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Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns

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FOUR

How Fear Distorts Perception

The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security

in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the

new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.

—Martin Luther King Jr.

IN THE LAST CHAPTER, we saw how fear can inhibit action. Fear also has another pernicious effect on potential iconoclasts: fear has the potential for interacting with the perceptual system and changing what a person sees (or thinks he sees). This is a far more dangerous scenario than the inhibitory effects of fear. In the last chapter, I focused on how fear prevents people from doing things. But when fear changes perception, the individual is not necessarily inhibited from action. Instead, he might choose the ...

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