Thursday, August 27, 2009

Battle cries!

I went swimming this weekend in our happy little Lake Geneva (more properly Lac Leman). There is nothing so unusual about that.

I also became convinced—not just once, but twice—that jumping off a platform five meters above the water (a little more than 16 feet) would be a good idea. This is rather more unusual. It sure was fun, but I could not hurl myself from the platform without releasing a primal scream of fear the whole way down. This has got me thinking, what is the link between fear, screaming and courage?

A little superficial Googling has turned up nothing of interest so I’m only going on my own (largely anecdotal, highly scientific) knowledge. It seems to me that our shouts and cries are meant to be advertisements that we are not afraid. We are after all drawing attention to ourselves. Perhaps this is also meant to disorient and frighten an enemy? Think of the marauding Berserkers, fierce Norse warriors who frightened the entrails out of people with their fearsome battle cries.

I bet anything that our “battle cries” (as mine certainly was when I was leaping off the platform in to the lake—I screamed so loud I have a sore throat) are more often than not a kind of bluff, a behaviour to make us temporarily feel braver than we believe ourselves to be. Just what the mechanism is for this I have no idea, but I bet it is there. And, as it got me off the tower and in to the lake, I’m grateful for it!

1 comment:

  1. Danielle, you are amazing! This made me think-when was the last time I screamed? I think my current dissatisfaction with my job and with Oakland has given me scream constipation. Time to go live life and find something high to jump off of.