This book is about anxiety from various viewpoints spliced with the author's stories grappling with his symptoms, which are voluminous and detailed. He likes listing things. He likes giving many facts. He likes seeking other's opinions. There are chapters devoted to chemicals, biological genetics and behavioral genetics, diagnoses, and therapies and medication. He says he's tried it all. There is some varied perspectives for anyone interested in learning a bit more about the voluminous and complicated subject of anxiety.
What didn't work well was that each time a chapter ended, having presented some compelling evidence about anxiety, the author would reject it with a sentiment like, "of course, this did not help me," or, " this is out of date or debunked." I kept waiting for something to click or be summarized about why he did not get help from these things. His 25 years in one therapy did not help. His CBT extinguishing therapy did not work. He writes how a nurse actually blamed him for the treatment not working. Blame is the last thing an anxious person needs. After that experience he did think privately, and write in this book, that the nurse was a b----h, but he could not say or make a complaint about his treatment to someone. That actually is the type of thing that is interesting in this book. It's the things that are missing that can shed light on the nature and endurance of anxiety. He said he tried every type of therapy, including freudian and dynamic therapy but he didn't say anything about them, although he did critique Freud while quoting him frequently. I wished he'd have given an account of all his therapies and said why he thought they did not work or help him. But, I guess if he knew why they did not help he might not have to write this book.
The pursuit of happiness... Keep pursuing... Cheese... Lactose I tolerant...
This book is very interesting and helps you understand what a person with anxiety goes through during a life cycle. Well researched and the information is presented so that a lay person can understand. The author gives examples of the sort of things that can trigger and cause a panic attack or anxiety.
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.
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.
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.
Excellent read - very informative, well researched, interesting and touching personal account. Recommend to anyone who has grappled with anxiety.
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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