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.
- 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
- If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.
- 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
- We have genuflected before the God of Science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.
- Martin Luther King, Strength to Love, 1963.
- Anxiety was a philosophical concept before it taken up by psychology and psychiatry. The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard (1813-1855) argued that anxiety is part of human nature. Anxiety arises where possibility and actuality come into contact and the present touches the future. Anxiety is a product of having the freedom to make choices and act, and by doing so make a commitment to one’s identity, ways of being in the world, and standing in relation to other people. For Kierkegaard, anxiety can be an avenue to stand in relation to God. This is why he wrote, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”
One can bracket out the God dimensions and still learn something valuable from Kierkegaard, namely that anxiety can cause inaction, which is, in its most basic sense, a loss of freedom. What is possible may never actualize and one may lose the present by tending to an imagined future. One becomes immobilized and unable to meet needs and realize goals and aspirations.
- 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 first time Faith-Ann Bishop cut herself, she was in eighth grade. It was 2 in the morning, and as her parents slept, she sat on the edge of the tub at her home outside Bangor, Maine, with a metal clip from a pen in her hand. Then she sliced into the soft skin near her ribs. There was blood–and a sense of deep relief. “It makes the world very quiet for a few seconds,” says Faith-Ann. “For a while I didn’t want to stop, because it was my only coping mechanism. I hadn’t learned any other way.”
The pain of the superficial wound was a momentary escape from the anxiety she was fighting constantly, about grades, about her future, about relationships, about everything. Many days she felt ill before school. Sometimes she’d throw up, other times she’d stay home. “It was like asking me to climb Mount Everest in high heels,” she says.
- “The competitiveness, the lack of clarity about where things are going [economically] have all created a sense of real stress,” says Victor Schwartz of the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that works with colleges and universities on mental-health programs and services. “Ten years ago, the most prominent thing kids talked about was feeling depressed. And now anxiety has overtaken that in the last couple of years.”
- Susanna Schrobsdorff, "Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright", Time, (Oct. 27, 2016).
- 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.
- Paul Tillich, The Courage To Be (1952), p. 39