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My opinion would be that most of us tend to be creatures of habits with our own set of private little rituals for at least some situations. While the rituals may or may not have any actual effect on the situation or ourselves, they give at least an impression of control and familiarity which can be calming and beneficial.
Now I routinely use the Litany for dental work. I've been having implant surgery which is kind of like the gom jabbar. ;>) And I have also used it while getting MRIs, nerve blocks and epidural injections (more fun.) Unlike the usual simple repetitive mantra, I think the Litany Against Fear works because it takes a bit of focus to say the correct words in the correct order. It is not that it doesn't have meaning and the words are in context, but for some reason, I find them a bit tricky to remember. So it is distracting. That's my theory anyway.
But I have often wondered whether I was the only one who used it, and, yes, as Jo Walton's protagonist wondered, "why it works."
I tried it and a few other mantra's but none of them worked very well. I guess some people are more likely to be distracted by repeating something, anything, in the minds than other people. I don't think Herbert felt the Litany was some kind of magical spell or that it was a secret way of calming anyone's mind, though.
endorphins ... I think. The link between pain and fear is that pain is a product of an impulse sent to the brain, a kind of warning or alert. Given that the Gom Jabbar was simulating the pain, rather than actually mutilating Paul's hand, overcoming fear is the test as the pain, although felt, is really not a product of actual damage. Whether fear or pain, its all about control of the mind.
I used to watch Animaniacs religiously when I was younger and I don't recall that. Damn what a good cartoon!
The gom jabbar is the needle they poke you with if you pull your hand out of the box. It's not the actual box, and does in fact get used to kill people outside of the humanity test.
>12 allan.hird: yes, I get that meditation enables you to be awake and mindful, and to make concious decisions. I wonder whether psychologists use this sort of approach with people who have phobias?
>9 Goran: It would be interesting to know where Herbert got the idea. He borrowed so much from sufiism and Arab culture. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were something like the Litany Against Fear in one of those sources. So who knows what he thought?
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