Book Review: My Age of Anxiety

Book Review: My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind (Vintage) [Kindle Edition]
Scott Stossel

This candid book was a delight to read. This statement is not what you would expect for a book with “anxiety” in the title, but it is what it is. There are very few people who can claim to never have felt anxiety at even at some point in their lives, and good, no, great for them! But, for the rest of us who have felt anxiety in one or more of its several forms, there is something in this book for most.

One of the things that I liked the most about it is that it feels honest; that the author was brave to write it is an understatement. Not everyone has the integrity to paint themselves in a negative light, and make no mistake, we love in a society where “mental” illnesses are still stigmatized, even though each day there is more evidence that “psychological” conditions have a physiological substrate. It took a lot of guts to be so honest in such a public way.

The book is at times poignant, entertaining, but also quite informative. I liked the variety of quotes about anxiety from other writers, modern and classical. He correctly characterizes acute anxiety as debilitating. It absolutely is. It was very surprising to me to learn that anxiety had been a recognized clinical condition for only 30 years or so. This is especially surprising in the light that well-known thinkers like William James, Chuck Darwin and Sigmund Freud himself suffered from it for a significant part of their lives. I could go on; my copy if thoroughly highlighted, but I will let you explore its yourself.

My favorite sentence? “The truth is that anxiety is at once a function of biology and philosophy, body and mind, instinct and reason, personality and culture.”

Absolutely true!

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Credit: Vintage Books

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