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Poise under pressure, serenity under stress, and the brave new science of fear and cool

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.


Introduction: The Closest Call


  • 1. Your Second Brain: Exploring the new science of fear
  • 2. The Worry Trap: Eight awful ways (plus a few good ways) to deal with fear and anxiety
  • 3. The Zen of Shock Trauma: Stress, strain, and coping with chaos


  • 4. Think Fast: Cognition Under Pressure, and How to Improve It
  • 5. Before the Maddening Crowd: Decoding the Mysteries of Performance Anxiety and Stage Fright
  • 6. The Clutch Paradox: Why Athletes Excel - or Choke - Under Fire
  • 7. Mayday, Mayday!: How We React, Think, and Survive When Our Lives Are on the Line

Conclusion: How to Be Afraid

More from Nerve...

How to Be Afraid

Fear and anxiety aren't villains we must vanquish but benign forces we can accept and live with. Nerve presents a slew of practical tips to relate better with our fears, stresses and worry-laden minds. Here are three...


Do You Have Tiger Blood? What it takes to keep cool under pressure, by Taylor Clark, March 3, 2011, Slate Magazine.

It's Not the Job Market: The three real reasons why Americans are more anxious than ever before, by Taylor Clark, Jan. 31, 2011, Slate Magazine.

Suggested Reading

A quick list of useful and trustworthy resources for guidance on dealing with fear, anxiety, pressure, stress and more.

"This is an improbably charming and witty book about a disturbing and flummoxing subject. More than that, though, Taylor Clark has made me less afraid of being afraid." -Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives

"A compassionate psychological page-turner" - Kirkus Reviews