- Anxiety was a philosophical concept before it taken up by psychology and psychiatry. The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard (1813-1855) argued that anxiety is part of human nature. Anxiety arises where possibility and actuality come into contact and the present touches the future. Anxiety is a product of having the freedom to make choices and act, and by doing so make a commitment to one’s identity, ways of being in the world, and standing in relation to other people. For Kierkegaard, anxiety can be an avenue to stand in relation to God. This is why he wrote, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”
One can bracket out the God dimensions and still learn something valuable from Kierkegaard, namely that anxiety can cause inaction, which is, in its most basic sense, a loss of freedom. What is possible may never actualize and one may lose the present by tending to an imagined future. One becomes immobilized and unable to meet needs and realize goals and aspirations.
- "Anxiety Is a Part of Human Nature", Psychology Today, (Mar 24, 2017).
- Profile page: Peg O'Connor Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter's, Minnesota