Your anxiety is unique
The question of anxiety is central to the work of psychoanalysis. It is only in the context of who you are, where you come from and of the therapeutic relationship, that we can begin to understand what anxiety means for you personally.
Be that as it may, anxiety broadly falls within certain classifications. Here I focus on those that emerge in my clinical practice:
Realistic anxiety (1) is the healthy mechanism by which we avert a threat, or potential threat, that is real: (eg, avoiding an accident while driving; to redouble our efforts in order to meet a deadline). Realistic anxiety is necessary to spur us on to strive or survive.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
Difficulties arise when anxiety has become a fact of our internal life and the backdrop to how we experience ourselves and external situations. It is a latent state of foreboding, a chorus of disapproval that throbs in the head and chest. Generalised anxiety sees danger where none exists and it takes offence where none is intended.
When unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear are accompanied by physical symptoms.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm has occurred or was threatened.
This is characterised by overwhelming fear and excessive self-consciousness in every-day social situations. Social anxiety is closely linked to shame and it perceives a latent or active threat in other people’s judgment.
The conflict is within ourselves
Those who suffer from anxiety are likely to be projecting their own internal state onto their surroundings. The world is experienced as a frightening place. Psychoanalysis seeks to explore the internal conflict, to understand its mechanisms and to dismantle old patterns of feeling and thinking that hold us in subjection.
Problems stored in the unconscious
Psychoanalysis looks for underlying causes. For example, what may have begun as a realistic anxiety in the past (in the case of a persecutory caregiver, or of having been bullied at school), may now have become a distorting prism through which the sufferer perceives themselves and the world around them.
Understanding and processing how and why your anxiety has evolved, (bringing what is unconscious into consciousness), is the first step to ultimately unburdening yourself of this powerful internal saboteur.
Ways psychoanalysis can help
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a process by which you will develop and improve the relationship you have with yourself. It nurtures internal growth, eventually dismantling as untenable what have evolved as inhibiting thoughts and feelings that dominate our internal and external lives.
Creating a new narrative
Psychoanalysis seeks to reset those distortions of perception that make us anxious as a way of being. Moreover you will discover over time that your development through the work in turn elicits new ways in which the world interacts with you.
(1) Freud, S., (1917) Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis in The Standard Edition of Complete Psychological Works, Vol XVI. Strachey, James ed. 2001. Vintage p392