A Virus Called Fear

A Virus Called Fear

2012, Psychology  -   124 Comments
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Ratings: 7.00/10 from 410 users.

Rational fear can be a valuable cerebral response. It can protect us from harm, and render a positive influence on some of our most consequential decisions. But it can also be used as a weapon, and strangle our ability to interpret the world around us from a clear perspective. By understanding fear, however, we can empower ourselves to use it to our advantage and avoid falling under its potentially destructive spell.

Throughout its far too brief twenty minute running time, the documentary A Virus Called Fear seeks to reach this understanding with mixed results.

It's a huge subject to cram into such a short window, but the film benefits from a series of illuminating insights presented by several noted psychologists, as well as acclaimed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. These interview subjects tackle the fundamental questions behind the existence of fear and our responses to it.

Are we born with fear? Or is it a mechanism we develop over time based on our experiences? There's no doubt that a healthy amount of fear is essential in sharpening our survival instincts, but it can also lead to unfounded paranoia, irrational superstitions and a destructive us-versus-them mindset.

The film races through the early and influential behavioral studies of Dr. John Watson and Dr. B.F. Skinner. Their observations on the nature of fear continue to resonate today, and have defined our understanding of everything from child rearing techniques to the balance between risks and rewards. We're also given fleeting examples throughout history where the fears of many have been manipulated to advance the interests of the few. These include the skewed and sensationalized barrage of 24-hour media, the deceptive comforts of religion, the scourge of schoolyard bullying, and the horrifically effective powers of leaders like Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson and Jim Jones.

How do we work to overcome our fears, and relearn the behaviors which have conspired to limit our potential? These are the investigative strands that are most sadly absent from the film. A Virus Called Fear is polished and precise in its presentation, but it lacks the breadth that is clearly required of its fascinating and complicated themes.

Directed by: Ben Fama Jr.

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Yebfi
Yebfi
1 year ago

I hated the woman who kept talking about abuse and violence being perpetuated by men only when women are just, may be more abusive, towards children when these problems begin! Warped world view

jen
jen
3 years ago

HOW HAS THIS BEEN USED AGAINST US IN 2021

DustUp
DustUp
5 years ago

It seems there is a corollary or opposite to "irrational fear" which is "irrational acceptance" of things which are not proven or have already been disproved but apparently not widely known.

The lefties would jump all over in agreement with that and point to religion. Not so fast. In this day and age, I fear those who "irrationally accept" false and questionable information (major media, govt, and "scientific" propaganda) more than most things because they are allowed to vote my life into a living hell. All an overly religious person can do is either cause my to plug my ears ...or kill me. Which is worse, living under the thumb and dictates of some elitist forcing me to live how THEY think is best or to be put out of the incremental socialist misery I now live under which is most of the way to that socialist utopia already? Yet the Socialist sympathizers cannot see that fact that they are hating on what they want more of.

Here is your answer: Many people risk there lives to get away from such regimes in boats and smuggling. Yet you want such a regime. Brilliant.

Information from ANY source is or should be suspect. Unfortunately far too many put an exception to that for "evidence". So if a so called educated person provides evidence along with what they claim, then far too many people tend to believe the claims. Yet how good is the evidence? Laboratories used by Prosecutors have been found to fake the evidence. Global warming scientists were found to have pencil whipped the data. Scientists often just leave out data which doesn't agree with what they want to claim and publish. Meaning those who believe the claims are doing so ON FAITH, actually worse, they choose to believe proven LIES, while ridiculing a religious person's FAITH in what they believe. Hypocrites aplenty. Arrogant to boot.

The promoters of Socialism and Progressivism are taught to lie, lie, lie or their policies will be rejected. They are told by Alinsky and Marx writings that if they tell the truth the masses would never go for it. And rightly so! Socialists prefer to believe lies because of what they will gain: "free stuff" at someone else's expense. Basically robbing people via the govt. And for that they "irrationally believe" they hold the moral high ground. Laughable at best.

It seems Dawkins has a cult following of a fair percentage of the viewers of this website. However, it gives one hope for the world that at least a few can see that he sucked up an irrational fear of religion from his professors. He has no actual evidence for much of his claims and/or extrapolates what little evidence he has into oblivion. And people still listen ...because they prefer propaganda while arrogantly calling everyone else morons.

SELFISHNESS and EGO are the things humans should fear besides the things which can kill or injure them. Selfishness and Ego are the things which cause all the problems of the world. The lefties have it in spades while believing in their hearts that those who only want to be left alone but have been forced to stand up to conserve what little is left of the good things are evil. "Irrational acceptance" of Marxist propaganda is to be feared.

Please study the RESULTS of Marxism before you buy into what the professors and media pump into you constantly. They wouldn't need to push it if it were evident and true. Same as a drug pusher. Irrational acceptance of propaganda is to be feared and definitely not an irrational fear.

Arheddis Varkinjaab
Arheddis Varkinjaab
6 years ago

You should only fear things which are dangerous. That's what fear is for.
It has worked fantastically well to keep people away from trouble for probably millions of years. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Mex
Mex
6 years ago

Wow, what a terrible 'film' it's quite obvious he's a student filmmaker, I just hope he's improved since churning out this cliche ridden hack job.

rey
rey
6 years ago

'there is nothing fear' 'but fear itself' 'earlier proverb'

Kathy
Kathy
7 years ago

I found your descriptions and opinions of religion disturbing and without knowledge of theology. Your blanket comments show your lack of knowledge and your prejudice of God. Due to these 2 factors, you need to limit your comments to what you know as I do believe this was to be a documentary with truth.

Gerald M. Adams
Gerald M. Adams
7 years ago

This is a very interesting video. Fear is something that is innate in all of us, because we are born with the amygdala which processes the information we are in-taking from our external world. The stimulation will either trigger a fear response based off of a past experience which associated and compartmented danger and fear to whatever situation or stimulus that is. This is very helpful because the anti-virus is really looking back and reflecting on our experiences and asking ourselves questions like why do we have a phobia of this or dislike that, the learned behavior that is not suiting ones life can then be turned into something that is positive.

DustUp
DustUp
7 years ago

Comment on various above comments: Keep in mind, had the fellow in the mall shooting incident collected up the babies left by the loveless, it is a rational concern that those of irrational fear and minds over ridden by emotion and/or ego, would have very likely seen to it such a conscientious type be put in jail. Don't think so? How does one defend one's self from suppositions? You were planning to do horrible things or sell them weren't you? Prisons have plenty of considerate dads put there by selfish moms who want them out of the picture. I personally know of two. If you think they must be guilty because in prison, you would be sorely mistaken. The court system in usa and uk and likely others is as corrupt as Marxism is intellectually bankrupt (you cannot help people be all they can be by a govt agency picking the winners and losers via tests or cronyism, nor enslaving them to do the work you desire to have done; you cannot motivate people to be productive by stealing that productivity and giving it to the unproductive, which guarantees the system to fail eventually; ask why communists(the stated goal of socialism per Lenin) don't allow all their people to leave if they want to seek a better life elsewhere).

Love? Keep in mind that the englitch language failed miserably in not providing more words for the distinctly different concepts and aspects all wrongly grouped under one single word: love.

Compare: Agape, Phileo, Infatuation, Sex. Each are different things. Why refer to them all as "love"? Maybe there are more and better definitions in some other languages.

All I can reco to someone wanting to make a point about "the power of love" (which without any more detail than those 4 words ...also could be construed as the power to manipulate) versus hate or fear, may want to add some other definitions to that so the readers who have never experienced it or had it trained out of them, can understand, at least a little better.

Although it is technically true that a poet or songwriter may write a sorrow or complaint after a battle has been lost. The poem or writing can also arouse people to victory in the future or to remind of a valuable lesson.

In Dune, it was insightful that without change a person may get stuck in a rut. However, change for the sake of change is not always a good thing, as evidenced by the Duke and his concubine kinder witch mother to his son. It seemed to me that his "change" was that looking for more power and it cost him. No need to move lock, stock, and all the barrels to a new planet. Just follow the adventures of his scout and those commissioned after, like special forces to assist the freedom fighters. Or gain like minds all around to the point there is no point for the weasels to resist changing to a new decent paradigm. (No doubt that is what the marxists, socialists, communists, progressives, fascists, corporatists, etc. are trying to do, however, it should not be necessary to lie if it were moving to a good thing. Any of those, if they have actually studied it, know that it must be lied about or it will never happen. One could make the case in this day and age that people prefer to be lied to or they would turn off the boob tube.)

jake
jake
7 years ago

i too was afraid of the boogie man as child now as time went on this fear diminished. but alas i too am still have fear of spider crawlers

Trevor Eamer
Trevor Eamer
8 years ago

that poor watson kid
jesus

Lena
Lena
8 years ago

Scary to think, that in most cases fear is actually taught.

whoa3694
whoa3694
8 years ago

Outdated y boring.

bluetortilla
bluetortilla
9 years ago

Appearances by the pompous Dawkins (he is the real God in case you didn't know), cruel experiments with rats and babies (great, let's traumatize infants deliberately), pigeons taught parlor tricks by the warm-hearted behavioralist Skinner...Geez, I thought I'd get away with no Halloween this year but apparently not.

J.M.
J.M.
9 years ago

Totally boring and superficial documentary. It almost looked like those people only delighted in "listening to themselves speak". Moving on.

Rika Blythe Milten
Rika Blythe Milten
9 years ago

A decent primer for anyone who is new to the subject. If I'd seen this when I was in high school, I think it would have inspired me to learn more about it.

bunbun
bunbun
9 years ago

This is a sloppy and inaccurate documentary. To glibly reduce the Jonestown massacre to "909 people commit suicide" just to make a point about fear driven behavior is lazy. At least 100 of that 909 were children below the age of reason (7) who could not have known what was happening. Close to another 200 were below the age of 18. The Guyanese coroner observed numerous gunshot wounds and syringe marks, suggesting those who resisted were forcibly injected or just shot. The notorious death tapes clearly show people resisted. Jones' own wife fought viciously to stop the children from being poisoned and only "drank the kool-aid" after she had failed to save them. Even the people who drank the poisoned punch without much resistance knew the alternative was to die at the hands of the armed guards as there was literally no where to run. The massacre wasn't even discovered until days later because the location of Jonestown was purposefully remote to prevent defection. I understand the nuances of such a brutal occurrence cannot be fully honored in a short form doc, but what was even the point of bringing up Jonestown? Or Waco or Heaven's Gate, for that matter. It gave nothing to the larger thesis and has only made me question the accuracy of assertions made in the rest of the film.

Not worth the 20 minutes. Never trust a documentarian who spends the first few minutes mugging for the camera and patting themselves on the back for making the film in the first place (unless it's Werner Herzog. He owns that shit.).

Eric
Eric
10 years ago

Indeed, a superficial documentary, which never really goes beyond the bleeding obvious. Biologists speculating on psychology using ideas that were already considered superficial 100 year ago...

Andy O'Piffel
Andy O'Piffel
10 years ago

I think this documentary is very superficial and quite biased, I see there were some good issues pointed out already in the comments, but I'd like to add that in order to at least try to understand a particular topic, especially one so complex, you shoud reach beyond your inclinations or theories and keep an objective and open mind. You might find great insight through researching different fields or even the ''preposterous'' ideas. You cannot simply look for facts and opinions that support your beliefs, It is not the way of progress.

Keith Steward
Keith Steward
10 years ago

I used to have a fear dead things, animals, people etc. I took over it by forcing myself to look at them in all states of decay. I would try to figure what all the body parts and organs were. It was for survival. I had to walk for miles each day for work and there dead animals along the roadside regularly I could not avoid. It worked. Just face your fears.

benjy
benjy
10 years ago

great Ben!! Not many people think about this at such an intellectual and deep level. Some would avoid it unconsciously because it would mean having to reconstruct their entire life. A task beyond asking of anyone??
I loved it and in my opinion it is spot on.

rich
rich
10 years ago

fear of government is a correct fear. programming people with an anti-fear, seems very similar to brave new world scenario.

Nighthalk
Nighthalk
10 years ago

nothing new.. very superficial

Roy
Roy
10 years ago

The audio of this was so poorly mixed. Seriously, I watched that whole thing, all I took from it was that someone decided the audio for this documentary was not important.

MirjamUrfer
MirjamUrfer
10 years ago

I find it rather annoying that some people consistently have to turn the subject of fear into anti-religious and anti-media propaganda. There was very little valuable information one could extract from this video and at no point was there any proper reference to all the computing analogies they made in their very tantalising sounding titles. That ignorance causes fear is certainly true, but it is an illusion to think that fear goes away if we just start to inform ourselves about things. Some things are really terrible and knowing the ins and outs of them won't chase away the fear.

MirjamUrfer
MirjamUrfer
10 years ago

And the No-Shit-Sherlock Award goes to...

texshelters
texshelters
10 years ago

Well done; however, I wanted more.

PTxS

güzela?k
güzela?k
10 years ago

Perhaps there is no right or wrong. Given that we all have fears and bias. That is the '' point '' of this documentary, to help us cogitate and/or help ourselves? Given that we all have '' free will '',to make an informative choice to better ourselves, and therefore break a destructive cycle. We all know the answer to our own personal fear/s. Conquer them all with Love and understanding :) Thank you to anyone who can help us with insights into freeing us from negative and/or destructive behaviours.

Fabio Valenti
Fabio Valenti
10 years ago

Interesting how immediately after making reference to Islamic religion the next chapter makes explicit analogy to terrorism through its title about hijacking and terrorism and its shots of a city skyline, an obvious reference to 9/11 in keeping with the theme of fear. Well directed.

Javier Alvarez
Javier Alvarez
11 years ago

Why English people drop those irritating intrusve r's? Dawkins said "praying towards Mecca*r* one day, or whatever it is". They usually drop it after idea, hey say "great idear".

Anyway, what's wrong with praying to Mecca*r* ? This guy came up as such a condescending twit that is hard to take him seriously.

And last but not least, good documentary, but seriously, the only thing they come up with is "awareness"?

sknb
sknb
11 years ago

My anti- virus is elimination of most media.

The media has been telling me I am ugly and worthless because of my body since I was born. It tells me to constantly be in fear and consistently makes me hate myself by comparing my life and my body with others.

Starting on February 1st my 6 month test will begin. No more television, no more internet (except for work). No Netflix, movies, and sadly, no more Top Doc. com.

I am curious to how this will work out. I'll come back in August and let you know how it worked out.

glfossil
glfossil
11 years ago

EVERYONE has a fear of some kind. fear can also be catgorized as a worry or panick or shock. You experience these feelings when you have fear. GOOD DOCUMENTARY fear senses up to act when in life or death situations. Recognizing things that can kill you and avoiding them is fear, but facing things that you know will kill you is courage. Fears hard to explain but most people are afraid of death or what will happen after death. What we dont know we often fear, and what we dont know usually relates back to our creator in some way. My only fear is dying alone, what is yours?

Mike Mathwig
Mike Mathwig
11 years ago

As the guy who made the doc says in his comment on this thread, "awareness" is the bare bones begining of any understanding of the dynamics of fear, or re-directing it when it is unconstructive. That takes patient, repetitive pratice. It also helps gogs to turn off the T V while doing it.

Nicole Elizabeth
Nicole Elizabeth
11 years ago

Considering it is believed that public speaking is the number one fear. I believe that fear is simply something in people's mind for them to blame reactions on when they jump the gun and pain is more of a survival tool. The thought and belief of being in pain, what might cause pain and how they avoid it are the actions which assist in ones survival.

macsix87
macsix87
11 years ago

touche on the explanation that hell is a greater fear than death but it only applies to catholics because protestants have the assurance of salvation (lol)

Summer Samuels
Summer Samuels
11 years ago

Dont watch.. this is a NLP capsule..

Nicola-Jane Wiseman
Nicola-Jane Wiseman
11 years ago

I gotta love Dawkins, he never misses a beat when getting digs in about religion. Top man.

Mom
Mom
11 years ago

These kinds of wannabe "professors" like Dawkins, are out to make a name for themselves, just as was Jim Jones and his kool aid drinkers, and Osama and his Taliban. They promote fear in their true believers that they may be right, and there is no hope but in Richard Dawkins and his gang of renowned BS blatherers, instead of encouraging people to research the systems they decide to listen to, and to avoid the money merchants and power seekers. But the professor is looking for his own narcissistic power over your mind.
The idea is that we ordinary folks don't have the intellectual capability to look for ourselves? and so we need the "professor" to lean on? hmmmm! esp if we are willing to donate to his movement.

Melissa De Irisarri
Melissa De Irisarri
11 years ago

Furps didn't quite catch it. Wow.

Furps
Furps
11 years ago

what is the point in this documentary? i watched the first 10 minutes, basically 2 women going in circles rephrasing what they've said over and over again pointing out THE most obvious s*** you can think of (yes, we are afraid of heights, because heights can kill you)

lemme save somebody 20 minutes of wasted time by summarizing the entire documentary: we are afraid of things that can kill us in order to survive. that's it, they just tried to elaborate the f--k out of it and stretch that sentence into a 20min doc

the uploaded also disabled comments on youtube, that is automatic downrate due to censorship.

Max Collodi
Max Collodi
11 years ago

Thank you , brief but to the point. I wish the psychologist would give it a rest though, at least some of the world is finally waking up to the fact that much of their observation and so called associative behaviour is flawed , as its based on clinical data rather than epidemiological studies. millions of people around the world observed violence growing up and lived in fearful situations, most of us just go over it , and the rest provided a good living to psychologist , psychiatrist , and countless other medical professionals who have invented their own brand of perceptual manipulation

Leo
Leo
11 years ago

I don`t like that pseudo-scientist Dr. Richard Dawking, and iam not going to lose my time going to look for his bio, but it too much of ignorance not to be recognised.
What leads people to religion is the question of the meaning. To put all religions on the same bag and call it superstition is ignorance.
The worst ignorance is to deny something from which one has no knowledge about.

kaitse8
kaitse8
11 years ago

"You can't live in fear" LOL

David Foster
David Foster
11 years ago

"Terrorism"... I've always loved that word. "The profession of causing others to live in fear". Any guesses as to whom that might apply to?

KsDevil
KsDevil
11 years ago

All this discussion with only a 20 minute documentary. Clearly there is a great deal of interest in expantion on this subject.
It seems to me, people who quickly run from fear are often unprepared for it dispite any biological process while those who delay their escape for analysis are more prepared. So, conditioning is definatly a factor in humans.
But does watching the evening news prepare you or does it placate you? I am guessing the evening news externalizes fear making all the death and violence seem unreal to people who experience a contunued stable environment.
Conflict becomes a spectator sport but when it suddenly becomes real, unprepared people fall victims to their basic animal instinct.

M A
M A
11 years ago

Very good! I'll admit that I was tempted to stop watching after a few minutes just because I felt the film was harping on the instinctual/survival purpose of fear, and thought "well, this is nothing new". But I soon saw that this is a fairly concise film on fear and all of it's implications in our society. And well, frankly I'm a fan of anyone who steps up to say that religion and belief at it's very base is meant to comfort fear of the unknown through inane repetition of various superstitions...

Ben Fama Jr.
Ben Fama Jr.
11 years ago

I just want to say thanks to everyone here for your thoughts and inputs. It means a lot to me. I have been coming to this website for years to watch some kick *** docs, so having mine here is actually an honor and a privilege. I know a lot of people have been asking about the 20 minute limit on my film. This is my student thesis final for the film school I have just graduated from. All of our films are required to be 20 minutes and under. So it was very difficult to condense a ****load of info into such a short time. I am talking with some people right now about expanding this film because there is so much more I wanted to explore, and now that I am out of school, I can do that. I also know that it might seem like a simple "awareness" was the answer to the film, but in reality it was just the beginning. Being aware of the information your mind is receiving, or even being aware of the thoughts you tell yourself I think is more of a first step on a journey. I love the **** out of documentaries, and I hope to learn more **** along the way as I make them. I also love psychology, philosophy and sociology, so it's like having your cake and eating it too. Thanks again. And thanks to TopDocs for showcasing my documentary short here. I have watched so many docs here, and I continue to come here to be inspired and let my mind get blown by some great content. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Paula57
Paula57
11 years ago

Good job Ben. I agree with Paul. I could definitely see this being expanded. An interesting tidbit; the brains of conservative people have larger amygdalas, the fear center, than the brains of more liberal people. It's not surprising that conservatives are generally more religious. Religion is a very human answer to fear. I would disagree with the psychologist and sociologist though. I don't think simple awareness is enough to conquer an illogical fear. People like to think their way is the right way. No one wants to admit they were wrong, even if how they're thinking is illogical.

Paul MacLeod
Paul MacLeod
11 years ago

Thought this doc was going to be longer than 20 minutes! Expected it to be in multiple parts, seeing as its on Youtube, and was disappointed when it finished so quickly. Guess I should've read the text at the top a bit better. :S

And yes I am a Dune fan and have come to the conclusion that everyone in the Dune saga, except one, is a total, complete and utter SMEGHEADS! The only exception being Duke Leto Atredies.
In Shai-Hulud's name, No! I didn't write the Litany against Fear, that was Frank Herberts doing. I quoted it because I thought it was perfect for the topic being discussed in the doc'. Its helped me, you guessed it Az, face my fears one at a time, that and another philosophy I adopted has also helped me face my fear and that is simply, DON'T PANIC! (would write it in large friendly letters but can't I'm afraid)

PS - Know where your towel is! ;D

deskplant
deskplant
11 years ago

Great documentary. Fear and aggression are easier for many people than love and peace. When measuring the brain's energy waves it's known that peacefulness makes long flat waves whereas fear makes short waves with high spikes. Religion is a classic encourager of fear. Fear of God, fear he'll hate your humanness and in particular your womanliness. Religions give Religious Authority to their followers to hate non-believers or those who don't conform and inflict all sorts of punishments and death. It's a never ending circle of fear generation. In Catholicism you can get forgiveness not because you love God but because you're afraid of Him through Imperfect Contrition (Attrition). It's all sad really.