Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Stossel (editor of The Atlantic and a freelance writer) takes an interesting approach to describing anxiety disorders. As a magazine editor and journalist, he did copious research for the book, revealing numerous facts most readers are not likely to know about various kinds of anxiety. However, he departs from a purely objective, dispassionate account of anxiety disorders by boldly revealing his own battle with panic disorder and specific phobias. In an unflinching way that truly compels one to keep reading, Stossel shares the story of his lifelong struggles with anxiety in its various manifestations, along with that of his family members and notable personalities. In doing so, he helps readers gain deeper insight into the phenomenology of such disorders in a fashion similar to that of Peter Kramer, who shared the world of psychiatry from his perspective after the advent of Prozac. Thus, the book engenders empathy for the author and all who experience such disorders. It further helps readers question the nature of anxiety on both a philosophical and a lived level. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates; professionals; general readers. A. L. Bizub Elmira College
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Stossel, editor of the Atlantic magazine, is a very nervous man trying awfully hard not to be. I have since the age of about two been a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears, and neuroses. He suffers from lots of physical symptoms and a panoply of phobias (most notably, a fear of vomiting). I'm like Woody Allen trapped in John Calvin, he confesses. Psychotherapy, multiple medications, and alcohol provide incomplete relief. He ponders the possible causes of panic attacks and anxiety: a strong genetic component, environmental influences, and childhood upbringing. He wonders whether anxiety is purely a psychological problem or something else a medical disease, spiritual disorder, cultural phenomenon, or evolutionary survival mechanism. For a layperson, he has considerable knowledge about prescription anti-anxiety drugs (perhaps based on three decades of using them). Tying together notions about anxiety culled from history, philosophy, religion, sports, and literature with current neuropsychiatric research and his extensive personal experience, Stossel's book is more than an astounding autobiography, more than an atlas of anxiety. His deft handling of a delicate topic and frustrating illness highlights the existential dread, embarrassment, and desperation associated with severe anxiety yet allows room for resiliency, hope, and transcendence. Absolutely fearless writing.--Miksanek, Tony Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Stossel, editor of the Atlantic, leads a jittery, searching tour through the most common mental disorder in the world: "a function of biology and philosophy, body and mind, instinct and reason, personality and culture." As an acutely miserable and anxious 10-year old, Stossel began an early journey through various therapies and medications. His experiences with these treatments doubles as an accidental history of how science, psychotherapy, medicine, and the culture at large have attempted deal with anxiety's psychological riddle: persistent fear with no "concrete object" of which to be afraid. Stossel's work features biographical sketches of famous anxiety cases like Charles Darwin and Samuel Johnson, and a rigorous survey of the foundations of anxiety research, from Freud to attachment theory to the "chemical imbalance" model of mental illness, alongside discussions of the biological, neurological, and genetic roots of the condition. Stossel's journey through his own life is unsparing, darkly funny (a nervous stomach tends to flare up at the worst times, like in front of JFK Jr.), but above all, hopeful. As with many sufferers, Stossel's quest to find relief is unfinished, but his book relays a masterful understanding of the condition he and millions of others endure. Agent: the Wylie Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.