Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear

Experiment. Apr. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781615196005. $24.95. SCI
Fear is essential for human survival, acknowledges Outdoor correspondent Holland, but when her anxieties began seriously to inhibit her life, the author decided to conduct an in-depth exploration of the science of fear in an attempt to conquer her own. Here Holland examines phobias, trauma, and existential fears. Each category is meaningful for Holland, as she has a fear of heights, fear of driving after a series of car accidents, and a life-long fear of losing her mother (which sadly came to pass). Holland walks readers through the science behind this emotion, specifically what happens in the brain during an terrifying experience. She also deciphers much of the research aimed at helping people overcome their feelings of dread. Using herself as a guinea pig, Holland explored various treatment paths, including exposure therapy and other clinical and pharmaceutical approaches.
VERDICT Combining anecdotes that document her personal vulnerabilities with tales of outdoor adventure and just enough scientific research, Holland crafts an engaging and unique memoir. Fans of the self-help genre and popular science in the style of Mary Roach will enjoy this debut title.

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