Tag Archives: Scientific American Mind

The Limits of Anxiety

Sure, everyone feels anxious at one time or another. There are situations and people and behaviors we’re quite right to feel uneasy or apprehensive about for all kinds of reasons. But the three Thinking center types know and live with anxiety on a different, more fundamental, level since anxiety (fear without a focal point) is their primary issue. Types 5, 6, and 7 each have a different focus for their anxiety (they fear different things) and deal with it differently, but all of them live with it to one extent or another.

Fear is a reaction to a perceived threat. It signals us that we’re in danger so we can react to the threat and save ourselves. If we succeed in saving ourselves, we’re no longer afraid because the threat is over. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a chronic state of worry. There’s no specific action we can take to resolve it because there’s no clearly identifiable threat. It’s kind of an anti-survival mechanism because over the long haul it can have deadly consequences. Continue reading

Subliminal Persuasion?

We’re all exposed to a massive number of suggestions and influences from the environment every day. Yet we don’t all respond to them, and we don’t all react to them the same way. I may be influenced by something you don’t even register and vice versa. It’s obvious we aren’t merely passive receptors for whatever is going on around us. This is a subject that has fascinated me from early childhood and is one of the reasons I’m predisposed to be interested in things like the Enneagram, the MBTI, and various areas of psychology and neuroscience.

The May/June 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind includes an article titled, “The Subtle Power of Hidden Messages,” which isn’t about personality or temperament, per se, but still speaks to the issue of who responds to what stimuli—and when. The author’s conclusion was that, yes, subliminal messages or advertisements can influence our behavior. But they can’t actually cause us to do something we wouldn’t ordinarily do. They can’t brainwash us. They can’t redirect our will. We’re only susceptible to subliminal messages in certain limited situations: when we’re open to persuasion because of a particular need—i.e., we’re looking for something, whether or not we’re consciously aware of looking for it.

Thirst is an example of one such need we might not be consciously aware of or conscious of trying to fill. Continue reading