Fear is the most ancient emotion, a sort of automatic pilot that sets off instinctive responses which have worked for thousands of years. Today we no longer have to flee from predators, but we are obliged to address more sophisticated challenges: some real, some imaginary. And learning how to smell danger continues to be a precious resource for survival in the physical and especially social world. Perhaps you can't give yourself courage, but - as this book attempts to show - being afraid is a healthy reaction that prepares us for action. And, according to the specific situation, the most intelligent reaction might involve combat, flight, shrewd obstacle avoidance, or even a long burst of laughter that buries your adversary. The book also touches on a number of other themes: the diversity of cultural attitudes towards fear, the painful existential aspects of the human condition, the pleasure of watching a horror film, the love of adventure.
Maria Rita Ciceri teaches General Psychology at the Catholic University of Milan.