A month ago, I have obtained this new book by Martha Stout, Ph.D, while browsing a local bookstore and this book has just been released this month. It was an interesting timing because this book has addressed how the traumatized event of 9/11 affected the American minds and how these minds were 'locked' on fear. By using her psychological and neuro-psychological research on fear and terror, Martha Stout wrote a very insightful book. Her work brings the reader to understand the nature of fear and terror, and how it was done to one's mind. There are nine chapters in this book, but it is composed of four parts: a personal struggle with fear, the phenomenon of terrorism, protection against future fear, and a new hope. Throughout The Paranoia Switch, there is an understanding about how politician leaders used people's fear by looking what are terrorism, limbic wars, and fear brokers.
We often hear this word, "terrorism," daily in our lives. We hear it on the radio, watch it on the news, read it in the newspapers, and we would feel the fear when this word is mentioned everywhere we go. In her book, Stout defined terrorism as "violence committed with the primary goal of manipulating the minds of the surviving population" (p. 27). So, why has terrorism becomes massive on global scale? It is because our fears are what fuels terrorism and our leaders are using our fears for their own selfish reasons. It is important for one to know, from reading this book, that terrorism does not always work unless it affects our minds.
Stout pointed out that the United States was a 'habituated' country until that morning of September 11, 2001. It was not 'used' to being exposed to acts of terrorism as other countries have had done, and it has experienced a profound shock. United States has yet to develop a coping mechanism to 'short-circuit the paranoia switch.' So, instead, its paranoia switch is stuck and it is continuing to be 'stuck' as long as the U.S. politicians keep feeding the public's fear (p. 39).
Secondly, the Limbic Wars are described in the fifth chapter, which Stout has included the American examples of Ku Klux Klan, the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans, and McCarthyism. And, she has detailed the six stages of Limbic War, including group trauma, fear brokers, scapegoatism, cultural regression, recognition and backlash, and regret and forgetting (p. 109-114). Her discussion of the limbic system and limbic resonance are clearly understandable and so are their roles on fear.
Thirdly, Fear Brokers are power-hungry individuals who use the public's fear to pursue their private agenda (p. 110). Chapter Eight of Paranoia Switch outlined the ten behavioral characteristics of fear brokers. Stout pointed out that it is critical for the reader to identify and to know how to deal with the fear brokers. One of her suggestions was when one sees a fear broker speaking on television, to say to yourself: "that person wants to control me with fear" (p. 167).
Stout places a strong emphasis on responsibility for oneself when it comes to fear. She encourages the reader to have courage to face one's fear by putting into action from knowing how fear was manifested in themselves and how it was being used. Politicians are using fear to keep people in check and under their control, but it does not have to be that way. In regards to nations, Stout has pointed out:
"If fear holds a democratic nation in thrall in the long term, causing the greater portion of its citizens to avoid thinking for themselves indefinitely, the best psychological prediction is that democracy will decline and eventually die." (p. 201)
She also stressed that by giving into fear, by letting it affect us, we are letting the the fear brokers (e.g., our authoritarian leaders) to control us. In a sense, we are letting them to control our paranoia switch.
By looking briefly at what are terrorism, limbic war and fear brokers from Martha Stout's The Paranoia Switch, there is an understanding about how politician leaders used public's fear to pursue their very own personal agenda. This book is most certainly insightful and essential. To understand how power-hungry and psychopathic leaders control the public's mind, Stout's Paranoia Switch will give you the answers. Stout's unique research has helped me to better understand the role of fear and terror in our lives. It is my humble opinion to recommend this book for the readers.
Respectfully, I give high praises to Martha Stout for her unique perspective and bringing her work to us.