Post Publication Independent Review of

"The self and its world: a neuro-ecological and temporo-spatial account of existential fear"

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Post Publication Independent Review of "The self and its world: a neuro-ecological and temporo-spatial account of existential fear"

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Post Publication Independent Review of

The self and its world: a neuro-ecological and temporo-spatial account of existential fear

Andrea Scalabrini, Clara Mucci, Lorenzo Lucherini Angeletti, Georg Northof

Clinical Neuropsychiatry (2020) 17, 2, 46-58

Review Comments:

1. This article was seen and flagged for later review. Attention is drawn to the news item at link

This news item prompted immediate review for this research article "The self and its world: a neuro-ecological and temporo-spatial account of existential fear" and hence review is initiated on 24.04.2020.

2. Quote "What is happening nowadays with the pandemic spread of COVID-19 is an existential threat for us as individual selves related with others, both belonging to a shared world. Our sense of self and others is threatened by the danger of i) being infected, ii) infecting other people, and (iii) the loss of social relation. This abnormal situation has an impact on us as subjectivities being intrinsically related with others and the world, leading to different neuronal and psychological responses on the basis of our basic emotional feelings, as is the case of fear." End of Quote.

We need to understand and appreciate that the fear (if any) that we experience about the COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak is a neuronal or psychological response to our basic emotional feeling of fear, that has been triggered due to an acute threat perception to our life due to COVID-19 outbreak.

There are two aspects that need to be given significance here.

i. The Threat Perception Level.

ii. The Body's immune response to any infection/disease.

The threat perception even if it is high due to the severity of the COVID-19, can be brought down if the candidate can understand that their Body's immune response to infection/disease can be improved.

When the threat perception is brought down, then the fear factor subsides and consequently, all damaging effects due to the fear factor also subside.

The key to this rests in certain phenomena/concepts/principles similar to those outlined at

Consequently, either this concept or any related concept can be used to improve the Body's immune response to any infection/disease. Once the candidate is affirmed that his/her Body's immune response is good or has improved, then the threat perception due to COVID-19 starts getting lowered by the candidate. Once the threat perception starts to get lower, the candidate starts getting confident that he/she wont succumb to the COVID-19 infection, which will consequently bring down the fear level, and immediately stop all damaging after effects to the self and to others. A more beneficial effect of this and further subsequent processes is that the candidate will approach the handling of the COVID-19 in a more practical and pragmatic way.

a. The Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi was right when he requested all the Citizens to light candles or a lamp at a prefixed time for a prefixed duration as reported at . People cooperated, though some questioned the efficacy of it.

b. Further, The Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi, again suggested to the people to perform yoga during lockdown period to reduce stress as reported at Again people would have cooperated, done as suggested and benefitted by it, but at the same time there were also some who questioned the efficacy of it.

This research article (reviewed here) was accepted on April 05, 2020 and available shortly via Google Scholar, and a review could have been done, but

i. it might have been perceived as singing praises of the novel approaches of the Govt., and hence it was not done.

ii. it was flagged for later review, and more important concerns were taken up for review; insights and further suggestions were shared

c. Also, there was a twitter broadcast on April 19, 2020 by the PMO on behalf of The Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi at (cause of which is beyond the scope of this review, but the good scientific effect of which falls within the scope of this review). An acknowledgement was filed (though we were not the intended recipients of the aforesaid tweet broadcast by the PMO) at and again flagged for later reaction.

However, the recent trend as cited above via news item has forced this review to be done now.

Another reason why this research article was flagged for later review was that, the suggestions of the Prime Minister of India to the Nation as indicated in Review Comment 2a and 2b had a scientific basis and the broadcast by the PMO also had a scientific basis, which did not receive sufficient concentration. Further, when handling a pandemic of such proportions, when scientific concentration is provided for every concern, it should not become another topic of discussion in the Media with possible diversion of focus from pressing issues on hand to sensitive issues.

Significantly, the scientific explanations was available as a set of research articles published in open access (S. No. 26 to 53 at ), and ofcourse, priorities of the people could be different and not many might have attached value to those research articles because any research article gets its due attention only when the discussions or findings of those research article are essentially needed, though the discussions and findings may have a perpetual value. And if we took any effort to help reach the findings of those research articles, at this time, it may amount to

i. Singing praises of the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi

ii. Marketing/Propagating ourselves in times of crisis (COVID-19)

Consequently, we were following the developments, providing post publication reviews and suggestions on many other areas, deemed necessary at those points of time.

The Scientific Explanations of the hitherto scientifically unexplained phenomena relating to three seemingly unrelated actions & suggestions of the Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi (Review Comments 2a, 2b and 2c) can be had at S. No. 26 to 53 at Further, if any further details are required on ways to improve the Body's immune response and to further understand more advanced concepts, the interested reader can refer to S. No. 26 to 53 at . Since that research was done in stages and hence reported, some extent of similarity among papers might be there, so that any reader can have a continuous flow of thought in the paper being read and may not need to refer multiple previous research articles over multiple citations at every stage of report. Consequently, the interested reader is suggested to read from S. No. 53 in descending order, towards S. No. 26. Discussion of these articles here will broaden the scope of this review a lot, and hence discussion is not done here. However, the interested reader can refer to those articles in ways suggested herewith.

However, it can be seen that the scientific discussions in the aforesaid research articles bears a direct relation to the actions of the Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi, providing a solid scientific background to his seemingly unrelated suggestions (Review Comment 2a, 2b, 2c) in this time of COVID-19 outbreak.

We had flagged for later review (if required), as we had to maintain our Scientific Integrity and do not indulge in any action that can be misunderstood as praising the Prime Minister in times of crisis (COVID-19).

We are now writing and filing this review due to news item, as if we hesitate to review now and file it, our Scientific Integrity may be questioned from a different perspective, if we choose to remain silent spectators when we should have shared the knowledge vested with us.

Reading again the above comments, we understand that we have the solution with us (for COVID-19), and we also appreciate that we are going in the right direction in handing COVID-19, and there is no need for any anxiety or fear and there is no need to damage the life of anyone else (suspected of being a COVID-19 patient) to protect the self; we can now proceed to the further sections of this review which will help us understand the phenomena better and we can also handle ourselves better too; and also prepare ourselves and future generations on overcoming any large scale pandemic with the knowledge that we can derive further.

3. Quote "In humans higher levels of fear destroys the sense of security in the world producing higher level of stress and anxiety. In these extreme cases the world is not perceived as a “secure base”. The FEAR/Anxiety System can be activated by various external events as well as by internal ones. These are usually triggered by specific external events that have been paired with pain or other threatening stimuli, but feelings of fear can also emerge simply from the internal dynamics of the brain, what has been called free-floating anxieties." End of Quote.

In simple words, whenever any individual or group of individuals start feeling that the ground is slipping beneath their feet (while in reality, the ground may not be slipping at all), their stress and anxiety levels start rising up in indirect proportion to the fall in their belief/faith system. This is where the action taken/suggested in Review Comments 2a, 2b and 2c will help to strengthen the belief/faith system in the individual, giving them a collective impression of a support system by the Govt., in addition to their belief/faith system.

4. Quote "The FEAR/Anxiety System can be activated by various external events as well as by internal ones. These are usually triggered by specific external events that have been paired with pain or other threatening stimuli, but feelings of fear can also emerge simply from the internal dynamics of the brain, what has been called free-floating anxieties. Indeed, when humans are stimulated intensely, primary-process FEAR circuits motivate to freeze and flee in apparent frights. In these conditions people report being engulfed by intense anxiety and fear (e.g. “scared to death”) with no necessary environmental cause (Nashold, Wilson, & Slaughter, 1969)" End of Quote.

Now, in this COVID-19 outbreak period, there could be many external events that can cause anxiety.

Consequently, The Prime Minister of India was offered some humble suggestions that would help him and his govt. handle the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively. Some action was taken, which was also promptly acknowledged and thanked. Details are available at

It was observed that this time of lockdown was also attempted by many to raise their ratings or brand value. There is a time for everything. But this is certainly not the time to raise ratings or elevate brand value. This is the time when the whole Nation has to stand together with the Govt. (and the Govt. stand with the People) and together undertake tasks that are essential to contain the pandemic spread and save maximum lives. However, it was also observed that for selfish interests, the people's anxiety was attempted to be kindled and many a time, observed that the COVID-19 containment process faced a difficult path, even forcing the Prime Minister to appear on Television and issue an apology magnanimously (as a damage control exercise, coz that was not the time to point fingers and aggravate any concern). Profiteering, Business Interests, Ratings, and other concerns of the self may need to be pursued, but this is not the time when the self needs to be promoted at the cost of so many lakhs and crores of lives at stake.

Hence, knowingly or unknowingly, the anxiety level of the society may have risen due to unscrupulous actions of some or many. This has caused life threatening stimuli to be released, throwing out of sync, the restoration mechanisms of the brain against free-floating anxieties that can rupture the internal dynamics of the brain. Consequently, many could have become prisoner of their own uncontrolled thought processes, with heightened anxiety and fear, scared to death that they have caused the death of a person who coughed ( )

5. Quote "Fear and anxiety can then be seen as strategies of the brain to re-balance and ultimately ‘normalize’ its intero- and extero-ceptive input – the brain establishes relationship to the body, which is manifest in fear/anxiety. More deeply, it tells us that even an emotion as basic as fear is not isolated and locked-up in the brain or the organism. Instead, the data tell us that fear is intrinsically relational, something constituted neuro-vegetatively as based on the interoceptive input from the body. That, in turn, establishes relationship to the environment and the world – taken in a more general sense, emotions like fear/anxiety are thus about the balance between world, body, and brain and are thus genuinely relational and neuro-ecological." End of Quote.

In simple words, fear & anxiety which were hitherto treated as personal traits, were and are never a personal trait, but was only a relational reaction of the brain and the body to the society, and more intricately related to the influencers, otherwise called as the Media & Public Speakers. The Media and the Public Speakers have to appreciate and respect their role during such pandemic containment and help the common man understand what he/she needs to understand, and should never raise the anxiety levels of the common man for any type of business or political or individual benefits. There is a time to care for the self, and there is a time to care for the society, and during a pandemic containment time like now (due to COVID-19), it is never the time to care for the self or selfish reasons, but to care for the society genuinely. These times should not be seen as an opportunity to make hay while the sun shines. Irresponsible action during these times may raise the fear and anxiety levels drastically in people, and consequently that may vent out as undesirable happenings which could affect the life of many (Ofcourse, these statements are recorded here with the understanding that not many will care and may pursue their own selfish interests only, but we have to do our duty with integrity, and hence we do our duty, against all odds).

6. Quote "it is possible to understand how the current international pandemic crisis situation due to COVID-19 has a strong impact on our fear/anxiety levels. Just as the virus’ global spread accelerated, the perception and the attention towards our inner state have increased sharply. So while externally, media and social networks are gathering attention over the threatened worldwide situation, internally, we experience increased interoceptive awareness, in an attempt to early detect the symptoms of the virus. The prospect of being infected or of being able to infect our loved significant others makes us experience the constant state of worry lived daily by those suffering from an anxiety disorder. The more these possibilities become concrete, i.e., by becoming aware of virus-positive friends and acquaintances, the more our own self-integrity and its relationship with the world are threatened which, in turn, induces anxiety/fear." End of Quote.

These observations by the authors adds more credence to Review Comments above.

7. Quote "On the deepest level of our existence, we are intrinsically connected with the other – we constitute our self through our intrinsic connection with the other. That very same intrinsic connection to the other shapes our self through what psychology describes as attachment. The data show that early life events like traumatic childhood events in our relation with others strongly shape our self, leading to malfunctioning attachment and major changes or deficits in the structure of self." End of Quote.

Now, we can understand that we do have attachments at multiple levels, for instance, family, friendships, relatives, neighbours, caste, creed, community, religion, language, politics, movie actors/actresses, and the list is endless. The trauma associated with COVID-19 is something that no living person has seen, coz its been so many decades ago that pandemics of this scale have been witnessed, and not many who have seen such pandemics decades ago may be alive now.

These attachments cause major vulnerabilities of the self, and the damage to the self and the society can be on a very large scale, if fear and anxiety levels are elevated by any one or more of the attachments. At this point, the action of the attachments (in raising the fear or anxiety levels) can be done by the attachments knowingly or unknowingly. It may not be possible to restrain all attachments, coz every attachment cannot be expected to exhibit nobility and the benefit to the self may also be an agenda of the attachment. Consequently, when the attachment raises the level of fear or anxiety in the individual, not only is he/she going to suffer but he/she may also become a cause for the society suffering, which is already taking a very big hit due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

8. Quote "The threat of the coronavirus presents us with a double threat – collapse of our subjectivity as due to the risk of our body being infected and collapse of our inter-subjectivity as by social isolation of our self from others. The double threat of both subjectivity and inter-subjectivity provides a depth dimension to our emotions including our fears and anxieties resulting in existential fear. Such intimate connection of fear, self, and existence, is due to the way our brain and its spontaneous activity are organized, that is, it stabilizes itself by aligning to body and world in very much the same way we stabilize our movements during dancing by aligning to the rhythm of the music. That very same alignment of our brain to body and world, i.e., temporospatial alignment is threatened if not disrupted by the corona virus crisis – in the same, one dances erratically when being detached from the music’s rhythms, we become existentially threatened and erratic when the brain’s and ultimately our self’s temporo-spatial neuroecological alignment to the world are threatened by both the virus and the defense measures of physical and social distancing. Nowadays reading life on the basis of daily confrontation with the death and connected existential fears is at the same time the threat and the value of this time. Loss of subjectivity is manifest in our loss of body and thus the fear of dying, while the loss of intersubjectivity surfaces in our fear of infecting others and thereby losing a key component of our relation and alignment to the world, that is, ultimately, the others and thereby our self. In those instances, one would wish that our brain would operate differently. However, that is a hope doomed to fail as we, through our existential fears, pay the price for the virtues of our brain as it lets us experience our own self in synchrony with and being aligned to others and the wider world. "

Now, let us read the review comments from Comment 1 again. It will help us to understand better.

Consequently, we have only one solution. We will have to follow the Prime Minister of INDIA Shri Narendra Modi with reference to his twitter broadcast at with the following message Quote "COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood. We are in this together: PM @narendramodi" End of Quote.

Hence, we will have to be modest, shed aside our egos, let pride take a backseat, respect the knowledge of those whom we have never respected so far (for their knowledge never brought in tonnes of Gold or Cash or Stocks or Precious Jewels) for their knowledge could only lives and make life better, and bring them to the forefront in this National & International fight against COVID-19 if we really want to save lives.

If our motive was never to save lives, but only hold on to the chair, the power and the prestige associated with the chair, we can continue however we like to continue.

If our motive is to save lives, we need to bring all those knowledgeable people who need to be brought in, irrespective of caste, creed, community, color, language, race, religion and handle the COVID-19 containment & treatment processes for the good of all.

We can choose whether we want to go down in history as a divided nation that destroyed itself coz of ego, race, religion, caste, creed, language etc. or whether we want to go down in history as an ancient civilization that lived up to its roots that were thousands of years old, and showed a pathway of life, for all life on the planet and for all Nations of the World.

Now it can be understood why the review of this research article was flagged for a later date, for we knew what was the reason and we also knew what was the solution.

When we now understand that societal damage to life has started to happen, it would be wrong on our part to delay the review. Hence the review was started to be written on April 24, 2020 and finisht on April 25, 2020 and filed appropriately by twitter and by email to the Prime Minister & the Govt. of INDIA. Since this set of reviews has already been shared to the world, it is understood that the whole world can share the insights of this review, and utilize it to save lives globally.

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