A Brief History of Anxiety...Yours and Mine [NOOK Book]


Ask anyone who suffers from chronic anxiety, and they will insist that their affliction isn't visible to the naked eye. Our fears are private, arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and anxiety, as such, is a lonely predicament. Patricia Pearson's funny, rueful, and inquisitive book reaches out to all who suffer from anxiety disorder or love someone who does.

"A wholly satisfying mix of memoir, cultural history and ...
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A Brief History of Anxiety...Yours and Mine

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Ask anyone who suffers from chronic anxiety, and they will insist that their affliction isn't visible to the naked eye. Our fears are private, arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and anxiety, as such, is a lonely predicament. Patricia Pearson's funny, rueful, and inquisitive book reaches out to all who suffer from anxiety disorder or love someone who does.

"A wholly satisfying mix of memoir, cultural history and investigative journalism." --Kirkus
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Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
Like 40 million Americans, Ms. Pearson suffers from anxiety, which she pithily calls "fear in search of a cause." Her own case fascinates her, and quite rightly. It presents her with the opportunity to examine modern civilization and its discontents, as well as her own miseries, which she does, thoughtfully and incisively.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Novelist and nonfiction writer Pearson (When She Was Bad) was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at 23 in 1987; she had suffered a nervous breakdown after discovering that her lover was sleeping with another woman. In a rambling fashion, she traces the roots of her anxiety to a youth spent in tumultuous New Delhi, where her diplomat father was posted when an Indian-Pakistani war broke out over Bangladesh. Genetically, she traces her anxiety to a grandmother whose famous biting wit was likely, she surmises, a manifestation of anxiety and depression. Pearson quotes a range of sources, including the 2002 World Mental Health Survey and angst-ridden Kierkegaard, Keats and Whitman. Pearson's anxieties constantly shift according to the stresses in her life, and an adverse reaction to antidepressants once caused her to make sexual advances to her daughter's friend's mother. Citizens of affluent U.S. and Canada are more prone to dread and panic than Mexicans, says Pearson, who herself grew up in a privileged Canadian family with a grandfather who was prime minister and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Although often self-indulgent and overwritten, Pearson's quirky memoir should strike a chord with some of the 40 million American adults suffering from clinical anxiety. (Mar. 4)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist and USA Today contributor Pearson (Area Woman Blows Gasket, 2005, etc.) insightfully probes one of the oldest-and least-understood-psychological conditions. In this slim but well-constructed book, the author weaves her own experiences-she was officially diagnosed with "generalized anxiety disorder" at age 23, following a nervous breakdown caused by her breakup with a man she "loved as fiercely as Heloise loved Abelard"-with a lively history of anxiety and its many sufferers. She begins by exploring the murky relation among fear, anxiety and depression: "Our fears are private, arbitrary, idiosyncratic, and very often masked. Anxiety rages undetected in the mind, both secretive and wild." And she employs a pleasing blend of personal anecdote and historical context. Despite her often playful tone and poetic, evocative language, Pearson provides countless intriguing historical examples, backed by an extensive notes section, including discussions of ancient philosophy, medicine and theology; Darwin's treatment of his hypochondria (he was sprayed with a hose); American composer Allen Shawn's agoraphobia; and the Middle Ages practice of summoning animals to court to stand trial, simply in the interest of holding something accountable when things went awry. She also examines contemporary manifestations of anxiety: widespread depression and fear of being fired from one's job; pressure to succeed, illustrated by the case of Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore who in 2006 was shown to have plagiarized most of her much-hyped debut novel from other authors; and Flu Wiki, a website devoted to those obsessed with an epidemic outbreak of influenza. Most readers won't be surprised to learnthat, according to a World Mental Health Survey, the "United States has the highest level of anxiety in the world, with a lifetime prevalence rate of 28.8 percent." (Compare that with Mexico, in which, according to the author, 93.4 percent of people have never experienced an instance of anxiety or depression.) The author concludes with a chronicle of her negative experiences with prescription drugs like Effexor and Lexapro, and the charge-a common one these days-that psychiatrists are overprescribing in lieu of less-invasive treatments like behavioral therapy. A wholly satisfying mix of memoir, cultural history and investigative journalism. Agent: Sarah Lazin/Sarah Lazin Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596919495
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/9/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 748,579
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.75 (d)
  • File size: 323 KB

Meet the Author

Patricia Pearson is a frequent contributor to USA Today and the author of the novel Playing House. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Observer, the Guardian, and Redbook, among other publications, and she won the Arthur Ellis Award in 1997 for best nonfiction crime book, When She Was Bad. She recently moved from Toronto to the boreal forest outside Montreal with her husband and two children.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Lots of similarities

    Its easy to keep reading as patricia demonstrates characteristics that are stikingly similar to yourself or someone you know. At times outlandish, her account of anxiety strung circumstances according to the sufferer are comical and fun to read, making you laugh at loud at the idea of them. Those who suffer will find a comforting tone to pearsons descriptions, a " you aren't as crazy as you think you are" reassurance. Short, fun and unbiased view of how tough it can be to have thoughts and emotions.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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