The phenomenon of anxiety - Psychoanalysis. Modern deep psychology

Anxiety Phenomenon

In neo-Freudianism (K. Horney, E. Fromm), fear is a global irrational state associated with the irrationalism of social structures. In neo-Freudian, the discussion of the problem of fear is increasingly replaced by studying the anxiety of a person. It is considered as a dynamic center of neuroses.

Freud's followers also distinguished the fear that is caused by external factors, and fear deep, irrational. Anxiety, a sense of impotence and insignificance, especially doubts about their fate after death - all these factors create, in the opinion of psychoanalysts, an oppressive state of mind that almost no one can withstand. It is difficult to imagine a person who would experience such fear and at the same time be able to enjoy life and calmly look to the future.

Starting with the work of the American researcher Karen Horney (1885-1952), which points to the difference between fear and anxiety, many psychoanalysts began to give priority to the psychological conditions that give rise to anxiety. They study the mechanisms of protection from anxiety, ways and possibilities for resolving internal conflicts based on anxiety leading to neuroses. According to K. Horney, fear acts as a factor in the formation of neurotic types of personality, although it also has constructive characteristics.

Horney raised such questions: what are the signs of neurotic fears and defenses that make them specific neurotic? Or maybe neurotic fears are imaginary? Answering these questions, Horney calls two factors. First, the living conditions in each culture give rise to some fears. They can be caused by external dangers (nature, enemies), forms of social relations (growing hostility due to oppression, injustice, forced dependence, frustration), cultural traditions (traditional fear of demons, taboo violations).

Horney uses the term & quot; anxiety & quot; as a synonym for fear, thus indicating the kinship between them. Both of these terms actually mean emotional reactions to danger, which can be accompanied by physical sensations such as trembling, rapid breathing, violent palpitations. These sensations can be so intense that a sudden strong fear can lead to death.

However, between anxiety and fear there is a difference. When a mother, having found out that her baby has a pimple or a fever, is afraid that her child will die because of this, we are talking about anxiety. But if the mother is afraid of the death of a child who is seriously ill, you can call such a reaction a fear.

Some neurotics are fully aware that they are full of anxiety. Its manifestations vary in a huge range. It can manifest itself in the form of vague anxiety, in the form of bouts of fear. It can be tied to certain situations or actions, can have a certain content, for example a fear to go insane, get cancer, swallow a needle.

An obvious sign of anxiety is its irrationality. For some people, the very idea that some irrational factors can guide them is completely intolerable. So they will not tolerate on a conscious level the presence of any irrational moments. In addition to individual motives, this last reaction, according to Horney, contains the influence of the cultural factor, because our culture has a huge impact on rational thinking and behavior.

A person may be more or less prone to fears, Horney says, but on the whole it can be safely assumed that they are imposed on every individual living in a given culture and that no one can avoid them. Neurotic, however, not only shares the fears common to all people in a given culture, but because of the conditions of their individual lives, which are intertwined with the general conditions, he also experiences fears that qualitatively or quantitatively differ from the fears of a certain cultural pattern.

To reflect the fears existing in a given culture, in general, there are certain ways of protecting, including taboos, rituals, customs. As a rule, these protections represent a more appropriate way to deal with fears than neurotic defense, built in a different way. Hence the conclusion: a normal person can best take advantage of the opportunities that the culture provides him.

Of course, the distinction between fear and anxiety is arbitrary. K. Horney herself admits this when she says that, whether the reaction is proportional, depends on the average level of cognition achieved in a given culture. In addition, the neurotic will always be able to bring many rational arguments, which confirm his fears. A savage from a tribe in which there are taboos for eating certain animals will be mortally frightened if they accidentally eat forbidden meat. Of course, a person from the outside will seem strange. However, if you enter the world of this culture itself, look at the situation from the inside, the estimates may turn out to be different.

According to K. Horney, there is also a difference between the anxiety of savages, representatives of archaic culture, and anxiety, which today can be called neurotic. The content of neurotic anxiety, unlike anxiety in savages, does not correspond to generally accepted ideas. It is necessary to clarify the situation, i.e. understand the meaning of anxiety. So, there are people who feel a constant fear of dying. On the other hand, since they suffer all the time about this, unconsciously they experience a secret desire to die.

Hence the conclusion: both fear and anxiety are adequate responses to danger, but in case of fear, the danger is obvious, and in case of alarm it is hidden and subjective. In other words, the intensity of anxiety is proportional to the meaning that this situation has for a given person. The reasons for his anxiety, in fact, he is not known.

Is it possible to convince a neurotic that his anxiety is groundless? Unfortunately no. What does the therapist do in this case? He tries to reveal the meaning that a certain situation has for the neurotic. An ordinary person in our culture does not realize the importance of anxiety in his life. When neurotics talk about their anxiety, analysts get a rather motley picture.

The alarms are diverse. It can manifest itself in the form of an unclear feeling, in the form of attacks of fear. Remember in Pushkin: "Do not let me go God ..." Others realize that from time to time they experience anxiety. They may or may not know about the circumstances that cause it. Finally, there are neurotics who realize only the fact that they have depression, feelings of inferiority, disorders in the sexual sphere. But they do not fully realize that they have experienced one day or are now experiencing anxiety. However, analysis helps these neurotics to realize their anxiety or to recall troubling dreams and the situations that aroused their sense of fear. So, we can experience anxiety without knowing it.

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