Summary

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the authors history of anxiety and the history of the efforts by scientists, philosophers, artists, and writers to understand anxiety.
As recently as thirty years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Drawing on his lifelong battle with anxiety, Stossel gives us an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand anxiety both from the medical and experiential perspective--from the earliest medical accounts (Galen, Hippocrates) through later observers (Robert Burton, Soren Kierkegaard) to the great nineteenth-century scientists who began to explore its sources and causes (William James, Freud). Included are accounts of individuals who struggled with anxiety (Charles Darwin, Samuel Johnson, Walker Percy), as well as afflicted generations of his own family. Stossels portrait of anxiety reveals not only the complexities and anguish it produces--he also shows the myriad manifestations of anxiety, as well as the countless therapies, medications, and treatments that have been developed to counteract it. And always Stossel returns to anxietys human toll--to its crippling impact, devastating power to paralyze, and yet at the same time how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it. My Age of Anxiety is an account at once humorous and inspirational, learned and empathetic, that exposes the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive and too often misunderstood. His masterly chronicle allows us to see the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.