Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 10: 0316042897
ISBN 13: 978-0316042895
Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It's not that these people feel no fear; often, in fact, they're riddled with it.
In Nerve, Taylor Clark draws upon cutting-edge science and painstaking reporting to explore the very heart of panic and poise. Using a wide range of case studies, Clark overturns the popular myths about anxiety and fear to explain why some people thrive under pressure, while others falter-and how we can go forward with steadier nerves and increased confidence.
From Publishers Weekly
Why, in a world where we have created secure buffers against our worst fears, are so many of us so anxious? And why do some people exhibit nerves of steel under stressful and fearful conditions while others wilt? Clark (Starbucked) explores these questions by briefly examining the neuroscience of fear, and then collecting numerous stories of individuals who have remained calm against all odds in fearful life-and-death situations. For example, in 1991, principal Daniel Stockwell faced down a rifle barrel as he negotiated with a high school student holding him hostage. Although he was later praised for his calm, Stockwell admitted that he worked with his fear, rather than banishing it, in order to face the situation. Clark draws out of these tales a dozen quick tips for retaining your nerve in the face of stress, such as learning to accept uncertainty, breathing, and opening up to fear unconditionally. Unfortunately his meandering and simplistic approach offers neither new insights into the nature of anxiety nor any new perspectives on handling it. (Mar.)
Clark, author of Starbucked (2007), maintains his light, frequently humorous tone in this (mostly) serious look at the psychology of stress. Drawing on various forms of research, and numerous real-life stories, the author explores the reasons why we feel stress, our responses to it, and what we can do to deal with it constructively. Clark takes us through the history of stress research, from early breakthroughs (Walter Cannon�s 1915 elucidation of the fight-or-flight response) to experimental research (�most of what we know about the science of fear comes from tormenting rats,� Clark wryly observes) to today�s cutting-edge explorations of the workings of the human brain. The subjects of his real-life stories of dealing with stress under intense pressure range from Russian sub commanders to game-show contestants to tsunami survivors to pro athletes to musicians. The author makes some shrewd observations (for example, that Cannon�s fight-or-flight response leaves out a third F: freeze), and, unlike many authors of popular-science books, he really knows how to write, too: the book is informative, engaging, and, in quite a few places, funny. --David Pitt