches snakes, for instance, without its usual trepidation. Could those among us who seem fearless (soldiers, for example), have weaker amygdalas than the rest of us?

In the December 21st edition of the New York Times, Sindya N. Bhanoo quotes neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein as saying, "There’s not very many humans with this sort of brain damage." But Feinstein discovered a woman with a rare brain condition that gave her holes where her amygdala would be. She walked through a park alone one night and was attacked by a man with a knife, but that didn’t stop her, Feinstein says, "The following day, she again walked through the same park." Basic training in the future may include altering the "fear" part of the brain–temporarily, at least.

The Times quotes Feinstein as saying, "We may be able to dampen the effects of the amygdala. We can do that through psychotherapy and possibly through medication."

We don’t want to scare you, but we want to deliver a small but subtle warning to all our readers and listeners: If we don’t get more support from you, we will soon be nothing more than a memory. So if you love this website, get our really great book The Path, and come see your favorite Drealand hosts IN PERSON in June! But whatever ELSE you do: Subscribe today!

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I got a message from God because I successfully ordered something over the internet. If you don’t think that’s too crazy (or even if you do), keep reading.

While I think of myself as a reader of serious media, there is one rather silly woman’s magazine that I like to read every month. If I subscribed to it, I could get it much more cheaply, but since I tell myself every month that I’m not going to read such trivia (but always buy it anyway) I never have. At the end of the month, I start looking for it eagerly, every time I pass a news stand. Since the issues are all pretty much the same, I sometimes purchase the same one twice, by mistake.

Last month, this magazine featured a necklace I felt I just had to have. It was silver and had the word “fearlessness” on it. But somehow, even though I often order things online, I couldn’t get the website store to accept my order. I had the correct URL, but my shopping cart simply would not fill up.

I decided that the problem might be that I didn’t deserve to wear it, because even though I would probably describe myself as fearless, after all I have been through, I’m really not. I thought that if I DID become at least somewhat fearless, the website would work for me, so I kept trying to order the necklace whenever it occurred to me to do so. This went on for several weeks, but I never succeeded.

Then I went to a lunch with some of our business partners. We were going to be introduced to someone we had never met before. While Whitley parked the car, I went into the restaurant to find them. When I located their table, I introduced myself to one of the men sitting there, thinking it was the new person we were meeting. It turned out that I introduced myself to one of our long time business partners, someone I know well. We have even been out socially with him and his wife. Everyone was quite astonished.

I remembered something I read recently, while searching for science stories for our website: That a stroke can cause a person to have diminished facial recognition of other people. This happened to me once before, when I didn’t recognize someone else I should have known well, but I put it down to the fact that the light was dim.

I was very embarrassed, but I explained what I thought was probably happening and everyone got a big laugh over it. I realized that I have to face my limitations honestly and deal with them, rather than try to deny them. That’s real fearlessness.

I thought I’d done that. I’ve faced the fact that I’ve lost some peripheral vision. I’ve already bought a bright red glasses case and a light pink cell phone cover so I can find these items inside my purse, which has a dark interior. I carry ballpoint pens that are white, so I can find them easily too.

Something that has been driving me crazy is the fact that I seemed to have lost all the “fun” books I received for Christmas. I like to read two types of books at the same time: a more serious one and some lighter fare, usually a mystery. My current serious book is by a French philosopher who toured America, and while it’s a delightful book, I need to take a break from it occasionally, but I couldn’t find any of my new mysteries. One problem with diminished peripheral vision is you don’t tend to see things that are at the bottom of your visual field. Suddenly, I happened to look down and saw all my mysteries stacked up just where I’d left them, on the bottom shelf of the table next to my reading chair, where they’d been all the time.

I got the message. I immediately sat down at the computer and tried to order that necklace again, and this time I was successful. Now I know that fearlessness is something we all need, because living even an ordinary life takes courage.

May you all be brave in the face of your particular adversity, whatever it is.

NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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