Friday, October 24, 2008

Primal Fear (You Know You Have One)

Being buried alive under six feet of suffocating dirt; the strike of a lethal snake; terrorist attacks that can occur at any time. These are just a few of the fears that cause the pulse to quicken and the muscles to tense up. Scientists refer to this as “fight or flight,” an instinctual response to danger, which throughout history has been essential to survival. PRIMAL FEAR, a two-hour special premiering on History™ Monday, October 27, 2008 at 9 p.m. ET/PT explores the science and background behind our deepest fears and their influence on pop culture and the human condition.

Whether the fear is inherent, traceable through our ancestry, or a learned fear caused by a traumatic event, the response is the same: the trigger of a small gland in the brain called the amygdala. Once engaged the physiology to survive takes over. Blood flow increases to the arms and legs for defense or escape, the pupils dilate for better focus. Even when a fear is imagined, such as the ‘boogey man,’ fight or flight goes into effect.

Primal Fear recounts historical events and legendary tales that invoked massive panic, as well as interviews with individuals who recently lived through harrowing occurrences:

· Shark attacks—on the Jersey shore in 1916, four people were killed by sharks in less than two weeks, creating widespread panic and eventually a best-selling novel and the Hollywood blockbuster, Jaws.

· Fear of snakes—many are deadly, leading to their portrayal as a symbol of evil, yet some people still dare to handle them.

· Concept of Hell—its power in religion and society, and how it has affected the human psyche, leading some to take drastic measures.

· Fear of monsters—from Dracula to the bogeyman, imagined fears typically begin in childhood.

· Fear of drowning—a lifeguard who overcame treacherous ocean waters to save a group of kids, shares his story of nearly succumbing to the powerful waves.

· Burned alive—a survivor of the tragic Rhode Island nightclub fire in 2003 describes how she lived through that terrible night and the fears she lives with today.

PRIMAL FEAR can also be seen on Halloween night, Friday, October 31 at 10pm ET/PT.

PRIMAL FEAR is produced for History by Northern Light Productions. Bestor Cram is Executive Producer and Ken Winikur is Producer/Director. Executive Producer for History is Susan Werbe.