Anxiety

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Anxiety is a physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components (Seligman, Walker & Rosenhan, 2001). These components combine to create the feelings that we typically recognize as fear, apprehension, or worry. Anxiety is often accompanied by physical sensations such as heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headache. The cognitive component entails expectation of a diffuse and certain danger.

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  • Almost all men are over-anxious. No sooner do they enter the world than they lose that taste for natural and simple pleasures so remarkable in early life. Every hour do they ask themselves what progress they have made in the pursuit of wealth or honor; and on they go as their fathers went before them, till, weary and sick at heart, they look back with a sigh of regret to the golden time of their childhood.
  • The awareness of the relationship between the self and the world is precisely what breaks down in anxiety.
    • Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety (1977), p. 62
  • Anxiety is the apprehension cued off by a threat to some value that the individual holds essential to his existence as a personality.
    • Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety (1977), p. 205
  • One cannot fight what one does not know.
    • Rollo May, The Meaning of Anxiety (1977), p. 207
  • In a logical system, it is convenient to say that possibility passes over into actuality. However, in actuality it is not so convenient, and an intermediate term is required. The intermediate term is anxiety… Anxiety is neither a category of necessity nor a category of freedom; it is entangled freedom, where freedom is not free in itself but entangled, not by necessity, but in itself.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin (1980), p. 49
  • Anxiety is a desire for what one fears, a sympathetic antipathy; anxiety is an alien power which grips the individual, and yet he cannot tear himself away from it and does not want to, for one fears, but what he fears he desires. Anxiety makes the individual powerless, and the first sin always occurs in weakness; therefore it apparently lacks accountability, but this lack is the real trap.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin (1980), p. 235, note 47
  • Man’s basic anxiety … drives the anxious subject to establish objects of fear. Anxiety strives to become fear, because fear can be met by courage. … Horror is ordinarily avoided by the transformation of anxiety into fear of something, no matter what. The human mind is not only, as Calvin has said, a permanent factory of idols, it is also a permanent factory of fears—the first in order to escape God, the second in order to escape anxiety. … But ultimately the attempts to transform anxiety into fear are vain. The basic anxiety, the anxiety of a finite being about the threat of nonbeing, cannot be eliminated. It belongs to existence itself.

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