Anxiety as a feeling rather than as actual survival mechanism.
I have recently received questioning about the nature of anxiety and why patients with acute generalised anxiety continuously have difficulty to achieve recession of symptoms. In recent research conducted by Dr. Sokal, member of the board of directors at the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and long time director at the Beck Institute in Pennsylvania, one of the main issues is that practitioners tend to try and minimize symptoms through focus on the actual anxiety, rather than on the fear of anxiety. Anxiety as a basic human feeling is a defense mechanism that ultimately permits survival of the species, as once it is turned on, our sympathetic system is activated and we are ready for quick immediate responses. It is said that without anxiety we would simply not survive. Of course it is obvious that in patients with anxiety disorder the system is activated based on dangers that mostly are not real but felt as if they were. This poses the need to first and foremost deal with the FEAR of anxiety, rather than the anxiety itself. Why am I afraid to feel anxious ? Does this fear mean that I am actually in danger ? Does fearing anxiety make me "anxious to feel anxious ?" Usually the answer is yes. Focusing firstly on the fear permits the patient to understand that anxiety as a feeling does not mean that one is actually in danger. To be able to sit with the feeling and understand that although it uncomfortable, in reality that's all it is, a feeling. Once the patient learns to feel uncomfortable without necessarily having to try and control said feeling, the paradox kicks in. Acceptance precedes change.