Monday, August 20, 2012

The Anxious Idiot

Following in the vein of last Friday's self-helpy post I thought I would note Daniel Smith's quirky Op-Ed piece in the NYTimes about his chronic anxiety, his frequent states of agitation, self-hatred and incipient despair. I cook down and edit his remedy:
I should define "idiot" for our purposes… a person who tends to forget all the important lessons, essentially a fool, one who willfully ignores all that he has learned about how to come to his own aid. A person who is so fixated on the fact that he is in a hole that he fails to climb out of the hole. An idiot, in short, is someone who is self-defeatingly lazy…the anxious are rarely slothful in any typical sense. It's more that they tend to be undisciplined, or somehow otherwise unwilling to see our anxiety for what it is - a habit of mind.
The promising thing about a habit is that it is not the same thing as a fate… an anxious person has to build new patterns of thought, so that his mind doesn't fall into the old set of grooves. He has to dig new tracks and keep digging…Two reliable methods to keep anxiety at bay can be Zen meditation and cognitive-behavior therapy. Both teach that one's thoughts are not to be taken as the gospel truth; both foster mindfulness and mental discipline (as can yoga, exercise, therapeutic breathing, or prayer). It matters less what a person chooses than that he chooses, keeps choosing, and remains dogged. Anything else is idiocy.


  1. Anonymous7:37 AM

    CBT is pseudo go with Interpersonal constructive therapy at least it follows a intrinsic psychology model. Unlike CBT with just deals with a cognitive impairment with a cognitive impaired way of thinking.

  2. I guess I'll just stick zen meditation when I want to de-stress. Emptying the mind for a certain period of time has that calming effect to it.