Anxieties and Fluencies



As a concept anxiety is notoriously vague: psychologists who investigate the question regularly mention the obscurity with which it is surrounded. Freud himself returned to the question again and again. In 1926, acknowledging the difficulty of finding a criterion for distinguishing false assertions about it from true, he suggested beginning with simple statements, such as ‘anxiety is something that is felt’, or ‘we call it an affective state, although we are also ignorant of what an affect is’.1 During his observations thirty years before he had found anxiety to be accompanied by fairly definite physical sensations, particularly connected with the respiratory organs and with the heart.2 But despite all the discussions that had taken place since then the question of its nature had remained as puzzling as the even more difficult one concerning the origin of neurosis; and the situation has not changed radically since his time.


French Revolution Human Psyche Moral Evil Healing Contemplation Subterranean River 
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3 Anxieties and Fluencies

  1. 4.
    See Paul McReynolds, ‘Assimilation and Anxiety’, in Emotions and Anxiety: New Concepts, Methods, and Applications edited by M. Zuckerman and C. D. Spielberger (Hillsdale, NJ, 1976) pp. 35–86 and refs.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (NY 1953–7) II, 442–3, quoted with further discussion by Zachary Leader, Writer’s Block (1991), p. 33 and n.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Boswell, Life of Dr Johnson edited by G. B. Hill, 1934, revised L. F. Powell (Oxford 1964–71) II, 330–1.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    S. Whyte, A Miscellany, containing … remarks on Boswell’s Johnson … (Dublin 1799) p. 49.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    E. J. Morley (ed.), Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb, Etc., being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabb Robinson (Manchester 1922) p. 22Google Scholar
  6. 21.
    Jacob Boehme, Aurora. That is, the Day-Spring …,translated by J. Sparrow (1656) ch. xi, para 132.Google Scholar
  7. 79.
    Emerson, ‘The Poet’, Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson general editor A. R. Ferguson (Cambridge, Mass. 1971-) m, 4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Beer 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeUK

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