Relating mental health physical health; anxiety is not the same as having a cold.
… but our current psychological/scientific mental health paradigm would make us believe that it is similar.
Fear and anxiety are often used somewhat interchangeably. Yet in that psychological literature, They are not the same. The influential existentialist psychologist Rollo May asks the question whether or not For a client right in front of us, that is as opposed to philosophical speculation, could we be able to discern in the client between their fear, and the anxiety that shows from it.
Fear is fear of something. Where as anxiety has no object.
In my other posts I talk about how popular discourse, popular culture, commandeers or usurps power from originary discourses, from basic meaning. I even put this phenomenon in terms of modernity. It is to identify the modern method to say that what is true becomes real. (Read Alain Badiou for an excellent rendering I have this motion.)
Such is the case with anxiety. We always hear and we talk about how I’m “anxious because..”. But that is not really a proper anxiety. I am anxious, really, Becuase I am feeling not becuase.
That is the irony. We want to address and solve our anxiety by finding a fundamental cause of it. The very human and logical method which would say that we need to find a cause of any effect, and then we can that’s address the effect. Very medical model. And indeed, ultimately, often enough really the only thing we can do to solve anxiety is take a Xanax or a Valium or smoke some weed, among other chemical solutions. But that is an entirely different discussion. It doesn’t so much as solve the anxiety as allow us a certain myopia. Well like I said, different discussion.
Similarly, There is a kind of therapeutic intervention or approach, called positive psychology, which views anxiety, and indeed all mental health issues, as having an object that we can address. If you can address and alter the object of the thing that’s getting in the way of mental health, then your mental health can become better.
I submit that this approach to mental health stems from a want for mental health to be the same as physical health, where I have a pain in my gut, I can point to my inflamed liver, for example.
And this is OK. All I’m really saying is we need to get more discerning about what we are really talking about when we talk about mental health. People who address mental health should be more particular and identifying as to what they are really addressing so far when they talk about or assume that there is this general human being who is having mental health issues and here they are going to propose a remedy for it. I feel it creates great confusion, and actually works to perpetuate problem more than it really works towards significant help. It might help some people, but it would probably help exponentially more people if people who are proposing to help around mental issues or more specific about who they’re actually addressing. That is, as opposed to merely saying that I am proposing a solution to “anxiety”.
I hope that resonates for you readers.
The more astute reckoning of anxiety understands that anxiety has no object. We generally put this in the sense of why is someone that would have anxiety when they’re just walking down the sidewalk. Sure, we could ask the person and the person could come up with a number of fears.And, we could say that this person is
Having anxiety because of their over concern with all sorts of various fears, then I’m going to be hit by a car, that a dog is going to run out and bite me, that I might step my toe, etc. And, we could say that this person is having anxiety because of their over concern with all sorts of various fears, then I’m going to be hit by a car, that a dog is going to run out and bite me, that I might step my toe, etc.
But then what we have as a person listing a series of fears. It doesn’t matter whether they are unfounded or founded, because indeed everyone lives their life under the umbrella of having to be concerned about the various contingencies that could arise out of nowhere.
The person suffering from this kind of anxiety cannot be said to be suffering because of their fears, because of their irrational fears, so to speak.
So it is that anxiety is not like the common cold. We definitely can point to various objects that manifest the cold itself and its symptoms. We can address the symptoms and help the main object of the cold itself to go away. We can even directly address the object of the cold through various types of supplements.
And yet in mental health, when we approach anxiety in this way, more often the anxiety persists, mutates, comes up with other reasons other fears.