View Full Version : The woman who feels no fear

Lara Croft!
18-12-10, 12:45
A 44-year-old woman who doesn't experience fear has led to the discovery of where that fright factor lives in the human brain.
Researchers put out their best foot to try to scare the patient, who they refer to as "SM" in their write-up in the most recent issue of the journal Current Biology. Haunted houses, where monsters tried to evoke an avoidance reaction, instead evoked curiosity; spiders and snakes didn't do the trick; and a battery of scary film clips entertained SM.

The patient has a rare condition called Urbach–Wiethe disease that has destroyed her amygdala, the almond-shaped structure located deep in the brain. Over the past 50 years studies have shown the amygdala plays a central role in generating fear responses in various animals from rats to monkeys.
The new study involving SM is the first to confirm that brain region is also responsible for experiencing fear in humans. "This is the first study to systematically investigate the experience or feeling of fear in humans with amygdala damage," lead author Justin Feinstein told LiveScience.
The finding, the researchers say, could lead to treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers and others. "My hope is to expand on this work and search for psychotherapy treatments that selectively target and dampen down hyperactivity in the amygdala of patients with PTSD," said Feinstein, who is a doctoral student studying clinical neuropsychology at the University of Iowa.

Over the past year, Feinstein has been treating PTSD in veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, seeing first-hand the effects.
"Their lives are marred by fear, and they are oftentimes unable to even leave their home due to the ever-present feeling of danger," Feinstein said. In contrast, SM is immune to this stress. "Traumatic events leave no emotional imprint on her brain," he said.

Are you scared?
Previous studies with this patient revealed she can't recognize fear in facial expressions, but it was unknown if she had the ability to experience fear herself.
To find out, Feinstein and his colleagues measured the patient's experience of fear with several standardized questionnaires that probed different aspects of fear, ranging from the fear of death to the fear of public speaking. [ Fear of Spiders & 9 Other Phobias ]
In addition, for three months SM carried a computerized emotion diary that randomly asked her to rate her current fear level throughout the day. The diary also had her indicate emotions she was feeling from a list of 50 items. Her average score of fear was 0 percent, while for other emotions she showed normal functioning.
Across all of the scenarios, she showed no fear. Looking into her past, the researchers found lots of reasons for her to react with fear. In fact, she told them she didn't like snakes, but when brought into contact with the two characters, she was fearless.
The good and bad of being fearless
Her eldest son (she has three children) in his early 20s recalls this instance: "Me and my brothers were playing in the yard and mom was outside sitting on the porch. All of a sudden we see this snake on the road. It was a one lane road, and seriously, it touched from one end of the yard all the way to the other side of the road. I was like, 'Holy cow, that's a big snake! ' Well mom just ran over there and picked it up and brought it out of the street, put it in the grass and let it go on its way…"
That's not all. She has been held up at knife point and at gun point, physically accosted by a woman twice her size, nearly killed in an act of domestic violence, and on more than one occasion explicitly threatened with death, the researchers wrote in the journal article. Police reports corroborated these experiences and revealed the poverty-stricken area where she lived. SM has never been convicted of a crime.

"What stands out most is that, in many of these situations, SM's life was in danger, yet her behavior lacked any sense of desperation or urgency," the researchers wrote.
And when she was asked to recollect how she felt during those situations, SM said she didn't feel fear but did feel upset and angry about what happened. "Without fear, it can be said that SM's distress lacks the deep heartfelt intensity endured by most survivors of trauma," the researchers wrote.
Essentially, due to the amygdala damage the woman is "immune to the devastating effects of posttraumatic stress disorder," they wrote.
As always, there are tradeoffs as such an inability to detect and avoid threatening situations likely contributed to the frequency with which she's had life-threatening run-ins, the researchers suggest.
To firm up the phenomenon, Feinstein says studying other patients with damaged amygdalas would be great. "Unfortunately, such patients are so rare that it is nearly impossible to find them," he said, adding that there is much to be learned from a single patient.
The National Institutes of Health and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship provided funding for the study.

source (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40702031/ns/health-womens_health/)

cezy rockeru
18-12-10, 12:47
Is her name Lara Croft?:D

18-12-10, 12:48
I would love to feel no fear. But then again that could be bad...

18-12-10, 12:49
If she has children, then that's going to be a problem....

18-12-10, 12:52
I thought this thread was going to talk about Lara. :p

Wow I've never heard of such a thing, I guess it would have its ups and downs.

18-12-10, 14:16
Is her name Lara Croft?:D

My first reaction to the title of the thread :vlol: , though she seems to fear sometimes.

I'd like not to be able to feel fear, so long as that desease on my amygdala wouldn't cause any side effects

18-12-10, 15:37
No fun in watching horror films then :pi:

18-12-10, 15:54
Is her name Lara Croft?:D

I was just thinking that :vlol:
Anyway, that's rather interesting.

18-12-10, 15:55
If she has children, then that's going to be a problem....


Wow, I'm surprised she's reached the age she is having no fear and stuff.

18-12-10, 16:00
A bit scary if you ask me...

lord gaga
18-12-10, 16:51
Is her name Lara Croft?:D

Actully Core lara not CD lara!:ton:

18-12-10, 16:52
^ right ;)

I thought of TR when I saw the article too - we're all obsessed :o

Chocola teapot
18-12-10, 16:55
Lucky *****.

18-12-10, 17:50

Melonie Tomb Raider
18-12-10, 20:23
Perhaps some of these psychopathic serial killers have the same condition? That would explain how it would be easier for them to do such brutal things to people knowing that they are scared out of their wits.

I wonder...

18-12-10, 20:37
Is her name Lara Croft?:D

Lara's a lesbian D:

18-12-10, 20:43
A bit scary if you ask me...

my thoughts exactly...

18-12-10, 20:49
Fear keeps us alive

so i think it would be awful to have this

18-12-10, 21:32
That's a scary story bro...

18-12-10, 22:09
Nothing is exciting then if you're not afraid to do some things. :pi: I am not impressed. :p

18-12-10, 22:39
She clearly hasn't encountered black liquorice, old people, or babies in costume. Is it a baby... or a snail?!

Anniversary Lara
18-12-10, 22:54
I hope scientists are going to find a remedy with this kind of knowlegde to help patients with anxiety disorders.

19-12-10, 05:55
There is also a book called fearless where the protagonist cannot feel fear. Huge problems indeed....

19-12-10, 13:50
Would be cool if we could switch off certain parts of the brain at will and turn other parts on like that.
Turn off fear and turn on extra strength :p
turn on creativity would be the one for me

19-12-10, 13:53
definitely not a good thing to have no fear at all...what if she decides to go off a cliff just for the lulz?:p

Lizard of Oz
19-12-10, 21:27
WOah, I'd love to her. As long as someone watched over me all the time :vlol: