Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression

ISBN : 9780199796441

Jeffrey P. Kahn
312 ページ
162 x 238 mm

Why do so many people suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous angst? Some twenty percent of us are afflicted with common Anxiety and Depressive disorders. That's not just nervous or scared or sad - that is painful dysfunction without obvious benefit. This angst comes from an evolutionary inheritance that biologically shaped us into social communities. There are just five specific diagnostic subtypes that account for most of this modern-day angst: Panic Anxiety, Social Anxiety, OCD, Atypical Depression and Melancholic Depression. Each of the five comes from primeval social instincts that told our ancestors how to improve survival of their community DNA. These instincts are also very much alive and unfettered in other species today. Their potential link to our human distress was anticipated by both Darwin and Freud. We humans have greater instinctive consciousness than other creatures. Rational thoughts let us defy biological social instructions. One result of this uniquely human skill is that over-ridden social instincts complain to us in the painful language of emotional disorders. A few of us even tackle this pain head-on, in ways that can advance our intellectual creativity, social performance, and productivity. Our human intellectual abilities owe as much to our unique social software as to our greater brain processing power. Civilization is built upon our ability to maintain social harmony with ethics and government, and to find solace in technology, religion and beer. This novel theoretical synthesis offers a new framework for understanding what our knowledge of psychiatric neuroscience, clinical research, diagnosis and treatment. The central theory is explained in everyday language. It is supported by clinical observation, straightforward accounts of complex science, animal research, and quotes from both ancient writings and modern humor and lyrics. This fascinating new synthesis is written for the general public, mental health professionals and academic researchers alike.


* Table of Contents
* One: Anxiety and Depression are the Modern Echoes of Evolved Social Instincts
* Part I: Six Social Instincts: Five Usual Suspects and One Missing Think
* Two: Don't Stray Far From Family, Home or Safety: Panic Anxiety
* Three: Follow the Leader of the Pack: Social Anxiety
* Four: A Sure and Tidy Nest (Clean, Arrange, Save and Behave): Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
* Five: Go Along to Get Along: Atypical Depression
* Six: Feeling So Useless You Could Die: Melancholic Depression
* Seven: Consciousness Lost and Instinct Run Amok: Schizophrenia and Psychosis
* Part II: Civilization: The Rise of Reason and the Ascent of Angst
* Eight: Happy in the Herd: Instinctive Herds and Primeval Ignorance
* Nine: Climbing To Civilization: The Rise of Reason and the Ascent of Angst
* Ten: Illness and Instinct: Consciousness Has Consequences
* Eleven: Free to Choose: How to Balance Your Reason and Instinct
* Appendix of Diagnostic Criteria
* Annotated Bibliography
* Cited References [Arranged by Chapters]
* Index


Jeffrey P. Kahn, M.D.'s evolutionary theory of Anxiety and Depression draws on his academic work on anxiety disorders, workplace mental health, and precision diagnosis, and most especially upon observations from clinical practice. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University Medical School, he is now Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical College, with offices in Manhattan and Westchester County.