Woman Born Without Ability to Feel Fear


Everybody's afraid of something, right? Everybody, except for a woman known only as SM. She had an extremely rare condition that's destroyed the fear center in her brain ... and now she's scared of nothing.

Sounds fun, right? Researchers have been following her for more than 20 years and have tried all kinds of things with her ... watching scary movies, going to a haunted house (which she called exciting, like riding a roller coaster), and even taking her to a pet store to hold big snakes. They actually made her leave when she went to go pet a tarantula.  And think about all the stuff she can do because she isn't ever scared ... skydive, climb mountains, mix stripes and patterns ...

But the fact is, our fear response is key to keeping us alive and safe.

Think about it; fear keeps you from walking into traffic or talking to sketchy strangers. SM narrowly escaped death when someone attacked her on a park bench. He'd called over to her and she just walked right to him, and didn't even flinch when he held a knife to her throat.

Think about driving, for example. If you suddenly realize you're tearing down the road, you'll instinctively slow down out of fear of an accident (or a ticket). If you had no fear, your only reaction would be "whee!" Or imagine the way a toddler will head right for the treacherous stairs, or march right up to a strange dog; it's because their fear reactions haven't fully developed yet.

In other words, fear gets a bad rap. It can hold you back when it's excessive or irrational, like with a phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder. But most of the time, being a big wussy wuss will save your life.


Image via Marco Gomes/Flickr

emotional health, general health


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Pishyah Pishyah

I wonder if I can have a procedure done to kind of cut mine in half...

wills... willswifey

Um no, common sense keeps you from walking out in traffic. She's had plenty of time to learn what can hurt her and what can't.

Evilf... Evilfelly07

well im a huge wuss LOL but ive never broken a bone. =/ knock on wood

Stamp... StampOlicious

Does not fearing also mean not having common sense? Because walking out into traffic, or driving wrecklessly, or walking up to a stranger is common sense. I don't think it has anything to do with fear.

Warri... WarriorsWife523

Fear is part of what gives us common sense. If I weren't afraid of anything bad happening to me, I would walk down the dark alley on my way home from my night class. If you aren't afraid of it, it doesn't seem like common sense.

I wonder how those things are exciting without fear, though. Adrenaline is what makes things like rollercoasters, haunted houses, and skydiving exciting.


Hmmm... Interesting! Maybe I have the same "problem". I walked up to a friends house one time and someone she knew that didn't know me came running out of her house with a loaded gun and pressed the gun to my forehead. I didn't move, didn't feel anything. Then, I turned my head just enough to look into his eyes. He jumped back and put the gun down. I just walked by into the house. There isn't much that I'm afraid of if anything but I still have common sense for the most part. Like I know not to walk into a street without looking first, thanks to my moms training, but I wouldn't feel afraid if I did and there was a car coming. I scared my mom a lot when I was a kid. But I know not to do things that might hurt me or someone else even if I'm not afraid.

jsu1667k jsu1667k

Hey, bet this will be a House episode in the next couple of seasons!


Pagan... PaganMommy04

@jsu1667k I would watch that episode! :-)

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Yes, but what would the absence of fear be a symptom of???......let's run the differential!!!!!  Love that show!

Madel... MadelynMc

House did a similar episode where a little girl was incapable of feeling pain. She was a foster child and kept getting passed around because no one could believe that her adoptive parents weren't abusing her with all of the injuries she ended up with. Anyway, this is very interesting!

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