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When this important work was originally published in 1950--the first book in this country on anxiety--it was hailed as a work ahead of its time.
This book is the result of several years of exploration, research, and thought on one of the most urgent problems of our day. Clinical experience has proved to psychologists and psychiatrists generally that the central problem in psychotherapy is the nature of anxiety. To the extent that we have been able to solve that problem, we have made a beginning in understanding the causes of integration and disintegration of personality.
But if anxiety were merely a phenomenon of maladjustment, it might well be consigned to the consulting room and the clinic and this book to the professional library. The evidence is overwhelming, however, that men and women of today live in an “age of anxiety.” If one penetrates below the surface of political, economic, business, professional, or domestic crises to discover their psychological causes, or if one seeks to understand modern art or poetry or philosophy or religion, one runs athwart the problem of anxiety at almost every turn. There is reason to believe that the ordinary stresses and strains of life in the changing world of today are such that few if any escape the need to confront anxiety and to deal with it in some manner.
This study seeks to bring together in one volume the theories of anxiety offered by modern explorers in different areas of our culture, to discover the common elements in these theories, and to formulate these concepts so that we shall have some common ground for further inquiry. If the synthesis of anxiety theory presented here serves the purpose of producing some coherence and order in this field, a good part of the writer’s goal will have been achieved.