Caged Rats

A friend of mine at the University of Hawaii taught me something important about fear. He is a professor of psychology. His primary research interest was the brain. He wanted to know which part of the brain was activated by certain stimuli. He also did behavioral experiments on rats.  He was studying fear responses in rats. He said that when you went after a caged rat with the point of a stick, it would run away or defend itself. But when you ran an electric current through the wire mesh of the cage, the rat would receive a shock.

The rat did not defend itself, because it could not identify the source of the threat. Wherever it ran in the cage, even if it hung from the roof, it would continue to receive the shock. Neither fight nor fight worked, so the rat froze.

My friend’s theory was that when we don’t know from where or when or how a threat is coming, we freeze up and stop thinking. We become mentally, emotionally and even morally paralyzed.

 

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