Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety

Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

by Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel X
My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2015, 416 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author's struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition.
 
As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood.

Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists.

Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as on the afflicted generations of his own family. His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion's myriad manifestations and the anguish anxiety produces but also the countless psychotherapies, medications, and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll - its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze - while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it.

My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.

Excerpt
My Age of Anxiety

Some eighty years ago, Freud proposed that anxiety was "a riddle whose solution would be bound to throw a flood of light on our whole mental existence." Unlocking the mysteries of anxiety, he believed, would go far in helping us to unravel the mysteries of the mind: consciousness, the self, identity, intellect, imagination, creativity — not to mention pain, suffering, hope, and regret. To grapple with and understand anxiety is, in some sense, to grapple with and understand the human condition.

The differences in how various cultures and eras have perceived and understood anxiety can tell us a lot about those cultures and eras. Why did the ancient Greeks of the Hippocratic school see anxiety mainly as a medical condition, while Enlightenment philosophers saw it as an intellectual problem? Why did the early existentialists see anxiety as a spiritual condition, while Gilded Age doctors saw it as a specifically Anglo-Saxon stress response &mdash...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

[Stossel's] writing is personal and extraordinarily brave. He exposes his struggle to function in daily life, recounts difficult therapy sessions, admits to gut-wrenching anxiety that caused him to soil himself, remembers walking out in the middle of his own speeches, and quietly mentions moments of stress and abuse he suffered as a child. Stossel’s ability to unabashedly share his experiences creates a strong sense of humanity in his book, and his first-person narrative is very effective in de-stigmatizing neurotic fear...continued

Full Review (751 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

Media Reviews

O Magazine
Scott Stossel’s erudite, heartfelt, and occasionally darkly funny meld of memoir, cultural history, and science, feels excruciatingly relevant.

The Boston Globe
The book is astonishingly thorough and lucidly written. It’s a fascinating look at that linchpin of the human condition—the primitive fight-or-flight response—and how it resides in our psyches in a time of IEDs and SSRIs. Rare will be the reader who doesn’t spot him or herself somewhere in Stossel’s sweeping analysis, as he digs into parenting styles, performance stress, talk therapy, medication, depression, fear of flying, blushing, you name it.

The New York Times
Ambitious and bravely intimate…A thrilling intellectual chase.

The Seattle Times
[Stossel], brings his dogged fact-digging skills to this work, which is peppered with humor and humility, remarkably balanced—and generous to the point of philanthropy with his deeply personal, hard-won knowledge. Plus, the man is a lovely writer.

Elle Magazine
A carefully reported, wryly funny, and admirably honest historical and personal investigation.

The Wall Street Journal
In dissecting his own acute case, along with the disorder that afflicts him, he offers a degree of understanding to the rest of us—along with a modicum of comfort and even hope to those who must trudge through life chronically anxious despite their seeming good fortune.

Booklist
Starred Review. His deft handling of a delicate topic and frustrating illness highlights the existential dread, embarrassment, and desperation associated with severe anxiety yet allows room for resiliency, hope, transcendence. Absolutely fearless writing.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Powerful, eye-opening and funny. Pitch-perfect in his storytelling, Stossel reminds us that, in many important ways, to be anxious is to be human.

Publishers Weekly
Stossel's journey through his own life is unsparing, darkly funny (a nervous stomach tends to flare up at the worst times, like in front of JFK Jr.), but above all, hopeful.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Unusual Phobias

Snow covered trees in GermanyIn My Age of Anxiety, Scott Stossel - journalist and editor of The Atlantic magazine - describes, in intimate detail, how stressful living with a phobia can be. According to the American Psychological Association, a phobia is a "persistent and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that is excessive and unreasonable, given the reality of the threat," and in Stossel's case, he suffers from at least ten, including emetophobia (fear of vomiting – there's an entire chapter on this), agoraphobia (fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places), and even turophobia (fear of cheese). After a little research, I was interested to find out that turophobia is just one of many uncommon and surprising phobias that exist in ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked My Age of Anxiety, try these:

  • A Mind Unraveled jacket

    A Mind Unraveled

    by Kurt Eichenwald

    Published 2019

    About this book

    The compelling story of an acclaimed journalist and New York Times bestselling author's ongoing struggle with epilepsy—his torturous decision to keep his condition a secret to avoid discrimination, and his ensuing decades-long battle to not only survive, but to thrive.

  • Hunger jacket

    Hunger

    by Roxane Gay

    Published 2018

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the New York Times best-selling author of Bad Feminist, a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.

We have 11 read-alikes for My Age of Anxiety, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Cecilia
    by K-Ming Chang
    In the first few pages of K-Ming Chang's bizarre yet engrossing novella Cecilia, Seven, the ...
  • Book Jacket: Women and Children First
    Women and Children First
    by Alina Grabowski
    After Lucy Anderson falls to her death at a high school party, no one in Nashquitten, her gloomy, ...
  • Book Jacket: Henry Henry
    Henry Henry
    by Allen Bratton
    Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Win This Book
Win The Bluestockings

The Bluestockings by Susannah Gibson

An illuminating group portrait of the eighteenth-century women who dared to imagine an active life for themselves in both mind and spirit.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.