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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  6,045 ratings  ·  690 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 guide
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Knopf (first published January 2014)
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Islam Shazly The author draws a considerable amount from books and works of great minds that either themselves suffered from anxiety disorders or wrote extensively…moreThe author draws a considerable amount from books and works of great minds that either themselves suffered from anxiety disorders or wrote extensively about it or both. Some of the quoted works date back to Greek times. The bibliography and notes in the back of the book are both exhaustive. I am certain you will find something in there that will also benefit you.
P.S. the author is a male.(less)

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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
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Anxiety and heroism, or what happens in the brain when neurons fire the different way.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Julie Christine
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
Jessica Jeffers
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
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Funny, full of fascinating historical, medical and psychological bits and bobs and, as someone who has struggled with anxiety all his life, and has been having a really shitty time of it the last few months, unexpectedly helpful.
Sarah Novak
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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 of th ...more
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, own, favorites
I highly recommend this book to anyone who suffers from anxiety and related conditions like phobias, depression, panic attacks, etc.
Julie Ehlers
I’m not entirely sure what drew me to My Age of Anxiety. Although I did go through a period of anxiety a couple years back, it was thankfully relatively brief and mild, so reading an entire book about the subject was probably not essential in my case. Regardless, this book was extremely informative on the topic, comprising both a history of anxiety under its various names and guises, and a personal memoir of Scott Stossel’s ongoing struggle with the disorder. Some of this was really interesting ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 ☔
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would like to write a more elaborate review of this book. Unfortunately, I have read it a long time ago and can't remember many details. Specifically, I can not tell you about the complex explanations dealing with the neurological and genetics sources of social anxiety.

What I can tell you is the following: this book will really help if you suffer from anxiety. Before reading this book, I thought that my condition was unique. Since my childhood, I had a lot of feelings that I could not tell any
Dan Harris
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, important, and beyond brave. Bravo.
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
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: december-2013
“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
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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),
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
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very informative, but a little too long. I like that Stossel included a lot of research, personal stories, historical references, and medical jargon, but at the same time, there was too much information to slog through. Regardless, I feel like I learned a lot about myself, and those around me dealing with anxiety, which was the whole reason for reading this book. I would recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about the beast we call "anxiety;" however, I would first recommend lo ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The book is wonderful because it works on so many levels. It is, at the same time, a deeply moving personal journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, a very informed round-up of current research into anxiety disorders and their status in western culture, and a beautiful story about the way anxiety disorders have been defined and rationalised through 24 centuries of western history.
It made me realise and accept the innate irrationality hidden deep inside us all and that it's all part of what
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book turned out to be way more of a trudge than I'd hoped. While some of the information was interesting, the excessive number of lengthy footnotes constantly took me out of the rhythm of reading and began to feel like poor editing. Either fit it into the actual text or eliminate it. I deal with perhaps higher levels of anxiety than most (though certainly less than Scott) and I often found myself feeling more anxious while reading this.
Leah Rachel von Essen
I read My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind with some anxiety that this book about anxiety would make me anxious. But I also hoped that Scott Stossel’s part-memoir, part-history-of-anxiety would provide me with some insights into the mental illness that follows me around my life, with its dread and catastrophizing. While I did feel that some things were lacking or left out from this book, Stossel’s book taught me a lot I didn’t know about anxiety, the way scient ...more
Ashley Catt
Before this begins to sound overly negative, I have to state that, if not much else, this book is compelling. Finishing it today, I managed about 180 pages of it, without putting it down on the train (admittedly this has been a day where I've spent about six hours commuting).

However, I feel that this book is very flawed, no matter how interesting it may be. Despite pharmaceutical treatments of anxiety comprising a large section of this book, Stossel appears to be highly biased against them, and
Hank Stuever
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
As forthcoming as he is, I kept getting the sense that the author was holding back certain details -- it remains a mystery to me how the worst of his symptoms, as he describes them, were and are something he can keep private, thanks to medication and alcohol. He was an emotional wreck in middle school and high school and yet he keeps mentioning having friends, being social, moving through life essentially unimpeded. He's doing better, frankly, than many of his peers. There are sports, there is a ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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