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Sweeney Todd

An Unspecified Dread

Posted on 2013.11.19 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114

Greed, I've often said, is the root of all evil I've seen. Some believe its fear. A fear of not having enough, or fear of never filling that hole in one's soul gives birth to greed. Whatev. Point is, only rarely do I experience such fear, and its usually without origin, without form.

Formless fear is of course, silly. It rarely surfaces and when it does I acknowledge it - look for a reason - and if one is not found dismiss it. The only reason I'm writing this is because I experienced it at 1330 on Monday the 11th. After my daily 0900 conference call I phoned my grandfather-in-law Bill as I do every Veteran's Day, and at some point between tasks at work was riding high on concluding Something Greater than Yourself. After lunch, this sort of unspecified darkness started creeping in, like something bad was about to happen. Which is ridiculous. Nonetheless, I find fear useful when used properly and sought out its cause. None found however, I let it go. Perhaps it was the gray sky after a weekend filled with sunshine and perfect weather?

I mention this only because I've been around people in the past who experience the same elusive fear, look around them to see what's going on, then they pick whatever random thing they see and blame it. No shit - all of a sudden - that one thing is unmitigated evil and the cause for all manner of fear and justification for abhorrent thoughts and behavior.

Because of the lighting-fast coalescent bond one then forms as a permanent association (i.e. that event, this emotion) no amount of logic (or, dare I say, counseling) can undo it. The damage is done. At least that's what I experienced.

But here's the thing. Its never seems to be something hyper-specific which can be identified and rooted out. Is that to save themselves? Then again its also nothing too generic - they don't want to associate their fear with something which could occur over and over. Something too common, like cotton. No one ever says, "I have this fear inside of me that is growing and its cause is...cotton." To me, that denotes intelligence. What I mean by that is they must know its dumb to just point at something and accuse it of being the source of their malcontent, so they instead choose something they're already uncomfortable with but have been unable to articulate why. (That said, I have had the surprising rope-a-dope of pointing out that the event was happening again exactly as it had previously without an abhorrent thought or action only to be told something along the lines of, "Of course not because this other non-associated event/thought/color/activity/person/whatever I never previously mentioned isn't simultaneously occurring so its totally, different.")

So yeah, anyone's guess I suppose.

My own unspecified dread? Yeah it passed about half an hour later - before I blamed it on some innocuous thing potentially changing the trajectory of my life forever. Whew!


michelle1963 at 2013-11-19 12:09 (UTC) (Link)
People do this with depression too. They feel bad and look for cause, because if one feels that bad, surely there must be cause. When the depression is due to a biochemical reaction in the brain, rather than an external event, like a disagreement with your boss, a death on the family etc - easily identifiable negative events - then looking for a reason and randomly choosing one, often compounds the problem. Now the person has a brain chemistry issue and is barking up the wrong tree as to the reason, and is now creating a problem in the external environment where none previously existed.

A very wise person I once knew, who suffered from depression, told me that when he would feel depressed, he understood it was brain chemistry and purposefully refrained from looking for external causes knowing there weren't any.

Edited at 2013-11-19 12:12 pm (UTC)
ehowton at 2013-11-19 19:58 (UTC) (Link)
You should watch that TED video pcofwildthings linked. Then again, angry or depressed people might watch the video and be comforted that shit never happens to them. Because, you know - the patterns they see are the real ones, 100% of the time.

Oh nevermind.
pcofwildthings at 2013-11-19 18:51 (UTC) (Link)
This ties right in with a book I read this summer called The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. In it, he talks about two things at work here, patternicity and agenticity. You can see his TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_the_pattern_behind_self_deception.html
ehowton at 2013-11-19 19:51 (UTC) (Link)
"The Power of Expectation" he said. I've surely beat that horse to death. People seem to understand the concept, but not recognize it in themselves. I fancy myself pretty fucking smart and I struggle with it all the time. Its always fun to hear not-smart people talk about never having that problem :/

Thanks for the link.
michelle1963 at 2013-11-21 04:08 (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting Ted Talk. It made sense how natural selection would cause us to err on the side of false positives, given the penalty for being wrong.
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