Learning to Live with Fear of the Flu

For the first time in history, the world is fighting a pandemic flu before it becomes a full-fledged catastrophe. But the real battle is the one in our heads

Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP / Getty

The brain loathes uncertainty. In laboratory experiments, humans actually fear uncertainty more than physical pain. We are simply wired this way. When we encounter uncertainty, the first thing we do is try to beat it back. The problem is, uncertainty may not be the biggest threat. It may be a distraction — the kind we have to cope with while we do the actual work of keeping ourselves alive.

Hayden Henshaw, 18, got sick on a Tuesday in late April. He was at his high school in Cibolo, Texas, just outside San Antonio, when he came down with...

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