A personal story about not only facing but conquering fears in the wake personal grief, with a deep dive into the surprisingly liberating science of fear.
In 2015, Eva Holland was forced to confront her greatest fear when her mother unexpectedly had a stroke and suddenly passed away. After the shock and grief subsided, Holland became aware of the freedom that facing your greatest fear can grant. She began to examine the extent to which her fears have limited her in the past, and wondered whether or not is was possible to move past them.
This set Holland on a deep dive into the science of fear, digging into an array of universal and personal questions: Why do we feel fear? Where do phobias come from and how are they related to anxiety disorders? Does her fear of heights have something to do with the fact that she can’t dance? (Surprisingly, yes.) Can you really smell fear? (Yes again.) Why does fear seem to spread through groups and crowds like an airborne virus, making everyone it touches feel less safe? And, perhaps most importantly, is there a cure for fear, and if so, is “facing our fears” really that cure?
On her journey, Holland meets with scientists who are developing a pill to eliminate the fear associated with traumatic memories, she seeks out the few individuals who suffer from a rare disease that prevents them from ever feeling fear, and she immerses herself in her own fears including hurling herself out of a plane for her first skydive (and in the process, learning that there are right and wrong ways to face your fears).
Fear is a universal human experience, and at a moment when people’s fears are driving the public discourse more nakedly than they have in decades, Nerve answers these questions in a refreshingly accessible way, offering readers an often personal, sometimes funny, and always rigorously researched journey through the science of facing our fears.
About the Author:
Eva Holland is a freelance writer based in Canada’s Yukon Territory. She specializes in narrative feature stories and has written about everything from climate change to extreme sports, from a world-champion competitive birder to a murder-plotting Alaskan militia leader. She is currently a correspondent at the magazine Outside, and has had her work published in Pacific Standard, National Geographic News, The Walrus, Hazlitt, and many more. She has forthcoming features in WIRED and Bloomburg Businessweek. When she’s not writing, Eva can be found travelling and not jumping out of planes.