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Anxiety
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More people today report feeling anxious than ever before-even while living in relatively safe and prosperous modern societies. Almost one in five people experiences an anxiety disorder each year, and more than a quarter of the population admits to an anxiety condition at some point in their lives. Here Allan V. Horwitz, a sociologist of mental illness and mental health, narrates how this condition has been experienced, understood, and treated through the ages-from Hippocrates, through Freud, to today. Anxiety is rooted in an ancient part of the brain, and our ability to be anxious is inherited from species far more ancient than humans. Anxiety is often adaptive: it enables us to respond to threats. But when normal fear yields to what psychiatry categorizes as anxiety disorders, it becomes maladaptive. As Horwitz explores the history and multiple identities of anxiety-melancholia, nerves, neuroses, phobias, and so on-it becomes clear that every age has had its own anxieties and that culture plays a role in shaping how anxiety is expressed.
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A wise guide through the historical path of anxiety conceptualizations. -- Peter Conrad, Brandeis University

About the Author

Allan V. Horwitz is a professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University. He is author of Creating Mental Illness.

Reviews

An enlightening tour of anxiety, set at a sensible pace, with an exceptional scholar and writer leading the way. Library Journal What is fascinating about this book is less the facts it presents than its ambiguities: anxiety will always force us to question the lines between the normal and the disordered, nervousness and depression, fears and pathologies. Publishers Weekly Horwitz gives us some history and some insights to allay our fears about anxiety. And in helping us to understand anxiety, he opens new doors to coping with it as a chronic condition. -- Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spirituality & Practice Horwitz provides and ambitious book about anxiety with impressive breadth and depth in a very readable 161 pages... As a sociologist, I would incorporate Anxiety: A Short History into undergraduate or graduate courses on health and illness, mental health, or emotion. This book would also be quite valuable in a wide range of psychology, history, and other social science courses. And, as it is a very accessible yet intellectual book, a savvy reader with an interest in anxiety would enjoy it tremendously. -- Jennifer J. Esala PsycCRITIQUES Horwitz... provides a historical account of the universal phenomenon of anxiety in this extremely interesting book... In this expansive treatment (for such a small book), Horwitz reminds readers of the importance of distinguishing between normal and pathological anxiety. Choice Horwitz's touch is light and ironical and his scholarship impeccable, and the book is thoroughly to be recommended as a disease biography that gives the whole trajectory and leaves little of importance out. It is a book to be savored by disease buffs. -- Edward Shorter Bulletin of the History of Medicine Any new students or practitioners to mental health would benefit from this book. -- Ibadete Fetahu Nursing Times ... the definitive overview of the history of anxiety. -- Edward Shorter Bulletin of the History of Medicine Allan V. Horwitz's Anxiety: A Short History is a lucid, erudite and brisk intellectual history driven by a clear and persuasive central argument. -- David Herzberg Social History of Medicine This short book achieves its aims, neatly narrating the chronology of anxiety over various contexts. It also offers a good introduction to those wanting to know more about the history of anxiety and should prove to be a useful addition to the sociology of mental health, especially in relation to teaching and the development of scholarship in this important area. -- Esmee Hanna Sociology of Health and Illness Anxiety is fundamental to the human condition, an important component of who we are. With us for two millennia and more, it continues with us today, sanitized, medicalized, and highly prevalent. This book does a good job of explaining how that has occurred and the continuity of anxiety over time... [ Anxiety] is an excellent book, which I recommend. -- Lloyd W. Wells Metapsychology

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