Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber: Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Date: July 2004
Duration: 6 hours 27 minutes
Are you bombarded by a constant media feed of global terrorism, war, and rising unemployment rates—and by a mind-numbing array of ads that urge you to “ask your doctor” about the newest anti-anxiety medications? If it sometimes feels as if this country is having a collective anxiety attack, then you won’t be surprised to learn that more than 19 million Americans suffer from some form of acute anxiety.
Poe’s Heart and the Mountain Climber tackles this situation head-on, with a fresh perspective and a straightforward approach to exploring and understanding our anxiety before it paralyzes us.
After interviewing many experts on anxiety, and reflecting on his own many years treating anxious patients (as well as experiencing more than a few anxious moments himself), Dr. Richard Restak has organized this book around one primary principal: the best way to manage anxiety in these anxious times is to learn about it and put that learning to practical use. His message is vital and empowering: anxiety is not a mental illness that must require medication, but often a normal, biological response to stress.
Anxiety is part of our genetic makeup. We wouldn’t be alive today if our ancestors had lacked the ability to anticipate dangers and threats. Anxiety is as natural a part of our existence as breathing, eating, or sleeping, and it is closely linked to our powers of reasoning. Unlike any other species, only we are able to envision future possibilities. As a result, we aren’t tethered to the here and now, but can imaginatively anticipate the good things that might happen to us. But we can also envision the bad things and, as a result, experience anxiety. We can’t have one without the other. Anxiety, therefore, isn’t something to be eliminated but, rather, something to be understood. Anxiety is only undesirable when it becomes extreme.
This groundbreaking book teaches us to view anxiety not as a burden, but as a stimulus for greater accomplishment and enhanced self-knowledge. We will function at our best when we stop working to deny our anxiety or trying to escape it and instead learn to accept its presence in our lives and transform it into the positive, creative energy from which it stems.