“How Fear Can Skew Spatial Perception”

Dr. Michael LaitmanIn the News (from ScienceDaily): “That snake heading towards you may be further away than it appears. Fear can skew our perception of approaching objects, causing us to underestimate the distance of a threatening one, finds a study published in Current Biology.

“’Our results show that emotion and perception are not fully dissociable in the mind,’ says Emory psychologist Stella Lourenco, co-author of the study. ‘Fear can alter even basic aspects of how we perceive the world around us. This has clear implications for understanding clinical phobias.’ …

“People generally have a well-developed sense for when objects heading towards them will make contact, including a split-second cushion for dodging or blocking the object, if necessary. The researchers set up an experiment to test the effect of fear on the accuracy of that skill. …

“The participants tended to underestimate the collision time for images of threatening objects, such as a snake or spider, as compared to non-threatening images, such as a rabbit or butterfly.

The results challenge the traditional view of looming, as a purely optical cue to object approach. “’We’re showing that what the object is affects how we perceive looming. If we’re afraid of something, we perceive it as making contact sooner,’ Longo says.

“’Even more striking,’ Lourenco adds, ‘it is possible to predict how much a participant will underestimate the collision time of an object by assessing the amount of fear they have for that object. The more fearful someone reported feeling of spiders, for example, the more they underestimated time-to-collision for a looming spider. That makes adaptive sense: If an object is dangerous, it’s better to swerve a half-second too soon than a half-second too late.’”

My Comment: Feeling stems from the desire to get pleasure; this is our essence, and that is why the space that we feel is a function of our relation to it, to what we find in it. We see only what we want to see either because of joy or because of fear. If the object does not make any impression on us, we do not see it. The other sense organs function likewise. It is only through the additional opportunity of relating to the world through the property of bestowal that we reveal an additional part of the world—the upper world, the opposite of ours.

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