My Age of Anxiety

My Age of Anxiety

Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind

Book - 2014
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As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood. Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Soren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists. Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as the afflicted generations of his own family. His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion's myriad manifestations and the anguish it produces, but also the countless psychotherapies, medications and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll - its crippling impact, and its devastating power to paralyse - while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it. My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.
Publisher: William Heinemann, London : 2014
ISBN: 9780434023004
Branch Call Number: ANF 616.8522 STOS
Characteristics: viii, 400 pages ; 24 cm


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SPL_Stephanie Sep 21, 2016

In his candid memoir My age of anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind, Scott Stossel elegantly juxtaposes his own anxiety with the historical, medical and societal trends of mental health illness. Through a first person narrative the author intimately draws readers into his striking mental breakdowns during major life milestones that include his wedding day. Similar to the candid writing styles of Patricia Pearson and Jenny Lawson, Scott Stossel provides readers with a truthful and honest glimpse into his anxiety-ridden life.

Jul 26, 2014

Whether you suffer from anxiety, or have a loved one who does, or are just curious as to what it's all about this is the right place to start looking. Stossel, in a no holds barred account of his own battle with anxiety explores the problem thoroughly and from the dawn of time. The book is replete with quotes like, "Anxiety is the most prominent mental characteristic of Occidental civilization." Stossel himself, with the help of his anxiety defines anxiety as "apprehension about future suffering - the fearful anticipation of an unbearable catastrophe one is hopeless to prevent." He attributes the blame to our abundance of choices. The paradox of choice is the idea that as the freedom to choose increases, so does anxiety.
This thorough examination of anxiety and its causes is bound to set many of us free from guilt about a condition we have no control over.

Jane60201 Apr 24, 2014

This seemed like such a long book and having read the Atlantic article by this author, I was loath to tackle it. I am glad I did. What I found interesting was not the vignettes of the author's own life but the intellectual history of mental illness that he so carefully researched. It makes one understand that the current "explanation" of a psychiatric problem is not necessarily the answer but part of an evolution of thought that will continue.

Feb 23, 2014

Excellent read - very informative, well researched, interesting and touching personal account. Recommend to anyone who has grappled with anxiety.

MaxineML Feb 13, 2014

Part memoir, part history and part exposition - this is a wide-reaching and phenomenal work on anxiety (and various other "nervous disorders") in modern society.

From ancient greek physicians and philosophers, to renaissance works on mental health, to the creation of the DSM versions 1 through 5, Stossel covers everything. The really fascinating aspects to the story were when Stossel brought it down to the personal level with discussions of his great-grandfather's struggle with anxiety, and his own lifelong struggle with anxiety.

The footnotes in this book are astounding in the information they give - some of them could probably have been integrated into the text itself, some were excellent asides. Parts of the book did get a bit technical and dry, but those were few and far between. However, I wish Stossel had been more comfortable discussing his own issues and treatments - this would have humanized the idea of anxiety, as well as the true struggles of people who have this disorder, as well as those with similar mental-health struggles.

Truly a great work - and I wouldn't be surprised if this is considered one of the best non-fiction books of 2014!

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