Dr Brymer, from Queensland University of Technology's Faculty of Health, is one of the world's leading authorities on the motivation for and experience of extreme sports. He appears in the documentary Transcendence that has its Australian premiere at a free public event at QUT's Kelvin Grove campus on Wednesday, May 30.
The film, made by New Zealand filmmaker and extreme kayaker Josh Neilson, was sparked by Dr Brymer's groundbreaking research that found extreme sports participants were exceptionally grounded, experienced athletes who trained for years before attempting the extreme end of their sport.
Dr Brymer, in a paper published in the Journal of Health Psychology, said fear had emerged as part of the experience and meaning of extreme sports in the 15 extreme sports participants he interviewed.
"It would seem that fear is such an integral part in the preparation and pre-activity stage, that extreme sports participants consider those who do not feel fear are a danger to themselves and others," Dr Brymer said.
"Fear is far more complex than an adrenaline rush; participants talked about times when they experienced, recognised and then transcended fear.
"The participants said their capacity to harness fear gave them a sense of identity and uniqueness."
Dr Brymer said that, from an evolutionary perspective, fear was related to survival.
"Those who were too fearful to face the world would probably have starved," he said.
"Those who learnt to put their fears aside would have been emboldened to go further and achieve a new sense of self and agency."
Dr Brymer said that whereas fear was generally considered a barrier to doing things, when participants worked through the fear they found it opened a doorway to transcendence.
"They reported that facing fear in extreme sports and overcoming it to participate helped them manage fears in other aspects of life, in other words it empowered them in their everyday lives.
"A BASE jumper participant pretty much summed it up with 'if you can face your fears you get a new dimension on life, new possibilities ... life's sweet, explore it and treasure it'."
What: Extreme Dudes Event - The Australian premiere of Transcendence
When: 5pm Transcendence launch cocktail party; 6pm lecture and movie
Wednesday, 30 May
Where: QUT Kelvin Grove - Lecture Theatre F509, Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove.
Cost: Free, but booking essential
RSVP: Monday 28, May, via extremedudes.eventbrite.com.au
Provided by Queensland University of Technology
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