Soren Kierkegaard and The Psychology of Anxiety


“Así como podría decir el médico que no hay una persona enteramente sana, podría también decirse, conociendo bien a los hombres, que no existe ni una sola persona exenta de una desesperación, un conflicto interno, una desarmonía, un temor sobre algo desconocido y que ni siquiera se atreve a llegar a conocer, una ansiedad de algo externo o un temor a sí mismo… una ansiedad inexplicable” El título del poema de W. H Auden de 1947: “La Era de la Ansiedad” es seguramente una de las frases mas apropiadas para capturar el ambiente que se vivía en esos tiempos Los trastornos de ansiedad son uno se los padecimientos sicológicos más comunes de hoy en día. Aún así, para aquellos que no los padecen inclusive, sentimientos moderados de ansiedad persisten a menudo durante gran parte de nuestro día. La mayoría opina que la ansiedad es un estado emocional sin valor positivo, y en consecuencia muchos intentan aliviar sus sentimientos de ansiedad mediante frenéticas acciones, estimulantes distracciones o mezcla de drogas recetadas y recreativas. Sin embargo, aquellos que se han dedicado a estudiar esta emoción, han encontrado que el papel que juega esta emoción en nuestras vidas no es tan claro y simple. “No hay duda que el problema de ansiedad es un punto nodal en el cual las mas variadas e importantes preguntas convergen, un acertijo cuya solución arrojaría un torrente de luz sobre toda nuestra existencia mental.” En este video intentaremos vislumbrar el problema de la ansiedad recurriendo a las ideas del gran filósofo danés Soren Kierkergaard Para comprender la ansiedad, es útil contrastarla con el miedo, que son respuestas emocionales a las amenazas percibidas. Sin embargo, los tipos de amenaza que desencadenan estas emociones son diferentes. El miedo generalmente se desencadena por una amenaza que conocemos y que se encuentra en algún objeto o situación externa. La ansiedad, por otro lado, consiste en la sensación de estar amenazado pero incapaz de saber de dónde surge el peligro. La fuente de nuestros temores generalmente puede ser localizada, pero la ansiedad, en palabras de Rollo May, “nos ataca por todos lados a la vez” Por lo tanto, el miedo agudiza los sentidos y nos prepara para una reacción de fuga o lucha, mientras que la ansiedad, dada su causa desconocida, paraliza los sentidos, inhibe la acción y nos deja ajenos a cómo disminuir nuestra incomodidad Debido a la desorientación involucrada, hacer frente a la ansiedad severa es una experiencia agonizante. La mayoría de las personas, sin embargo, se libran de las torturas de la ansiedad severa, pero pocos pueden escapar de la forma más leve de ansiedad que impregna el fondo de nuestra existencia diaria. Para diferenciarlo de la ansiedad severa, esta forma más común a veces se llama “angustia” o “ansiedad existencial”, y en lugar de intentar aliviarla, Soren Kierkegaard considera que es un ingrediente indispensable en una vida que se desarrolla con todo su potencial. “Si el hombre fuera una bestia o un ángel, (escribió) no podría sentir ansiedad”. Como él es a la vez bestia y ángel, puede estar ansioso, y cuanto mayor es la ansiedad, mayor es el hombre “. (Soren Kierkegaard, El Concepto de la Ansiedad) En su libro “El Concepto de la Ansiedad” Kierkegaard sugiere que nuestra capacidad para sentir ansiedad existencial emerge con el nacimiento de la autoconciencia. En nuestro estado de infancia, el crecimiento implica la actualización de los potenciales latentes dentro con poca o ninguna reflexión consciente o elección de nuestra parte. En cierta etapa del desarrollo, despertamos a la autoconciencia, o para ponerlo en términos simbólicos representados en el mito de Adán y Eva, comemos el fruto prohibido del conocimiento y tomamos conciencia no solo del bien y del mal, sino de la posibilidad de libertad. Empezamos a comprender las innumerables posibilidades que tenemos ante nosotros, y vemos cómo la búsqueda de cada una de ellas abriría una puerta hacia un desconocido diferente. Esta conciencia de libertad en medio de un número casi infinito de posibilidades genera ansiedad. O como lo expresó Kierkegaard: la ansiedad es “el mareo de la libertad”. Kierkegaard compara el mareo que se siente frente a una posibilidad ilimitada con un hombre parado al borde de un acantilado sobre un abismo. Junto con el miedo de caer accidentalmente a su muerte, experimenta ansiedad al darse cuenta de que es libre para saltar. Frente a todas las posibilidades de la vida, nosotros también nos encontramos en un acantilado metafórico sobre un abismo, conscientes de “la alarmante posibilidad de poder” (Kierkegaard). Entendemos que es nuestra libertad ante la posibilidad, o nuestra capacidad de saltar si así lo decidimos, lo que nos otorga control sobre nuestro destino. Pero nos sentimos ambivalentes con esta libertad. Nos atrae el poder que nos otorga, pero repelido por las demandas y confusiones que nos impone. Y entonces solemos alejarnos de la libertad y negar su existencia, o, como dijo Kierkegaard, “captamos la finitud” (Kierkegaard). Vivimos como si el mundo y nuestra situación en él estuvieran vinculados e inmunes al cambio. Esto puede servir para aliviar la ansiedad, pero a costa de nuestro crecimiento. Para avanzar en la vida es necesario estar abierto a las posibilidades, pero esto implica experimentar el mareo de la ansiedad. Sin la capacidad de coexistir con la ansiedad y actuar en presencia de ella, no podríamos perseguir riesgos, explorar lo desconocido y determinar los límites de nuestras capacidades. No podríamos permanecer abiertos al futuro y elegir entre las posibilidades que se nos presentan, ni poder utilizar nuestro poder para crear nuevas posibilidades que nunca antes han visto la luz. “Aprender a conocer la ansiedad (escribió) es una aventura que todo hombre tiene que afrontar … Por lo tanto, quien aprendió correctamente a sentir ansiedad ha aprendido lo más importante”. (Soren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety) Pero si decidimos huir de nuestra libertad en un intento de librarnos de la ansiedad, evitando las posibilidades que nos esperan, sucumbiremos a la desesperación. Una vida sin posibilidades y libertad es estéril, genera estancamiento y nos libra de la esperanza de un futuro mejor. Por lo tanto, dado que la posibilidad y la libertad solo son posibles con la presencia de ansiedad, sería aconsejable prestar atención al consejo de Kierkegaard y aprender a estar ansioso de la manera correcta.
O como explica el psicólogo James Hollis: “Por lo tanto, nos vemos obligados a tomar una decisión difícil: ansiedad o depresión. Si avanzamos, como insiste nuestra alma, podemos estar inundados de ansiedad. Si no avanzamos, sufriremos la depresión, la presión del propósito del alma. En una elección tan difícil, uno debe elegir la ansiedad, ya que la ansiedad es al menos el camino del crecimiento personal; la depresión es un estancamiento y una derrota de la vida “. (James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul)

100 thoughts on “Soren Kierkegaard and The Psychology of Anxiety

  • On our website we now provide a gallery (and links to the source) of all the art work used in the videos. View the art work used in this video here: http://academyofideas.com/2018/02/soren-kierkegaard-psychology-anxiety/

  • We already know the cause of anxiety which lies in evolutionary biology. Simply put, we are wired to react to threats in our environment, today the threats are mostly imagined, thus most of our anxiety is based in imagination AKA projection AKA neuroses.

  • Kierkegaard, one of the best Existentialist & forefather in certain domains of psychology! Time to watch the video LOL!  
    Ive asked a long time ago but you'll hear it again. Please do one on Erich Fromm or Rollo May. I know Rollo May was mentioned once but Erich Fromm has many points to add on various subjects you've discussed! Anyways, love your videos, keep it up man.

  • As someone with crippling anxiety who is learning not to be crippled by it, this gives me some great perspective and insight. Kierkegaard rules. Thank you.

  • the best part about this channel is that the entire video is just content. no irrelevant intros, outros, transitions, animations, etc.- just the actual content of the video

  • Anxiety, like any emotion, is there to motivate you to take action. If you understand the source of your anxiety.

  • Brilliant.
    Absolutely brilliant man.
    You have done the work some of our more kinesthetically oriented beings cannot bare through, & made it both understandable & applicable for us.
    Sub'd.

  • I believe the cliff which presents the possibility of jumping should be accredited to Sartre. Although, I suppose he could have taken his scenario in Being and Nothingness from Kierkegaard. P.S. I am very grateful for your videos. Any advice on reading the concept of anxiety? I have picked it up several times and the problems he is concerning himself with in the beginning are so difficult for me to follow, I end up setting it down. Its very different from Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death.

  • At the end, James Hollis makes a good point, but, I think the key is to find balance between depression and anxiety, not to fully embrace anxiety.

  • I've always wondered what's the meaning behind "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom” now I got what Soren was trying to say and totally agree.

  • Anxiety comes with the knowledge of just how fragile and easily broken we are. I have had enough anxiety for three lifetimes. I'll avoid it like the plague…you can deal with it.

  • Your channel never ceases to amaze me. I've been a long time subscriber — maybe not with this account — and I've followed your trajectory from the time you had few subscribers. It's rewarding to see you thriving. Well deserved and keep it up.

  • it's been said but I'll say it again, Beautiful.
    This channel is a monument and a testament to the beauty of knowledge; of life. And this video is exemplary.
    Thank you.

  • Freedom or liberation is supposed to be free of anxiety. Otherwise we wouldn't seek freedom but the comfort of confinement. I think anxiety rises out of the confinment.
    Liberation is the gift that comes from consciousness.
    Anxiety can be a motivation. Is it releavable? Temporarily yes.

    This video reminds me of 'The paradox of choice' and the anxiety that comes from this "boundless possibility".

    Haha! Fucking love your videos

  • think phenomenology is a reaction against anxiety. Phenomenology's intentionality blocks out all knowledge outside of the specific objects are investigated. Of course consciousness in its full capacity includes non-intentionality. But it will allow the scientist to study the non-objects. I wonder what would a non-objects look like? There must be a proto-phenomenological method to investigate it.

  • Holy shit! Thank you so much. you hit the nail on the head by bringing those collection of thoughts to the table!! THANK YOU X

  • Really interesting, but it’s ironic that so many people are diagnosed with both anxiety and depression. That probably says a lot about the day jobs that many feel enslaved to in order to survive.

  • I'm moving forward. I will not stagnate. A difficult but also beautiful time lies before me. I could continue to fight for the past but I will spare myself the grief and focus on another for I am forced to.

  • Fenichel (1945) described anxiety as "simplest compromise between drive and defense"; the anxiety motivating defense becomes manifest, while the "reason for the anxiety" remains repressed….

  • this channel has changed my point of view on so many different things and is my new go to youtube channel when im travelling and if i dont have anything better to do. its truly great someone actually puts effort to his youtube vids. thank you

  • Anyone else think Kirkegarrd a poor thinker? For myself I'll take a Schopenhauer any day. Does this make me a bad person? Am I going to hell?

  • I needed to watch this. Truly I did. My anxiety has been ramped up to 100 lately. I'm more engrossed in Hermetics and the esoteric in general as of late. I felt the anxiety creep up on me. Now I realize why. Thank you.

  • Unbelievably incite-full. 4:19 The confusions freedom imposes on us can be paralyzing … how do you get through that paralysis without turning back ? Is it that you must decide once and for all what paths you must give up in order to choose a single path to take? Is the confusion really about the inability or the difficulty of sacrifice? Just thinking out loud.
    Thanks for the great content .

  • I look in the mirror and Anxiety stares at me.My I is anxiety.I am myself Anxiety.I trust none nor myself.Its disorientating.I am Anxiety in body flesh and spirits.Where does this originate?Living is Anxiety.

  • I am coming more and more to the conclusion that suffering is to be pursued – not just endured where it arises, but actively pursued – if one wants to become great

  • Wow. "Unless you're an angel or a beast, anxiety will be part of all human existence in some form. " The acceptance that everyone experiences that brings peace.

  • For me the anxiety that Soren is talking about is the anxiety of your first day in middle school or the anxiety of starting a new business and the doubt starts to creep in or someone challenging their own core values. Then there’s the social anxiety which is probably still the same thing, where people feel they’re being judged or stared at etc. I think that manifests when people actually do think they need some improvement but don’t act on it . Also I’ve noticed a trend in people today they claim to suffer from some anxiety or something along the lines but I feel it’s a claim to individualism. This is my opinion i don’t suffer from anxiety unless it lands along the lines of the first thing I mentioned.

  • As someone who has overcame a great deal of anxiety, I believe being present is the best medication. Learning to be aware of your surroundings & self, not anxious about the future nor worried about the past but taking in each moment inhaling and exhaling reminding oneself that nothing even matters. We're just people having an experience before we pass.

  • It is good to remember that one is not on the cliff edge alone,that conscious humanity is together in these experiences.Thank you very much for your videos,inspiring work.

  • I don't know what his lifestyle choices were but I would add healthy nutrition, vigorous exercising and minimal media & social media exposure to the mix. Probably would lessen that anxiety cool people choose. Not sure if it's the best way to live to just spin some concepts in your head and ignore taking care of your body. Spin 'em and get jacked I say!

  • Great video!

    Nice to see you quote James Hollis. I've read all his books and seen him speak about 5 times over the years (he's an excellent speaker, btw, if anyone out there has a chance to see him in their hometown, would highly recommend!).

  • Balance anxiety is needed physically mentally to survive, homeostasis of subconscious with conscious..autonomic response

  • Difference of euro perspective…anxiety is oppressive not exciting and motivating because of insecurity of survival as an individual.

  • Anxiety is a lack of exercise,an excess of energy. Tribal humans do not experience it, as they are super fit. Get a gym pass.

  • I’ve just stopped drinking after almost 3 decades solid boozing.
    Just realising now how anxiety triggered some of my most speculator drinking bouts and 2-3 day benders.
    Time to face up to anxiety!

  • Anxiety is,something,that, plagues ,all of us.living with it,is,not,an potential choice,but ,a Must, for everyone,of us

  • The moment your video ends, it feels like I've gotten a proverbial front kick to the chest…a very hard one.

  • This is one of the most helpful to me of many of your talks. As a young man in the 70's, I was a studio drummer in NYC and worked at two major studios to which I was meeting artists I had albums of as a teen. My anxiety level was always very high and prompted me to aim higher in my talents to give what the engineers and artists what they required for their music. Then later to wind up on the big stage, my anxiety levels met a new high, and the choice for me was to either just keep a beat and be labeled mediocre, or as a famous admiral said…. Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!. I chose full steam ahead and from 1976 to 79 was labeled one of the top drummers in NYC at the time. I'm not sure if being a firstborn had anything to do with it, but maybe it helped. However I always thought my anxiety was a defect in my being, but now understand my choice of what to do with it was my road to achievement . Thank you so much for your talks and will share them on social media sites I frequent.

  • Kierkegaard was strictly speaking and referring to existential anxiety. When he wrote the concept of anxiety in 1844. Without a doubt in a relative sense one of the greatest writers to show themselves to me in my life.

    “And no Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as has anxiety, and no spy knows how to attack more artfully the man he suspects, choosing the instant when he is weakest, nor knows how to lay traps where he will be caught and ensnared, as anxiety knows how, and no sharp-witted judge knows how to interrogate, to examine the accused as anxiety does, which never lets him escape, neither by diversion nor by noise, neither at work nor at play, neither by day nor at night.” 
    ― Soren Kierkegaard

  • helped me with the problem I was having for quite a few months. Thanks a lot. It's like rowing your boat anyway in the chaotic storm instead of remaining at the same place trying to defend yourself.

  • "We are ambivalent towards this freedom, we are attracted to the power but repelled by the demands and confusions it imposes on us." this statement hit me like a truck because of how much it implies to my life right now. Love this channel make me look at my life and how I can change.

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