Very interesting! As a fiction writer, I often try to take advantage of learned responses to evoke strong reactions in my readers. (I hope without descending into “sentimentalism,” which in writer-speak means leaning on learned responses as a cheap crutch.)
I’m writing a horror piece at the moment, and to get around fear conditioning I use pacing to lull readers into a sense of complacency before hitting them with fear again. Like a rollercoaster. People enjoy that. It’s fun when no actual danger is involved.
Sadly, life doesn’t work like traditional fiction and storytelling. There is often no customary roller coaster experience — just a long, slow build to a very bad outcome.
We need to recognize fear conditioning when we see it, if we wish to take steps to change outcomes for the better.
Thanks for a fascinating take!