Psychology in bigfooting – FEAR

There is an adage that comes up regularly in bigfooting… “When you look for bigfoot, you find yourself.” The longer I pursue this subject, the more truth I find in that statement. Human psychology plays a pivotal role in our interaction with this subject. (Once again, I find myself staring at a blinking cursor, trying to figure out how to address a topic that is too complex for a single blog post. This will most likely develop into another one of those multi-part blog series.)

Today, I want to talk about fear.

Wikipedia defines fear as “ a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat.” The second-to-the-last word in that sentence is key: “Perceived”. We feel fear when we are in danger. We also feel fear when we perceive that we are in danger, whether we really are or not. That is an important distinction because fear is a powerful emotion that causes us to react in real ways, whether the thing we fear is real or not.

Fear has a powerful impact on human relationships. When we interact in a healthy way with the world around us – situations we find ourselves in or people we interact with – we could say that we function well. The opposite of that is DYSFUNCTION.

FEAR IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL (DYSFUNCTION) IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS.

Fear causes humans to do terrible things. It is the reason we go to war and is the underlying source of dysfunction in interpersonal relationships. It is the cause of greed (fear of poverty), it is the reason people lie (fear of the consequences that come with honesty), it is the reason people cheat on a  spouse (fear of feeling unattractive) and the reason people try to control one another. Fear is the primary emotion behind secondary emotions such as jealousy, anger, insecurity, intolerance, distrust, hate, arrogance… if it’s a negative feeling or behavior, you’ll find fear behind it.

In case you question the truth of that statement, let’s do an exercise. Please humor me and try this:

Think of a situation that made you feel angry.

Describe the situation briefly. Perhaps someone cut you off on the freeway. Maybe a coworker didn’t invite you to a group lunch. Or you saw your significant other being a little too “friendly” with someone of the opposite sex. Maybe a friend said something behind your back. Or someone on an online forum pissed you off.

Describe the emotions you felt. Were you angry? Hurt? Jealous?

How did you react? Honestly. Did you yell? Sulk? Flip the guy off on the freeway who cut you off? Get snippy and short with your significant other? Withdraw from your coworker? Give your friend the silent treatment?

Finally, try to identify what it was you were AFRAID of. What did you FEAR in that situation? If someone cut you off on the freeway, did you feel afraid because they endangered you? If you weren’t invited to lunch, did you feel afraid that maybe you were being excluded intentionally? Did that person in the forum make you feel afraid that you looked stupid for what you said?

If you wish to share your answers or reactions in the comments section below, please do.

Everyone behaves “dysfunctionally” sometimes. In other words, everyone has knee-jerk reactions to perceived fears that perhaps don’t coincide with the actual level of danger. Our awareness of our fears and corresponding emotions, our ability to manage those successfully, and our ability to address them directly with one another using healthy interpersonal communication skills all play a part in how functional or dysfunctional we are in our dealings with ourselves and the people around us. The less aware we are of our fears and our unconscious reactions to them, the more they manifest in our lives in the form of dysfunction. Those who are the least aware of their dysfunction tend to broadcast it loudest in their interpersonal reactions and they are likely oblivious to it. That’s the key to dysfunction: it stems from fear and a lack of self-awareness. Those who are self-aware tend  to see fear and dysfunction more clearly – in both themselves and in others.

Some fear is natural, healthy and helpful. You wouldn’t stand still if a semi-truck was barreling down on you. You wouldn’t stay in a relationship with an abusive individual. You wouldn’t walk up to a snarling dog and pet it. None of those reactions are dysfunctional. They’re healthy reactions to a real threat. But awareness of fear and our ability to determine which fears we have are REAL and which ones are simply PERCEIVED allows us to keep ourselves safe from real danger and minimize our dysfunctional reactions to “threats” which are only perceived.

In the bigfoot community, especially on online forums, I see truckloads of dysfunction  -  perceived fear manifesting in ugly reactions. Arrogance, sarcasm, sniping, backbiting, ridicule, threats, shaming, bruised egos, arrogance, arrogance… did I mention arrogance? ;)… Personalities posturing for a position of relevance, feeling threatened by something someone said, cutting down another’s contributions, in-fighting, arguing publicly and attempting to shame one another in front of peers, disregarding the feelings of witnesses or ridiculing them while wanting their “best” evidence, getting angry over perceived slights… Fear of someone else being right, fear of someone else being more popular,  fear of being irrelevant,  fear of others “damaging the credibility of the field” (in other words, “making me look like an ass…”), fear of being attacked (so people go on the offensive and attack first), fear of someone else being “first” or “better”, fear of being excluded, fear that someone else might actually be the one to solve the mystery or that it might never be solved at all…

Fear directs many interactions in the bigfoot community, because fear directs many things in our lives when we’re unaware of it… and many people are. I want to say that again because it’s important: People, for the most part, live unconsciously in fear. Our interactions with others in the bigfoot community are natural reflection of how we, as individuals, interact with fear in our personal lives. And it is exacerbated online. The internet is a sadly dehumanizing force in our lives; the people on the other end of the line are less real somehow. The whisper of our dysfunction is magnified to a deafening roar when we remove the accountability that goes with face-to-face interaction and hide behind keyboards and computer screens, nursing our fears, holding our grudges, licking the wounds of our damaged egos and gearing up for the next assault on that faceless username which threatened and frightened us.

Some react by bombarding others with intellect, not realizing that  IQ doesn’t make a bit of difference, because the EQ (emotional quotient or emotional intelligence level) is the same. Those with expansive vocabularies smite their enemies with wordy, gleeful arrogance, but their reactions are no less dysfunctional than the guy who can’t spell worth a crap and resorts to name-calling or threats of physical violence. It’s all a reaction to fear.

So what does this have to do with bigfoot?

Just as we bring our personal fears and dysfunctions into play when we interact with others in the bigfoot community, we also bring them into our relationship with the subject… and the Sasquatches themselves, if we are out in the field. You can’t leave your personality at home. I’ve personally known witnesses who feared continuing ridicule and began changing their interactions within their habituation as a result in order to attempt to gather “proof” – to the detriment of the habituation and the relationship they had carefully cultivated. I’ve known researchers to commit egregious acts toward Sasquatches in an attempt to prove that they are “right” and that Sasquatch does, in fact, exist. It’s all based in fear.

Fear is the root of dysfunctional behavior and when we feel fear we usually try to gain control of the situation. The Big Guys don’t appear to like that very much. And who would? How would we react if someone approached us and attempted to have a controlling, dysfunctional relationship with us?

We’ll talk about that in the next blog post.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for reading!

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. Linda Sedlak
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Well said, well thought out, and totally true. Thank you!

  2. Jonathan B
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree more, i have looked deep into this and you’re right on the head of the nail, nothing more needs to be said except that this was written AMAZINGLY good and i very much enjoyed your enlightenment!

  3. Jim in St. Paul
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I like where this is going, Autumn! All well said and relevant to any interactions with The Big Guys.

    Who we ARE in the field is critically important. From what I gather, we need to be open and relaxed as possible for good things to happen. The more we bring our dysfunction to the experience with them (or any other living thing actually) the less likely we are going to have a “good” experience, which can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy that can quickly spin into distorted perceptions, negative beliefs and bad attitudes about The Big Guys (or any subject in question). In other words, we reap what we sow.

  4. Dave
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Speaking of fear, I just finished Darin Richardson’s book. You are the friend(Autumn)that he called during the encounter above the ravine? Great read and tell him if he ever wants to do a reanactment at Menassas he can crash in a guest room here, I would love to hear the story first hand!

  5. Tom
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    That’s good insight.

    I’ve often thought that, from watching the behavior of “famous” bigfooters and the vitriolic online interaction in (public) bigfoot forums that “bigfootery” seemed to appeal to particularly pathological personalities.

    You make me wonder, though, if instead they’re otherwise normal people reacting from insecurity, from fear of ridicule, of disapproval from family, friends, co-workers because of the “sketchy” image of interest in bigfoot.

    I have noticed that regardless of topic, PUBLIC forums are less polite than PRIVATE forums. Not just bigfoot, this is true for firearms topics, property rights, and other things. It could be that the sense of being within a community of like minded people, even if you actually disagree, reduces the sense of need to “prove ourselves” and allows for more open discussion and less sense of threat when someone disagrees.

    Thanks for more food for thought.

  6. David Mann
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Dave, what is the title of Darin Richardson’s book?

  7. Cindy Caddell
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Hello,
    Fear can also be called avoidance behavior. When a person does not share with family and friends that they believe the existence of Bigfoot is a possibility, they are avoiding being judged which could bring on humiliation and ridicule. Humans, and I’m sure Bigfoot, use avoidance behavior every day. We wear our seat belts to avoid injury if in a car crash. We walk on the opposite side of the street to avoid the chance of being bitten by a barking dog. All this is based on fear and much of what we do is avoidance behavior…..fear. This could be related to accounts of other primates, such as Bigfoot, leaving the area of humans. They are fearful for what could happen and avoidance behavior takes hold.
    Thank you for the discussion!

  8. David Mann
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    ok I found it on Amazon, it’s “Bigfoot and I”

  9. Carol
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Everything, every action, emotion, motion…
    is either FEAR or LOVE.
    Every reaction, when taken far enough back,
    reduces down to one or the other…
    FEAR contracts…. LOVE expands… Everything.

  10. Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Hullo Autumn!
    Boy this gives a feller alot to Think about.
    So well worded I WILL have to sit down and fully consider what has been said.
    Thanks for something new to ponder, looking forward to reading more.
    As always,
    Johnny B.

  11. Sally Sheppard-Wolfo
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    No matter that I gave birth to you, and have known you your entire life. You never cease to amaze me. XOXOXO Yo Mama

  12. WCO
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been giving this whole FEAR thing alot of thought latey. IMO, I think we have two levels of fear at work here. 1] The mortal fear of the unknown, which generally applies to the witnesses. 2]The fear manifested by the EGO, which more often applies to the “researcher”. This fear includes the symptoms mentioned by Autumn above; Arrogance, sarcasim , sniping, ridicule etc.This in turn only expands the fear of the witnesses and keeps them from coming forward at all.This is the fear cycle, that keeps the witness and reasearcher at odds as Autumn has discussed previously.Until that cycle is broken things will not progress.

    -Bill

  13. Buffalospirit
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Very insightful dialogue. I liked what “Jim in St. Paul” said regarding we reap what we sow. So true. Tom also had a very good point regarding public versus private forums – I have noticed the same. Overall, I am glad this topic was brought up since I have often wondered why there is so much bad behavior when it comes to “bigfootery.” I think there is probably also the same in the study of ufos and other areas in which the debate is going strong on whether the topic being studied is real or imagined. Reading Autumn’s post has made me wonder if this same behavior perhaps occured in other instances throughout history prior to great discoveries or is this fear-motivated behavior more of a modern twist because so much attention and adoration is put on instant fame and fortune. It is too bad that this underlying fear is causing
    witnesses to change their interactions with their habituation experiences …. to me, that is among the saddest outcomes of all of this craziness. The Big Guys know what is going on … and I can’t help but wonder if they shake their heads in pity at our actions. But until such behavior, and intentions, change (and fear is perhaps eliminated from the equation), then the Big Guys will continue to be an enigma and we will continue to fight among ourselves.

  14. Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Exceptional information Autunm. I had just been thinking about fear in the past few weeks and how it affects us. I love the others comments too.
    So very well done.

  15. William Burke
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Autumn, I enjoy your writings immensely, and feel a great kinship with your beliefs, but I must respectfully take issue when you say we “go to war because of fear.”

    I cannot think of a single war our country has participated in in over a century where this is the case. Rather, we go to war for PROFIT. We go to war for CONTROL. WWII may seem a noble cause, but America (speaking from historical analysis) had to be manipulated into agreement (via FEAR), since most Americans were originally AGAINST it.

    Going back a bit over a century, America was manipulated into the Spanish-American War by the sinking of the USS Maine, which our own government caused, not Spain. You can look it up. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which got Americans into the Vietnam quagmire, NEVER EVEN HAPPENED! As they say, “war is good business.” Do I need to bring up WMDs?

  16. Posted April 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Bill – Thank you for your comment. Desire for profit – or, in other words, GREED – IS a fear… fear of not having what we consider to be “enough” money to support the way of life we’ve become accustomed to or feel entitled to. Or people fight over land because they want control of it – because they fear not having enough space or fear someone else having control of it; which, incidentally, is the next blog post I’m planning… how we attempt to CONTROL situations and people when we feel fear (like you said – CONTROL). Fear is also a great tool for manipulating others into doing what we want them to… case in point, threats of the existence of WMDs led to our acquiescence over the war in Iraq. Wars are fought over religious beliefs (just as personal arguments occur over those same beliefs) because we feel threatened (fear) when someone else’s beliefs appear to invalidate our own. I think, here, you’re addressing the reactions whereas I’m talking about the underlying reason for those reactions. I’m not saying that we go to war because we directly fear the country we’re fighting with… it can be what they stand for, what they have that we want that we may not have enough of, or another indirect fear that we hold that has nothing to do with that country such as our own greed, etc. I hope I’ve explained this more clearly. It’s a difficult thing to put into words, which is why I’m having to break this up into a series. There are nuances here that are deep and underlying. I’m not talking about the “what” happens so much as the “why” it happens… :) – Autumn

  17. WCO
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    This was the point I was getting at.Root cause and symptomology have to be seperated out. Not easy, but it needs to be done or the cycle never ends.
    (Sorry, if I’m not supposed to double post.)

    -Bill

  18. Shy 1
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing what I feel is the reason for many that have chosen not to share there personal relationship with the Tribe on line. What a platform you have, and you wield it so masterfully. {:0)

  19. Fuzzy
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Lady A – In some forty years in Sales, I’ve learned that the Philosophical Coin of the Realm is GREED – Greed runs everything. The two sides of the Greed coin are Fear of Loss and Desire for Gain, and every event or activity can be boiled down to one or both of those emotions. Coins are thin, and these two Fears, like Love/Hate, lie perilously close together, back to back, constantly tossed and spun around in our lives, and no matter which side is up on the landing, GREED wins.

  20. Scott Davis
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m very proud of you my friend. :) You found the words to express what you wanted to convey about an incredibly complex yet extremely prevalent issue (not only in the Bigfoot Research community, but society in general). I knew you would do so, and you have, in a manner that people can understand (and in many cases) relate to. I’m looking forward to what you write in your next post about this subject. Well done. :)

  21. Posted April 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Autumn… well stated… As I have taught for some years now, fear is the one emotion Sas cannot seem to work through. I believe that is because of the emotional stress and stimuli that you aptly presented.

    I don’t wish to make a political statement or cause argument, because Bill is right in that profits are high in time of war, but Hitler and Tojo were forces to FEAR… nuff said…

  22. Darin
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Very well put, Autumn my friend. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Dave- I am glad you liked my book. If I am ever out near Manassas, Virginia, I will be sure to look you up.

  23. Kipp Morrill
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Autumn, that was really well written and very thought provoking. You are so right on the money, and it was almost as if you were talking directly to me in regards to some of those statements. I’d like to add that fear and ego are best friends. I find that my fear is often driven by my own ego, or my perception of how I see things. I like to believe that I don’t let my own ego get in the way but ironically, thats my ego talking. As for Bigfooting, it’s a funny thing for me personally. As I have become more able to become involved, I’ve found that I have a fear of disclosing my beliefs to some. What am I afraid of? People thinking differently about me? Yep. That’s fear that is embarrasing to admit. But, it’s thought provoking blogs like this that can lead to change. Change as in, at the very least, an acknowledgment of how our fear can drive us to do and act in ways that we arent proud of.

  24. cbrown7518
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Deep,very deep! that makes my brain hurt! however can’t tell how right you are, and find that i want to print it and re-read it as that really helps me in my everyday life W/ a certain problematic workplace relationship! thank you Autumn!

  25. Bing
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing this and enjoyed reading your discussion on fear and bigfooting very much. All of the examples of fear presented in your discussion can certainly be a moment by moment perception of what is real and not real in bigfootery. Fear of possible punishment from others or from within yourself certainly causes one to feel guilty for whatever act one does in their life.

    Living in a state of unconditional love and forgiveness transcends all fear. If and when we we can live in such bliss then Bigfootery is no longer Bigfootery. Then we and Bigfoot can all live in peace.

  26. Sandy
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Hi there,

    I think maybe fear is secondary to a self centred mind? That the root problems of greed, war, bad relationships is not fear I think but over self concern. We are afraid when ‘we’ are threatened, our self centred attitude causes us to be greedy because we want more, rather than we are afraid of poverty – we just keep taking because we think we are the most important. etc etc

  27. Posted April 26, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    You’re welcome! I’m hoping that this blog series will offer something that might help with everyday life, too, the way it has helped me. :)

  28. Noel
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Hi, Autumn -

    I agree with your premise about fear, that fear drives our behavior.

    But, what drives our emotions? Our emitions are a response driven by what we believe about our situation. For example, a person who believes that they need something that they are not able to provide for themselves feels fear and hopelessness when they perceive that they will not get it. In many cases, these feelings relate back to their self-perception, that they are not good enough. My stepson was abused when he was young and he struggles with a poor self-esteem. It was his brithday a few weeks ago and he wanted an item so bad that it became a need for him. When he thought he was not going to get it, he felt fear because he knew he could not provide it for himself. And,he felt hopeless because he thought he was not good enough to receive it. His sense of self worth is a dysfunctional/erroneous belief.

    A person who believes that they want something and recognizes their own limitations for providing it for themselve, feels fear and disappointment when they perceive they will not get what they want. They understand that just because they want it does not mean that they will get it. They accept their limitations and its consequences. My daughter wanted to start a Physician Assistant program this Fall. However, because one of courses from her bachelor’s program did not meet the school’s requirements, she felt disappointed about not starting this year. But she then made arrangements for completing an acceptable class and reapplying next year. She has a good sense of self-worth and was able to accept the situation without giving up on what she wants.

    Many of the people who I have interacted with fall into the above two categories, especially those who are part of private forums.

    On the otherhand, many of those who spend their time and energy on public forums fall into a different category. They seem to havce extremely high self-esteem that distorts and exceeds reality, (i.e., full of themselves). They think that they control themselves and everything around them. They expect to get everything that they want. When they don’t get what they want, I don’t believe they feel fear. I believe they feel anger, because reality conflicts with what they believe. They remind of my nephew when he was about 2-3 years old. However, instead of wailing, they just let out a long diatribe against whoever they perceive is preventing them from getting what they want.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts; they are always thought provoking.

    Those who execpt to receive something feel angry when they perceive they will not get it.

  29. Posted April 26, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Noel – Thanks for your comments. You said, “On the otherhand, many of those who spend their time and energy on public forums fall into a different category. They seem to havce extremely high self-esteem that distorts and exceeds reality, (i.e., full of themselves). They think that they control themselves and everything around them. They expect to get everything that they want. When they don’t get what they want, I don’t believe they feel fear. I believe they feel anger, because reality conflicts with what they believe. ” Yes, they feel anger. But anger is a secondary emotion that is created by fear. That’s my point. People are quick to latch onto the secondary emotions, not having the self-awareness to realize that they are based in fear. They’re beyond feeling fear… probably can’t even identify that it is underlying and would get angry if you said so. (How ironic is that?) Entitlement is also based in fear. “I DESERVE THIS!” the entitled exclaim, sometimes angrily… because they’re afraid they might not get it and it’s easier to manipulate someone by denying the possibility that they may not deserve it or be entitled to it! “If I believe wholeheartedly that I deserve this, who are you to question that?”

    You can’t begin to address something unless you FULLY IDENTIFY it. That’s why the anger manifests – because of a FEAR of recognizing the fear, ironically – and angry, self-defeating behaviors follow as a result. Regarding your step-son… Low self-esteem IS a fear… and it is another one that rules our behavior. Check out the latest post in this series… http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/blog/bigfoot/psychology-in-bigfooting-control/ An internal locus of control is the first step to getting out of low self-esteem and into a place of personal responsibility (ability to respond or control the self).

    What drives our emotions? I think, at the very base level, it’s a desire to feel good or a desire to avoid feeling bad (fear). Everything else – all the complexity that follows – is secondary but we have to muck our way through it and examine the causes and motivations of our behaviors carefully if we ultimately seek that internal locus of control. :)

  30. Noel
    Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Autumn -

    You make a good point about fear. As you said in this blog, emotions are based on perception. If you perceive that you will not get what you need, want, and/or expect, you will feel fear. However, our perceptions are based on our thoughts compiled from what we have learned and validated through experience over our life time.

    I also agree with your comments that fear drives our desire to control. [I have already taken a quick peek at your next blog. It is as thought provoking as this one. :-)]Our emotions, controlled by our amygdada,are attached to our thoughts and provide a context by which our prefrontal cortext discerns and selects our response. However, if our amygdala senses a threat, which would trigger fear, it hijacks our brain and drives our behavior response. Whether or not the amygdala hijacks the PFC depends upon the intensity of the emotion. Mature people control their amygdala and respond in a responsible way. Dysfunctial people allow the amygdala to hijack their response and behave in a irresponsible way (i.e., people on the public forums that ridicule others because they fear of not getting what they need, want, and/or expect.)

  31. Steven
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Very thought-provoking article. I’ve printed it out and putting it on my wall as a daily reminder.

  32. Mother Superior
    Posted April 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death which brings total obliteration. I will face my fears. I will let them pass over me and through me. And when the fear is gone, I will turn my inner eye to the path of its passing and only I shall remain.

    Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
    Dune books by Frank Herbert

    It is telling us that the fear left unexamined is a demon which devours our souls…