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date: 27 May 2022

p. 11. What is anxiety?locked

p. 11. What is anxiety?locked

  • Daniel Freeman
  •  and Jason Freeman


‘What is anxiety?’ asks what anxiety is; what it feels like; and what its purpose might be. A brief history of anxiety takes us from its Latin roots, through the increased interest in ‘nervous illnesses’ in the 18th and 19th centuries, to the German term ‘angst’ used by Sigmund Freud and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Scientists generally agree that anxiety is a basic emotion affecting our thoughts, our bodies, and our behaviour. Key theories are highlighted: Charles Darwin's research on expressive behaviours, Walter Cannon's ‘fight or flight’ theory, Peter Lang's ‘three systems’ model of anxiety, and the mental health professionals' definition of anxiety in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

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