The End of Fear – Anxiety and Phobia

The End of Fear is a short book by Thomas M. Alben and John J. Esposito that examines the origins of fear and builds upon the work of many theorists including Sigmund Freud. The main theme is the fear of vulnerability and the ability to face and deal with it. As such, the book examines the ability to overcome fear through the utilization of the fight or flight response as a means to stifle our natural instincts and thus protect us from harm. The authors explain that human beings evolved for a reason: to survive. The problem with modern man is that he has lost this primary purpose of his existence and now that purpose is threatened by an array of sources that come from both the natural and human-made components of our environment.

The End of Fear

For example, in today’s society there are a multitude of sources of noise that constantly bombard the environment, particularly in the workplace. The authors show that one of the primary causes of this heightened level of noise is stress: stress builds upon the fears that humans have been conditioned to experience and perpetuates our ancestral’s natural fight reaction of aggression. Once we have begun to experience stress, the fight reaction or our innate biological fear response is reawakened and we begin to measure our survival primarily in terms of our ability to avoid danger or defend ourselves from potential harm. While this may be a survival mechanism that has been extremely useful in our evolutionary past, in today’s modern society it has become such a threat that we have turned it into a double edged sword, generating unnecessary anxiety and tension that in fact serves no useful purpose in our lives. The authors describe this phenomenon as “the paradoxical predicament of the overextended mind.”

In the End of Fear, the authors briefly examine some of the psychological principles that support the fight or flight response and the implications of its use in our modern world. They also consider some of the more common methods used to treat anxiety and fear disorders, both pharmacologic and behavioral. Finally, they conclude their book with a brief discussion on effective approaches to dealing with anxiety and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy in helping patients deal with the anxiety and fear that can cause so much trouble in our lives. This helpful book offers valuable insights into this often complex and misunderstood area of mental health.