The Paranoia Switch by Martha Stout

Zadius Sky

The Living Force
On the morning of September 11, 2001, fear took up residence in our minds.
- Martha Stout


Stout, Martha. The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior – and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage. New York: Sarah Crichton Books, 2007.


Recently, I have obtained the 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 entitled The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior – and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage. 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.

The first chapter of Paranoia Switch introduces the reader the concepts of 'fear switch' and limbic resonance. The second chapter, "How Terrorism Works," brings the reader to understand the nature of terrorism and its use of fear. The third chapter focuses on how trauma affected the human brain. "Fearing As One" is a fourth chapter which brings forth a case study of Leena and the further understanding of limbic resonance. The next chapter, "The Limbic Wars," reveals how authoritarian political leaders use people's fear to achieve their personal agenda by looking at the six stages of the limbic wars. The parallel between domestic abuse and terrorism is discussed in the sixth chapter. The next two chapters address the political orientation as genetic component, the fear brokers and their ten behavioral characteristics. The last chapter, "Homeland Security," details the actions that one would need to uptake in order to get rid of one's fear.

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. (p.24)

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.


You will find this book at:
_http://www.amazon.com/Paranoia-Switch-Rewires-Reshapes-Behavior/dp/0374229996
 

Justin

Jedi Master
"The Paranoia Switch" by Martha Stout

_rtsp://video.c-span.org/archive/arc_btv/btv012008_stout.rm

This is a link to a video of Martha Stout discussing the book. The video is 50 minutes or so and was recorded for BookTV/ CSPAN2 on 9/14/07. I found it interesting to hear her speak after having read several of her books, although I have not read Paranoia Switch yet. Someone in the audience asked her is she had heard of Naomi Klien’s “The Shock Doctrine”, which apparently was due to be released shortly after this video was recorded.
 

Tigersoap

The Living Force
"The Paranoia Switch" by Martha Stout

I just finished it yesterday.

I think it is mainly aimed at an american audience, traumatized by 9/11.
But it remains valid for any person of course.
Having read the sociopath nextdoor (currently reading the myth of sanity) I thought it was less interesting at first but the final chapters remain a clear and concise guide on how to spot a "fear broker".
 

Miss Isness

Jedi Master
"The Paranoia Switch" by Martha Stout

Tigersoap wrote: but the final chapters remain a clear and concise guide on how to spot a "fear broker"
Would it be possible to summarize the main points of the final chapter, or post a few pertinent extracts?
 

Tigersoap

The Living Force
"The Paranoia Switch" by Martha Stout

Miss Isness said:
Would it be possible to summarize the main points of the final chapter, or post a few pertinent extracts?
I'll just write the "10 Behavioral characteristics of fear brokers" checklist (which are explained in very clear and simple way) in her book) :

1 Fear brokers speak to us of fear, dangerous people and frightening situations
2 Fear brokers are not limited to facts, they use alarming "unfacts"
3 Fear brokers tend to accuse those who disagree with them of being unpatriotic and/or naive
4 Fear brokers look good
5 Fear brokers behave like archetypal parents
6 Fear broker shame us over sex
7 In seeming contradiction, fear brokers praise us for bring moral and heroic
8 Fear brokers project personal infallibility
9 Fear brokers are secretive,and are certain that other people, too, are keeping dangerous secrets.
10 Fear brokers use language that pulls for primitive affect

Is that what you were looking for ?
 
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