Intelligent Fear: How to Make Fear Work for You

Clarkson, Michael. Intelligent Fear: How To Make Fear Work for You. Marlowe: Avalon, dist. by Publishers Group West. 2003. c.208p. ISBN 1-56924-489-8. pap. $13.95.

Clarkson, a journalist at the Toronto Star, analyzes the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of fear, reminding us that “we still react to danger … the same way we have for more than a million years.” Yet while our hard-wired capabilities were eminently useful for cave dwellers facing saber-toothed tigers, they don’t work as well with contemporary hazards like threats to our egos and sports challenges. Unfortunately, Clarkson overintellectualizes a “system of fear” encompassing worry, anxiety, stress, and fear. Workmanlike writing aside, this lacks how-to, and the most interesting material comes from quoted experts. Consider instead Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, Hugh Prather’s direct and fun The Little Book of Letting Go, and Thom Rutledge’s considerate Embracing Fear. Forget this title.

This review appeared in Library Journal on May 15, 2003 on  p.107; the galley was shredded on August 28, 2012.

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