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My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,339 ratings  ·  422 reviews
A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author’s struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition

As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Knopf (first published December 31st 2013)
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Robin "The Man Who Couldn't Stop" by David Adam is a surprisingly funny and candid memoir of living with mental illness, specifically OCD and the anxiety of…more"The Man Who Couldn't Stop" by David Adam is a surprisingly funny and candid memoir of living with mental illness, specifically OCD and the anxiety of unwanted thoughts. It is a fairly quick read and I found many similarities between the two books.
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Will Byrnes
Scott Stossel has a problem, anxiety. Big-time. Had it all his life. Think decades of therapy of the talk and chemical varieties. But, he has also had a successful career as a journalist, and is currently the editor of the Atlantic magazine.
Anxiety, when it’s not debilitating, can bring with it certain gifts: a heightened awareness of your environment; more sensitive social antennae; a general prudence about risk-taking; a spur toward achievement. The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard believed that
This is perhaps the best book on anxiety I've ever read. For one, Stossel suffers from anxiety (in many forms) and has done so for most of his life, so he knows first hand what it is like to have one or more anxiety disorders. Further, thanks to mastery of an investigative reporter skill set, he researched the dickens out of anxiety, from its potential neurological, social, environmental, ad infinitum causes and summarizes these causes in a very readable and understandable way. He also talks abo ...more
I heard Scott Stossel interviewed on WHYY's Fresh Air with Terry Gross in early January (here, have a listen: Terry Gross Interviews Scott Stossel and I immediately put My Age of Anxiety on reserve at the library. This calm, articulate, engaging writer touched my heart. So much so that I had an anxiety attack while walking and listening to the Fresh Air podcast.

Reading this book led me to the beginning of a few more. I had to set the book aside, get out of bed on a few occasions, and work my he
I don't talk about it to any great lengths around here, but I've struggled with anxiety and depression in different ways and at different levels of intensity since I was a teenager. It largely went unaddressed -- and though I struggled, I thought was mostly doing okay not addressing it -- until the summer I turned 26. That’s when I had a full-scale meltdown that rendered me, essentially, a non-functional human being for the better part of two years. Only a few of my closest friends and two thera ...more
I need to think about this book some more. My first reaction is that I didn't really like it, but I'm struggling with articulating why, and I haven't quite figured out if that's mostly just frustration with the author for seeing the same therapist for 25 years with little positive result, or if there's more to it than that.

Ok, I think I've figured it out. The author inserts himself into the narrative as a case study, but he actually does a very poor job of discussing his treatment in the con
If you have an anxiety or panic disorder or know someone who does, read this book. The author exhaustively researched the history, genetics, and role of "nurture" of anxiety. Up until perhaps 25 years ago, anxiety was not considered a real condition (ask any psychiatrist who has been practicing for many years) and was called by many other names such as "hysteria" and "neurosis". If you have anxiety, the information is priceless and the author's own memoir contributions about his own anxiety is c ...more
Diane S.✨
3.5. The author has suffered from anxiety for most of his life, as did his mother before him. He definitely knows what he is talking about and this is a well researched book. What I found very surprising is that there are so many different definitions of anxiety that even the experts do not agree on this or the treatment. As well as family background and personal stories, the author includes many interesting factions on phobias and the famous people who had some strange ones. Also, some famous p ...more
Sarah Novak
I didn't dislike "My Age of Anxiety," but I found it frustrating. Scott Stossel is a good journalist as well as a life-long anxiety sufferer. He brings together research from science & humanities and weaves it together with his own experience as a patient. Theoretically, I like this kind of book, but empirically, I don't think it worked here. I enjoyed "The Noonday Demon" and "The Happiness Hypothesis," which cover similar territory. Stossel's book is good as a sweeping/meandering overview o ...more
This is a scrupulously researched, historically sweeping, and deeply personal examination of a--what? disease? aberration? normal part of our humanity?--that afflicts an increasing percentage of the population.

I picked it up because I, too, have been afflicted, though not in nearly so devastating way as Scott Stossel. The book is part memoir, part sociological study, and part cultural treatise. Stossel doesn't hold back in revealing his own struggle with anxiety from the age of eleven. But his
“Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, has written an all-encompassing treatise on the condition of anxiety, one of the most pervasive yet most misunderstood human conditions. Stossel not only recounts the history of the condition itself, its causes, and its treatment, but bravely relates his own lifelong battle with anxiety. Sits well alongside other works on mental health like Daniel B. Smith’s Monkey Mind and Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon, and highly recommended for anyone who struggles ...more
This is a long book. Perhaps too long to really hold my attention but there is no doubting it is very well researched.

The parts I found most interesting were whether anxiety is genetic or inherited. Like the author, I can trace anxiety back in my family and it has manifested itself in the next generation. When the author talked about how his own young children were showing early signs, that did strike a chord with me as same thing has happened with one of my children.

The author is American and h
I heard Scott Stossel on NPR and he was so funny and intelligent and articulate that I immediately wanted to read his book. In many ways, Stossel is a hot mess - and he bravely writes about his experiences here. (And I mean bravely. He is brutally honest about his anxiety.) He is afraid of cheese, vomiting, and airplanes, along with numerous other things. Despite his struggles, he's the editor of the Atlantic and this book is a well-researched, well-written and compelling account of both his own ...more
In short, I have since the age of about two been a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears, and neuroses. And I have, since the age of ten, when I was first taken to a mental hospital for evaluation and then referred to a psychiatrist for treatment, tried in various ways to overcome my anxiety.

Here’s what I’ve tried: individual psychotherapy (three decades of it), family therapy, group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), rational emotive therapy (RET), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT),
Carlos Rivera
I truly recommend this book it's simple I know about depression and even more about anxiety I am living with it everyday. Sometimes it's hard to explain to people what you have or feel so after reading this book I just have to give them a copy or tell them to read it. Sometimes I was reading and it was me, any person that deals with anxiety knows what I'm taking about and this book is a true example a living one and it's so great writing that I was just angry I did not write it myself :)
Some peo
Dan Harris
Fascinating, important, and beyond brave. Bravo.
John Braine
I have a history with anxiety disorders / social phobia to the degree that I was out of work for a year in my twenties, and went to a mental health clinic 5 days a week. It took many years to get back to some kind of normality. I still suffer from anxiety. But I've just learned to deal with it and accept it. Or sometimes I keep it hidden, sometimes not. I also now have a daughter with another form of anxiety called selective mutism. Despite all that, I didn't seek this book out. It just popped u ...more
I enjoyed reading this, and I read only a little non-fiction of the Malcolm Gladwell/Bill Bryson/pop science variety. My one main criticism is that the author beats his own issues so relentlessly into your head that you are left incredulous a) that such a profoundly disabled and neurotic soul could have the wherewithal to accomplish anything at all let alone have a major career b) suspicious that perhaps the reason he has never been able to "cure" or at least mitigate his own anxieties (which ar ...more
This book is very thorough and extremely well-researched, so much so that I underlined passages every few pages and filled it with sticky bookmarks. Very informative for anyone who suffers from or knows people who suffer from anxiety, covering historical, philosophical, social, psychological, medical and scientific aspects. It took time to finish because I had to leave it and come back to it a couple of times (some parts feel very close to home). In any case, it is a fascinating read.
I bought this book impulsively with my birthday book token, having opened it in the shop and read that one of author’s main anxiety symptoms is emetophobia (fear of vomiting). Since I also experience this and had never read mention of it elsewhere, this was curiously reassuring. Indeed, if you suffer from anxiety, this book is a curious mixture of worrying and calming. On the one hand, Stossel has an especially severe manifestation of anxiety and recounts many other horrifying case studies as we ...more
A very interesting and well written history of how medicine, philosophy and the pharmaceutical industry have dealt with anxiety, along with, of course, the author himself.

I really enjoyed this book - if you have ever suffered through anxiety on any level you can't help but relate to Stossel's struggle. Having an intellectual explore their condition from a number of perspectives, yet be forced to nonetheless suffer despite that knowledge brings up many interesting questions about the rational min
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"My Age of Anxiety" is part memoir, part exploration on what anxiety is and its history. Anxiety affects many people and is often hidden. I saw Scott Stossel speak at the 2014 Gaithersburg book Festival and he was speaking about his book my age of anxiety. His talk really hit home for me because I also deal with anxiety on a daily basis. It's not particularly fun but through this book it so that helped me understand what was going on a little bit more.

As I said, this book is part memoir and par
Albert Stern
As a proud DSM-IV-TR #300.02, I was eager to read this one. It's a very comprehensive exploration of the subject, from historical accounts to current thinking. He has a very good sense of how much detail is the right amount, which I as a reader appreciate above all else in this kind of book. However, what I don't appreciate as a reader is the footnoting. Virtually every page has a footnote, which is very distracting. While he's a good, clear writer, he is a poor storyteller. A better storyteller ...more
In an age when we spend billions of dollars on psychotropic drugs, the title of this book drew me in. The author himself has lived with crippling anxiety since childhood and his history, along with personal anecdotes, treatments, and therapies are included in the book (often amusingly), along with a vast amount of research into anxiety disorders. Nature vs nurture and genetics is covered along with the history of the disorder and how the definition has changed over the years. Some of the most in ...more
Jennifer Hughes
God bless Scott Stossel for laying his heart open here for the world to see--like televised emotional open-heart surgery.

I've been enjoying The Atlantic for a couple of years now and appreciate Stossel's excellent work there as editor. Reading his article last month that was excerpted from this book is what made me pick this up at the library. I think the article was the better length for me, though, because although I am interested in the topic of social anxiety, and Stossel is an excellent wr
Anne Jordan-Baker
I loved this book. Read it in under two days, which is pretty fast given it's pretty long. I especially loved the science herein. However, the long detailed descriptions of the author's various anxieties--and there are many--made this really hard to read at times. His anxiety is also very resistant to many treatments, so his suffering just continues. I ended up skimming these parts of the book and just relishing the science of anxiety and mental disorders in general. For me a page-turner that I ...more
Scott Goldman
A MUST READ for anyone who has anxiety or knows someone who does! I have learned SO MUCH from this distillation of history, philosophy, and scientific research into the subject of anxiety. The author bravely shares his own personal experiences with anxiety, which brought the subject to life. Because of my own history with anxiety I could relate to much of what was discussed in this book and it made me feel better knowing I was in no way alone struggling with these issues. This book taught me to ...more
Sid Johnson
Outstanding combination of academic research and personal narrative exploring every corner of the concept of anxiety. You won't find simplistic answers here, but you will find an elegant presentation of a complex subject. Belongs on every therapists bookshelf and highly recommended for anyone suffering from worry, anxiety, fear, panic, OCD, or PTSD. You will find, in these pages, that you are far from alone, and it may well put your own anxiety in perspective. Above all, an incredible display of ...more
Brittany Wilmes
I enjoyed reading this book more than I'd like to admit...but then again, I struggle with anxiety more than I'd like to admit. Stossel's courage in writing this book made me laugh, gave me insight, and made me feel profoundly validated in my experiences with anxiety and panic. Despite feeling very well-read on the subject, I gained much from Stossel's impressively researched and painfully honest account of anxiety in his life and our society. I'll certainly be returning to this book, both for co ...more
Scott Stossel did a remarkably brave thing. He wrote a tell-all book on himself. Here is a self-described cringing coward who has seen his therapists more than any other person in his life. Yet in some remarkable fashion he risks his career, respect, and self-image to craft the most thorough exploration of phobias, neurosis, anxiety, and psychology itself I can imagine. Or beyond what i could imagine.

Name a perspective on this broad topic. He covered it. If you feel therapy is useless, so does h
I really appreciated the blend between memoir and layman's science text that this book provided. I think anyone suffering from anxiety likes to hear how others suffer and struggle to cope, because it gives them ideas on what they might try, as well as provides a sense of community, a sense that "I am not alone." When you are deep in anxiety, it definitely can feel like you are the only person in the world who has ever felt this way, and it is important to discover that you are not, and that ther ...more
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MHA Niagara County: Persisting through anxiety 1 1 Jul 28, 2015 10:26AM  
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“To some people, I may seem calm. But if you could peer beneath the surface, you would see that I'm like a duck--paddling, paddling, paddling.” 21 likes
“social phobics are better at picking up on subtle social cues than other people are—but they tend to overinterpret anything that could be construed as a negative reaction.” 5 likes
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