Thursday, January 12, 2012


Whee, this is important, I thought, when I saw the cover of my magazine.

Whoa, my Dr. Em self thought, as I delved into the 7 pages on WHY ANXIETY IS GOOD FOR YOU.

It's words, words, words defining, re-defining, explaining brain areas, hypothalamus, pituitary-adrenal (HPA), stria terminalis (BNST), amygdala, cortisol, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the relation of all this to DNA, white blood cells, hormones, and stress -- the kind that's self defeating, the other kind that inspires you to meet and conquer a stress-creating challenge.

Time magazine employs some very skilled, experienced writers whose articles I read, but often end up skimming because ... well ... maybe it's because I don't know enough -- too many references and abbreviations often keep me from understanding what the point IS, in the article. For me, it's as if I've bought a ticket to a play with an interesting title, good cast, even star names, but the plot ...? After I've met the cast, I can't connect with the drama. Even as I wonder if it's my ignorance, I blame it on the playwright, director, producers and sneak out of the theater at intermission.

Richard Stengel, the managing editor of Time, in my opinion, is a commercially-minded boss. He's in tune with the times. He knows what's hot or getting hot, and features topics that will sell, that get people to buy the magazine. Undoubtedly Stengel deals with his own anxieties daily, because every week he's putting together an action-packed, information-packed 70 to 90 pages of stories, pictures, and ads that will attract age 10 -100-year-old readers.

For this cover story seven authorities, at seven major anxiety treatment centers were consulted. If you need help coping with your anxiety, browse this list: Sally Winston, co-director of the Anxiety & Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland (ASDI); Elissa Epel, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco; Reid Wilson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, director of the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center; Michael Davis at Emory University; Dr. James Abelson, director of the Stress & Anxiety Disorders Program at the University of Michigan; Dr. Craig Smith, chairman of the department of surgery at Columbia University Medical Center and New York--Presbyterian (Bill Clinton's heart doc); Diego Pizzagalli of Harvard Medical School, director of the Center for Depression, Anxiety & Stress Research at McLean Hospital.

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe -- whatever is near you, that's where to go!

I perked up when the article referred to stage fright -- the churning stomach, sweaty hands, fearful thoughts like "Will I forget my lines? can I do that pirouette? can I produce the tears? will I get the laugh?" I was glad the article mentioned the sometimes HELPFUL use of anti depressants, sometimes DETRIMENTAL use of them, and encouraged us who feel anxiety, to practice converting scaredy-poop thoughts (my term) into positive thoughts. For instance, when the stage manager calls "places please," and you're ready to die -- you need to tell yourself, "Stop worrying, you always feel like this, the last time I felt like this you got a rave review."

It was seven pages of blah-blah -- not helpful, not serving any purpose -- just categorizing anxiety with words and acronyms, saying, if you are anxious, you better try not to be, otherwise you'll feel worse."

Famous wise men such as Soren Kierkegaard have said anxiety is "dizziness of reason." T.S. Eliot called it "the handmaiden of creativity."

Dr. Em says, If you are anxious, turn the page and make yourself think about something else.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Em
Kierkegaard explains WHY ANXIETY IS GOOD FOR ... us. Maybe, none read Kierkegaard.

Carola said...

Coping with anxiety has been my biggest issue my whole life. I like to do backup plans: If the worst really happens, these are the steps I will take.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and informative blog today Em. I take Loritab daily for pain so I feel no anxiety at all. Everything is relaxed and calm-no worries and no pain-carefree and smiles. When I was in plays-I remember the last minute stage frights. And ANXIETY should reach an all time high this year in the American people trying to vote in the presidential 2012 election and waiting anxietly to see who wins. We all are anxious to see America back on it's feet again.... kam

Carl Watts said...

Good article. Some anxiety is normal. Trying times key the body up for danger. Stage fright is a universal phenomena. Even after you succeed, it can effect you (so I'm told).

Time Mag's sole purpose today is to sell drugs and perhaps a few other items. Count the pages (include the body care products) They are fear merchants, merchants of chaos.

Anxiety is not good for you ever! If times says it is, they lie, again.

Keep writing :-)

Ameer S. Washington said...

The article must have sucked 12 balls. I had to skim all the names, and all those medical acronyms meant absolutely nothing to me. I swear as I read the writing of so many columnists, I feel like I should be writing. I wonder, did the article even prove why anxiety is good? Or was it another one of those things we all already knew that somebody just wanted to reiterate? I would tend to lean toward the latter.

Gennady said...

Have you seen that this cover of Times was only for U.S. Edition while for the rest of the world (EULA, Europe, S. Pacific, Asia) it was different?

Might be it would be more advantageous to use the picture from:!/OccupyWallStNYC/status/140273857314570240
as well as juxtapose the article against fallacy (as well as demagoguery, sophism, brainwashing, scamming, defrauding, cheating) techniques:

Chris Holmes said...

The handmaiden of creativity, I like that! But what all these psychology 'worthies' don't seem to realise is that we hypnotherapists cure (yes, I said CURE!) anxiety reactions all the time - including stage fright, which I can wipe out in one session for most people. Likewise panic attacks.

Words, words words - preferably long and difficult ones... knowledgeable-sounding ones.. for psychology labels, and makes 'difficult' that which it cannot cure.

They don't work with the Subconscious mind, that's why. That's the difference.

natural remedies for anxiety said...

yes, but you know there are natural remedies for relieving your self from anxiety. so why not try them rather than comforting your self that there is a very good benefit in having an illness such as anxiety.