Dr. Stanley Goldstein - Author and Psychologist

A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Anxiety Disorders, and the Retreat from Relating to Unconscious Motivation

May 1, 2017

Tags: Anxiety, unconscious

This past weekend’s edition (April 29-30, 2017) of the Wall Street Journal contained the review of a book describing the author's painful experience with anxiety (“On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety” by Andrea Petersen). Her long-term symptoms included the usual: multiple fears, and non-medically caused, odd bodily sensations.
After years on various medications and (apparently brief) cognitive-behavioral therapy, her life changed. She is now happily married with a career and “adorable 8-year-old daughter…have friends, laugh a lot, go to parties.”
Implying a genetic root to her problems, she alludes to the difficulties, ranging from psychotic to neurotic symptoms, of her grandmother, aunt, and parents.
Her view of treatment is largely biological, referring to multiple medications and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation research. She slights her early therapist who asked if she was angry with her father.
Despite this supposed epidemic, anxiety disorders are (generally) not a big deal and relatively easily treated. Yes, like all emotional symptoms, they are painful. And frightening too since they can cripple a person’s Executive Function, which governs behavior.
Incidentally, a Panic Disorder reflects severe anxiety in which the symptoms of anxiety are misinterpreted as a deadly medical event. Many people who rush to a hospital’s Emergency Room, fearing that they are suffering a heart attack, are in the throes of a psychological not medical crisis.
As I never tire of stating: The unconscious is very powerful and one must respect its power.