The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Fear and Anxiety

Author Gordon Livingston discusses the psychological breakdown of fear and how it affects the lives of everyone.

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What are we afraid of and what can we do about it? A partial list of fears that I deal with in those seeking psychotherapy include: fear of dying, fear of change, fear of intimacy, fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of inadequacy, fear of time, fear of loneliness, fear of the unknown. With a little thought you can doubtless make your own list. Interestingly, anxiety, like its frequent companion, depression, appears to have an element of heritability. You are more likely to suffer excessive apprehension if other members of your biological family are similarly afflicted. No one is sure how this predisposition passes from one generation to the next or on what chromosome(s) it is manifest. Although we will probably find the answer over the next few years, will we then have learned anything about alleviating anxiety itself? This biological inclination is the reason that most treatment for anxiety includes the use of one medication oranother. Drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain, the SSRI antidepressants, are effective against chronic anxiety. Minor tranquilizers such as Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin provide significant short-term relief but have the disadvantage of chemical dependency. Psychotherapy also frequently helps, and it is about this process and what it teaches that I will have more to say. The best psychological antidote to anxiety turns out to be some combination of hope and courage. How these virtues are acquired, manifested, and taught are at the core of this
book. It is not easy to live a courageous life, and no one is brave all the time or in every circumstance.

The Thing You Think You Cannot DoFrom The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Thirty Truths about Fear and Courage by Gordon Livingston, M.D. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.


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