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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Theories about anxiety


Really fascinating idea on why anxiety seems to be so common these days.

Consider the evolutionary context that anxiety involved in: it created a fight or flight response to deal with short-term emergencies that almost always had obvious solutions. For nearly our entire ancestral past, we’ve had problems that had clear solutions. Did that nearby bush slightly move? Anxiety and stress created a sense of urgency and alertness and caused you to investigate this short term problem. Is there a wild animal nearby? Anxiety can save the day for this black and white problem as well. The stress response causes tunnel vision and intense concentration for the duration of the danger. You get the idea. These “ancestral” examples are practically endless.

Now consider modern problems and how potentially long-term and uncertain they are. We are practically flooded with such issues as we age.  

"Mental pain is elusive. Financial woes, an uncommunicative spouse, existential angst—none of these stressors necessarily yields to a single simple solution. Neither fight nor flight is satisfactory. While stress arousal is a fitting mode to meet emergency, as an ongoing state it is a disaster."


We have a coping mechanism that was created to deal with problems that no longer exist (outside of very rare situations)...

“Far more common is psychological pain—affront to one’s self esteem, apprehension, loss. We meet these pains with an alarm system tuned by millions of years of more primal threats.”

Quotes from  Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception

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