Riddle people: those who do not know fear

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It is difficult to find a person who would not be afraid of anything. Alone they are afraid of heights, others are afraid of spiders, still others are afraid to ride the elevator … But there are people who are fearless in the truest sense of the word. It’s just that the zones of fear in their brain are atrophied. With one such the patient had to deal with Justin Feinstein from California Institute of Technology. Patient under codename SM in the mid 80s of the last century was diagnosed with Urbach-Vite disease. It is very rare. genetic disorder: today everything is known all over the world about 300 cases of the disease. Among his symptoms are injuries. skin, as well as calcium deposits in the brain. As a result, this women the disease destroyed both the amygdala of the brain which associated with the emotional sphere. After that, SM completely disappeared a sense of fear, although otherwise her emotions have not undergone any changes. The woman turned to the neurologist Daniel’s laboratory Tranela from the University of Iowa and offered herself as an object for studying. She was very interested in the researchers, and with her was a number of tests have been carried out. It turned out that, oddly enough, lady, not experiencing fear, is extremely lively. For instance, once scientists invited her to dine in a restaurant, where she is very liked one waiter. The next day she again asked take her there too and was very glad to see her yesterday an acquaintance … At the same time, SM social behavior noticeably came out beyond the scope. For example, she lacked a sense of caution in chatting with strangers. “People you and I would think dark persons, she would call trustworthy, – comments neuroscientist Daniel Kennedy from Indiana University, which also participated in SM studies. – She is biased towards people in the sense that she wants to be with everyone get closer. “It is curious that the so-called” zone of personal space “(the zone within which a person experiences discomfort from the presence of other people), this woman was only 0.34 meters, while others have almost twice as much. Also SM couldn’t always read the expression on the faces of those around her: she was easy determined whether a person is happy or sad, but could not determine a sense of fear, although for others it was obvious. Clinical neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein tried to check whether still scare the subject with something. Horror movies no impressions on her did not make. In the store of exotic animals she tried to touch the tongue of the snake and stroke the tarantula. When the researcher took her to an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium Waverly Hills, where a horror ride worked for tourists, the woman only laughed while other visitors squealed from fear, seeing the “monsters” and hearing the “sounds of the other world.” A then … SM scared one of the disguised “monsters” out of curiosity touching his head. And yet Feinstein managed to scare “a woman devoid of feelings of fear.” SM partners in one of the experiments were twins AM and BG with identical lesions of the amygdala tel. All three were asked to wear masks in which air was supplied with 35 percent carbon dioxide content. Inhalation of this mixture causes shortness of breath, palpitations, increased sweating, dizziness, and about a quarter experience panic. Surprisingly, it worked. Moreover, all three experienced a state of panic. SM even waved her hands and, pointing to the mask, screamed: “Help!” When the masks were removed, she explained that she was afraid because she did not understand what is happening to her. Two others reacted similarly. subjects. The result of the experiment, undoubtedly, was to cause big doubts about the fact that it is the fear that is responsible amygdala. However Feinstein suggested that the brain is special handles “internal” threats, in particular those related to suffocate and other physical problems. “This is the primary layer, the basic form of fear, “- said the scientist. In his opinion, high carbon dioxide content changes the acidity of the blood, and here other centers of the brain are already involved, so for tonsil panic and not required. In favor of “liability” tonsils says the fact that not one of the war veterans during Traumatic brain injury in Vietnam damage to these parts of the brain (a total of 200 people were examined with TBI) did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Of of all this, we can conclude that in some situations the absence feelings of fear may be helpful, but in others it robs human instinct of self-preservation, and he is defenseless in the face of external danger. No wonder the aforementioned SM admitted: “I would not wish anyone like that.”

Irina Shlionskaya

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