In the Harry Potter books and films, the main characters are often threatened by evil forces, in the form of both human and not so human entities such as Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
Author J.K. Rowling says, “I feel very strongly that there is a move to sanitise literature because we’re trying to protect children, not from the grizzly facts of life, but from their own imaginations.
“We need to fear and need to confront fear in a controlled environment and that’s a very important part of growing up.” [starpulse.com]
Literature and drama, including movies, can provide that kind of controlled environment, as Jungian analyst and writer Marie-Louise von Franz, among others, explores in her books such as Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales.
But how does experiencing fear relate to being creative?
In her HuffingtonPost article Fear and Self-Loathing in Hollywood, Arianna Huffington writes, “Courage, my compatriot Socrates said, is the knowledge of what is not to be feared. But far too often in Hollywood, people are afraid of their own shadows — which can be a real career-killer.
“After all, it’s next to impossible to be truly creative when you are afraid of shadows (unless you are a nubile teen cast in a slasher flick, in which case you have a very good reason to fear those dark nooks and crannies).
“The most stultifying and damaging fear infecting Hollywood is, of course, the fear of failure, because it keeps you from taking risks — and risk is an essential element of creativity and art. Failure is part and parcel of any creative life. It’s not the opposite of success; it’s an integral part of success.”
Arianna Huffington is author of the book On Becoming Fearless.
Actor Molly Parker [“Deadwood”] agrees that a lot of decisions in Hollywood “get made based on fear” and says, “It’s something that I try really hard to not buy into… (but) I’m often attracted to projects that scare me in terms of what they’re about, because it challenges who I am and who I think I am and what I think the world is about.”
Actor and producer Drew Barrymore thinks “There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.” [From imdb.com]
One exuberant instance of her daring was in 1995 when she flashed David Letterman on his show. “How fun was that?,”Barrymore commented about it. “I’m so glad I was so free at one point in my life.”
Barrymore still nurtures that spirit at times: “I’ll drive in Ireland and park my car and run out into the field and rip all my clothes off and just run in the wheat fields naked. That’s for no one to see. That’s to have that freedom of feeling, like, at one with nature. So I am completely unguarded still.”
She adds, “I can’t handle actors who are guarded. I just think that it’s a tragedy when people are self-protective and angry about it. You have to know what the job entails.” [From How To Be Happy All the Time, by James Kaplan, Parade, Jan 21, 2007.]
Sandra Bullock is also someone who embraces risk as a creative strategy in choosing her acting roles.
She says, “I don’t do anything anymore that feels safe. If it doesn’t scare the crap out of you, then you’re not doing the right thing…” [From the page: Fear.]
The photo is Bullock in one of her bold roles, as Leigh Anne Tuohy in “The Blind Side.”
We can learn to risk fear and work with it to be more creative.
Psychiatrist Judith Orloff M.D. outlines strategies for overcoming fear, including: “Try not to obsess on fear — we are addicted to fear. Replace it with a positive thought or action… Avoid energy vampires, people who suck you dry with their fear or doom and gloom attitude.” [From her book Positive Energy.]
Robert Maurer, a clinical psychologist and teacher, exclaims, “Fear is good. As children, fear is a natural part of our lives, but as adults we view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease. Children say they are afraid or scared, but adults use the clinical terms anxiety or depression.
“A writer should not view fear as something bad, but as essentially doing something right.” [From article Writers can use fear to advantage, by Victor Inzunza.]
But we also need to be aware of the quality of our fear, and how valid it really is.
In his article Facing Fear with Deliberate Awareness, personal development teacher and musician Tupelo Kenyon notes that in our history as a species, “fear was an important tool for survival. Faced with a hungry wild animal, our fear kicked in, and our imagination provided us with graphic images of what was about to happen. Lunch!”
But, he adds, even without that kind of threat today, “our fear reflex still kicks in, just the same.”
“It’s not so much what’s happening in our world that creates the fear as what’s happening in our minds.”
He quotes Montaigne (1533-1595): “He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because of his fear.”
The video is by science journalist Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger.
Here are quotes from a couple of his articles :
“Even low levels of fear can have a positive effect. A century ago, physiologists recognized that we tend to do better at a given task as the intensity of the challenge increases. Eventually we reach a performance maximum, beyond which our abilities begin to degrade. Taken together, these performance trends yield an inverted-U shape, known to psychologists as the Yerkes-Dodson law. Just when the peak occurs depends not only on the person but on the skill involved.”
“One crucial tool for mastering fear is to develop a sense of confidence in your abilities. You can train yourself for this mindset by setting challenging but reachable goals that become progressively more difficult. Dread public speaking? Make a toast at a small dinner party. Afraid of heights? Try tackling the lower reaches of a climbing wall. Above all, be sure to reward yourself when you’re successful.”
Both of these articles are in the Psychology Today collection Overcoming Fear.
Article publié pour la première fois le 27/05/2015