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My Age of Anxiety [Kindle Edition]

Scott Stossel
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Kirkus (starred review)
“In this captivating and intimate book, the editor of the Atlantic spares no detail about his lifelong struggle with anxiety and contextualizes his personal experience within the history of anxiety’s perception and treatment….Stossel deftly explores a variety of treatments and their risks and successes, providing unique insight as both a journalist (whose priority is impartial investigation) and sufferer (whose imperative is to feel well). Throughout, the author’s beautiful prose and careful research combine to make this book informative, thoughtful and fun to read. Powerful, eye-opening and funny. Pitch perfect in his storytelling, Stossel reminds us that, in many important ways, to be anxious is to be human.”

Booklist (starred review)
“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, transcendence. Absolutely fearless writing.”

Daniel Akst, The Wall Street Journal
“Excessive anxiety, it turns out, is like most things that beset humans: partly nature and partly nurture. And it may even have its virtues. Worriers tend to be conscientious, sensitive to others and detail-oriented. These can be useful traits in many aspects of life: in marriage, say, and in the workplace. They appear to be useful in an author as well, judging by Mr. Stossel's achievement in "My Age of Anxiety."...In dissecting his own acute case, along with the disorder that afflicts him, he offers a degree of understanding to the rest of us—along with a modicum of comfort and even hope to those who must trudge through life chronically anxious despite their seeming good fortune.”

The New York Times
“Ambitious and bravely intimate…A thrilling intellectual chase.”

Jen Chaney, The Washington Post
“By combining such unfiltered honesty with deep reporting, Stossel has delivered an enlightening, empowering read. But all of his disclosures serve a higher purpose, too. His candor about his sense of unrest—as well as his gnawing, conflicted feelings about admitting to it—serve as the foundation for his investigation into the panic and apprehension that afflict millions of Americans….The word ‘brave’ tends to get thrown around pretty cavalierly in our culture, but given the frankness of this book, there’s no other appropriate word for what Stossel does here. It’s brave, and, as Dr. W. suggests, potentially therapeutic for individuals other than the writer himself. I can personally attest to that.”

Steve Danziger,
Open Letters Monthly
“The most accurate representation of the anxiety sufferer’s mindset that I’ve ever come across….I suspect that much will be made of Stossel’s bravery, but praise should be given to his literary achievement and the arrival of a substantial, if challenging, voice capable of elucidating the 130 year history of “magic” pharmaceuticals….The book is a startling achievement.”

Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, The Seattle Times
“Scott Stossel’s new book on his lifelong struggle with severe anxiety is outstanding in the fullest sense of the word. ‘My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind’ is both conspicuous and superior within its genre. Stossel, who also wrote a fine biography of Sargent Shriver, brings his dogged fact-digging skills to this work, which is peppered with humor and humility, remarkably balanced—and generous to the point of philanthropy with his deeply personal, hard-won knowledge. Plus, the man is a lovely writer.”

David Adam, Nature
“Books exploring personal experiences of mental illness tend to be either over-wrought accounts of personal trauma that shed little light on the world beyond the author’s nose, or the more detached observations of scientists and medics. It is rare to find works that bridge these objectives, which is one reason that the writer Andrew Solomon achieved such success with The Noonday Demon….Stossel’s book deserves a place on this higher shelf.”

Matt Price, Newsday
“‘My Age of Anxiety’” is a brave—and quite possibly perverse—book, one that will leave you squirming and fascinated in equal measure….There is much pain here, but humor, too….Without meaning to, Stossel has written a self-help manual. There is no miracle cure for anxiety, he suggests—we can manage our fears and worries, even if we can never quite tame them.”

Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe
“On the one hand, the book is astonishingly thorough and lucidly written. It’s a fascinating look at that linchpin of the human condition—the primitive fight-or-flight response—and how it resides in our psyches in a time of IEDs and SSRIs. Rare will be the reader who doesn’t spot him or herself somewhere in Stossel’s sweeping analysis, as he digs into parenting styles, performance stress, talk therapy, medication, depression, fear of flying, blushing, you name it. On the other hand, you have to wonder if “My Age of Anxiety” is so good, so copiously reported and completist, in large part thanks to Stossel’s harsh expectations of himself....His perpetual agony has become our reading pleasure.”

Publishers Weekly
“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.”

“Amazingly candid and compassionate…A comprehensive study of anxiety—how people saw it in the past, how scientists and psychologists understand it today, and what if anything can be done to cure it.”

“ extraordinary literary performance....It is also—I hope I don't sound like a publicist—extremely useful....In an age inundated by memoirs and psychic self-help books, My Age of Anxiety is the rare memoir that tells an entirely compelling story, and the rare self-help book that really helps. You, and many thousands of readers along with you, will laugh until you cry.”

Amy Bloom, O Magazine
“Scott Stossel’s erudite, heartfelt, and occasionally darkly funny meld of memoir, cultural history, and science, feels excruciatingly relevant….Stossel, the editor of The Atlantic, is a wry, if distressed, chronicler of his own history and that of psychopharmacology. It’s been a long and in many ways frightening journey for him. Still, near the end of the book, in a chapter titled ‘Redemption,’ Stossel attempts to see the upside of anxiety—the links between it and creativity, productivity, morality. His therapist advises him to give himself more credit for being resilient, and it seems he does. He concludes with hope that ‘admitting my shame and fear to the world’ will ultimately be ‘empowering and anxiety reducing.’ We hope so, too.”

Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
The editor of the Atlantic magazine, Stossel has suffered from debilitating anxiety and phobias since childhood. With humor, insight and intense research, he sheds light on the disorder that is believed to affect one in seven Americans. From a historical overview to a review of current treatments in a book laced with fascinating personal anecdotes, Stossel delivers authentic perspective on such suffering."

Canadian Living
“I don’t like to tell people that they need to read a certain book, who am I to tell you what to do? But today I am breaking that rule because Scott Stossel’s My Age of Anxiety: Fear, hope, dread, and the search for peace of mind is a must-read for anyone who is dealing with anxiety.”

Elle Magazine
“A carefully reported, wryly funny, and admirably honest historical and personal investigation”

Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
“Scott Stossel has produced the definitive account of anxiety, weaving together science, history, and autobiography. His writing is evocative and often witty, disarmingly intimate, and wonderfully empathetic. This story has needed to be told, and Stossel tells it with edgy frankness.”

Daniel Smith, author of Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety
“Scott Stossel is a wreck, but he’s a gorgeous wreck: honest, curious, compassionate, and obsessively, almost neurotically, well-informed. He’s gone deep into the history and science of anxiety and produced an invaluable work, full of compelling detail and truly hard-won wisdom. I learned a great deal from this wonderful book.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
“Most of us at some point have suffered from anxiety. Some of us have felt it severely; others have felt it often. But an unlucky few—like Scott Stossel—live with minds that are constant storm-tossed seas of dread and shame. It could not have been easy for Stossel to dissect his own anxiety so honestly in this memoir. But he was brave as hell to write it, and I'm glad he did, for he brings to this story depth, intelligence, and perspective that could enlighten untold fellow sufferers for years to come.”

Ben Mezrich, author of the New York Times Bestsellers The Accidental Billionaires and Bringing Down The House
“Fascinating and hugely entertaining, Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety is a brilliant look into one of the most prevalent conditions of our time. An intense, incredibly brave narrative tinged with moments of outright hilarity, it's impossible to put down; anyone who has ever suffered even the mildest bout of anxiety is going to be captivated by the author's quest to understand the sometimes twisted workings of his own mind. Without a doubt, Stossel is one of the most screwed up individuals I have ever encountered-and this book is one of the best I have read in years.”

Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln's Melancholy
“What adjectives shall I use to describe Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety? 'Brave,' certainly. 'Erudite' and 'trenchant' also come quickly to mind. But for those of us who suffer from anxiety—and for families, friends and colleagues—maybe the single most important description is 'useful.' This book is staggeringly, brilliantly, indispensably useful.”

Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Peirce Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of the international bestseller Stumbling on Happiness
“A combination of rich intellectual history and emotionally raw memoir, My Age of Anxiety is smart, poignant, and deep. A beautifully written, expertly researched, and unflinchingly honest account of one person’s battle and many people’s war. Highly recommended.”


A riveting, revelatory and moving account of one man's battle with anxiety, and a history of the efforts to understand the condition by scientists, philosophers, artists, and writers, from Freud to Hippocrates and from Samuel Johnson to Charles Darwin.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book on the history of anxiety 25. Februar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
It took me 20 pages to overcome my disappointment. This is not a personal and emotional tale about dealing with anxiety (as suggested by the title), but an intellectual tour de force through the philosophical, cultural and medical history of anxiety. A book that doesn't reduce a “psychiatric disease” to a medical problem. Stossel is incredibly thorough in his search from Aristotle to up to date neuroscience (what he left out, you can find in Richard U‘Rens book). Yet, there are a couple of personal issues I would have liked to find out more about: how did he manage such an outstanding professional career with his infliction (he is the editor of the Atlantic)? How does his wife cope with his anxiety? Where did he put his anger about decades of fruitless therapy? How can you write a book about anxiety and not one time (he must have the journalistic tools) try to evoke the feeling in the reader? In general his descriptions about his bouts of anxiety are more funny than frightening. Well, I guess there is room for a second volume of a more personal tale.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  315 Rezensionen
172 von 180 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Philosophical Debate of Anxiety 23. November 2013
Von M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
First the good news. In Scott Stossel’s excellent book, he points out a major study that people with generalized anxiety disorder have much higher IQs than the average population’s.

The rest of the news in this very readable book isn’t so good for anxious depressives like Stossel, a lifelong depressive, worry-wart, and multi-phobe, his worst fear being emetophobia, the fear of throwing up.

Stossel exercises a lot of candor discussing his dyspepsia and inner demons as he consults hundreds of sources, firsthand and otherwise, to give us a tour of the many theories behind chronic anxiety with an engaging narrative that reminded me of Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss.

The main philosophical debate is this: Should we embrace our anxiety as part of our existential condition, seeing anxiety as a “calling,” a way of enhancing our life, struggling through the demons, and facing the great meaning of life questions? By muting our anxiety with pharmaceuticals, are we being lazy cowards, relinquishing the great existential quest before us? Or does the pain and suffering from biologically-induced anxiety merit a pharmaceutical solution to give relief to those innocent sufferers?

With fair-minded intensity, Stossel explores this debate and concludes that while he is a lifelong taker of anti-depressants, he overall feels there is an existential purpose to anxiety and shows a lot of research that warns us that pharmaceuticals can be highly addictive, can be hell to go off with severe withdrawals, and only work on one-third of the people who take them with serious side effects.

Interlacing major anxiety research with his own compelling narrative, Scott Stossel has written a masterful account of anxiety and its existential and pharmaceutical challenges. Highly recommended.
67 von 69 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Thorough, fascinating, and a great read 16. Dezember 2013
Von Joanna - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Who knew that Freud, Darwin, Gandhi and Moses all suffered what could be viewed as anxiety disorders at times? Or that many other great achievers did as well, including Harvard deans and the Atlantic editor who wrote this tome? If you dread public speaking, suffer nervous stomach, obsess over phobias, or hail from a family of worriers, "My Age of Anxiety" might very well make you feel better. The author has been through all of that plus a hundred times more, including losing bowel control at the Kennedy Compound one weekend when he was conducting interviews and getting raw sewage all over their guest bathroom, its rug, and himself. He grew up with a morbid fear of vomiting and, lucky for us readers, exceptional powers of self expression and research. The book chronicles his own life struggles and study of anxiety and is both highly readable and tremendously informative, just like an award-winning Atlantic article on the subject would be.

No matter how much you've read about anxiety, this is likely to offer something more either in the very moving and often stunning personal account or the thoughtful analysis and detail. The book excels in what it covers, mainly the medical model and treatment of anxiety and Mr. Stossel's own hellish experiences. Where it falls somewhat short is in providing enough information on how a man so encumbered by intrusive symptoms and insecurities could manage to excel at Harvard and become a successful editor of a national magazine.

There's also not much on the benefits of exercise, mindfulness meditation, self compassion, or dialectical behavior therapy, and I'd like to see the author delve into these more, as he has other treatments, and report back, both for his own sake and for ours. These strike me as some of the most promising areas for finding relief and perhaps even the ever-elusive 'cure' Mr. Stossel has sought. A few books I've found quite helpful that aren't in his bibliography: The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life's Challenges; The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook); and Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.

Despite a few approaches that weren't fully explored, this is a book that can change your world view and adds tremendously to the literature. Scott Stossel comes across as a wonderfully interesting, funny, driven, self-revealing and vulnerable fellow traveler who has done us all--and the understanding of anxiety itself--a great service in writing this. I think his family is to be commended, too, since they and parts of their most private lives are exposed in the story whether they sought that or not. Any parent (or sibling or offspring) should understand how welcome that might be and also that their loved one's perspective--or any individual's--is by no means the only truth. Five stars and highly recommended.
83 von 93 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Relatable & Readable; Best Survey / Memoir I've Read in Decades 19. Dezember 2013
Von S. L. Smith - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
You do not have to be one of the 40 million Americans* with an anxiety disorder to appreciate Scott Stossel's My Age of Anxiety. Whether or not a reader believes anxiety is worthy of a prized DSM slot and a handshake from Big Pharma, chances are we've all felt its claws at times. Anxiety and stress do seem to be the current Modern Human Condition. (* Source: NIMH dot NIH dot GOV, using US Census data)

Stossel combines survey and memoir so engagingly that I occasionally forgot the topic was how unmanageable anxiety had made his life. I like that his presence throughout the book is not intrusive, or worse, pitiable. He does not overwhelm with dry history and there is no hard lobby for a cause or a position. There is humor and authentic humanity here; most importantly, there is also hope.

In the first few pages, Stossel shares that he has known anxiety since the age of 2. Has anything worked? Surprisingly, no, or at least not for any length of time. And in the last pages, he admits that writing this book is in part self-therapy. In between these auspicious pages Stossel covers:

~ ~ ~ the definitive nature of the beast (Is it an illness? A disorder? A conditioned response?), his own manifestation (the rather common fear of throwing up and sometimes actually doing so; Darwin suffered similarly), famous people debilitated by anxiety (Gandhi, Donny Osmond, Hugh Grant, Freud, Lucille Ball), pharmaceutical interventions (from analgesics and alcohol to tranquilizers, sedatives, a preservative for a Penicillin mold, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and antidepressants), panic attacks and how a drug "creates" a disease, how certain anti-depressants and anxiolytics are not as benevolent as once thought (from ineffectiveness to hideous withdrawals and side-effects), genetic v. environmental contributors, the danger of becoming so crippled by anxiety as to become non-egotistically self-absorbed, and finally, coming to terms with the highly likely possibility that one might never really come to terms with their disorder. ~ ~ ~

Footnotes are in abundance, yet they are truly helpful and (mostly) briefly appropriate. Only rarely does My Age of Anxiety come close to "too much information" (talk of anal retention, quoting his mother admitting that she did indeed withhold affection deliberately from Stossel). The last two chapters on Redemption and Resilience are somewhat bittersweet. Stossel considers the advantages and opportunities bestowed upon him by anxiety. I find it so hard to see it that way through his eyes; I know too well how anxiety ruins too many lives with its dubious "gifts" and "blessings".

Scott Stossel describes himself as "a textbook case" of anxiety. And now he has written a textbook-worthy composition on the topic. My Age of Anxiety is worthwhile reading, and I genuinely hope it was worthwhile for him to write. Mostly, I hope it fulfilled his wish that it would in some measure - ANY measure - reduce his own distress.

Really, a recommended read.
24 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Well Balanced, Informative, Interesting and at times, downright funny! 5. Januar 2014
Von javajunki - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Can a book on anxiety be funny? Yes! Throughout this book I found myself laughing - not only at the uncomfortable, anxiety producing tales and woes of the author but also at the cringe inducing recognition of many of my own challenges which make the book resonate so well. But make no mistake about it, this is an informative and thought provoking book which just so happens to also be delightfully honest, brutally insightful and tragically accurate in its portrayal of severe anxiety as well as the surrounding controversy as to the definition, treatment and politics/finance surrounding the topic.

I also must applaud the author for his courage in relating some of the stories as well as the open way in which he shares his own personal struggles both past and present. There is so much "talk" about breaking the stigma of various forms of mental illness yet as a society...and remains all but taboo to openly admit to these types of inner conflict, fears and anxieties.

Who Should Read this book...
1. Those that suffer in silence. Just knowing that you are not alone in the struggle against acute anxiety is a comfort.
2. Those who live or work with someone who suffers from acute anxiety.
3. Professionals who are open to a very insightful glimpse into the "other side" of the coin/desk.
23 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen 2.5... I don't like most of it, but there are gems of good material here and there 1. Februar 2014
Von Raychel - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
This book could be several books... the author's personal account of anxiety, a clinical account of anxiety, and an historical account of anxiety. Oh and maybe a separate book for the footnotes. The biggest problem I had with this book, is it seemed that the author was trying to do too much within one book. It felt a little messy and jutted back and forth between topics too much and too often.

The author shares his own personal stories of his battle with anxiety. One one hand this is by all means a brave thing to do, especially considering some of the stories he shares. Anyone with anxiety can tell you that 'coming out of the closet' so to speak about anxiety and anxious behaviors can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. On the other hand, the author, in maybe an attempt to poke fun at himself and the bizarre effects his anxiety takes on, perhaps overshares to a point that his own personal accounts start to become awkward and cringe worthy, especially his preoccupations with vomit and crapping himself. Maybe it is because I do not share these anxieties and do not understand them, I am not sure but at certain points I just wanted him to move on instead of spending another 5 pages detailing a phobic reaction that involved more vomit and more poop. In that regard this is also a very selfish book because the author spends more time detailing phobic/anxious reactions that he himself experiences instead of taking on a broader range of anxiety issues. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for readers, I mean this is his book and what he wanted to do, some people will like it and others won't.

From a clinical perspective any psychology student will be familiar with a lot of the information in this book concerning the psychobiology of anxiety and depression, nature vs nuture debate, medication etc. And if you didn't study psychology, well this book provides a good overview of what you would learn about anxiety if you had. It is very obvious the author has spent years reading research studies and versing himself in all that is anxiety.

To me, the most interesting parts of the entire book was the historical look at anxiety and its treatments. These were the times when I would get sucked into the book and really start enjoying it and learning something I didn't know. Unfortunately these sections were much too short for my liking and would often end with getting sucked back into either something clinical or personal. Had the author written a historical account of anxiety and its treatment as a separate book I think I would have been absolutely fascinated, as I think he really can do the subject justice.

I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book, I'm one of those people that if the title appeals to me I will often give it a look and if the first chapter or so appeal to me I'll follow through. This is not a self help book. This is not a book that is likely to make you feel any better about your own anxiety, but it will definitely show you at the very least that you are not alone. It is a biography of anxiety with clinical and historical information regarding the nature of anxiety.
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