chapter  4
26 Pages

Anxiety in relation to risk

Where people are made vulnerable to the ‘problem of anxiety’ they are liable to encounter difficult questions concerning how they should make sense of this experience and how they might act so as to alleviate their symptoms of distress. So long as we remain ‘in anxiety’, then I understand this as a sign that we have yet to acquire the knowledge which is sufficient to allow us to define the full dimensions of the causes of our emotional distress, and thereby we are left struggling to identify a clear course of action which might lead us to feel more secure and ‘at home’ in the world. Indeed, following Freud (1979: 324-9) I have presented the trauma of anxiety as functioning for the purpose of ‘seeing’ our way through a situation of foreboding obscurity so that, by illuminating the ‘reality’ of an anticipated danger, we might take the necessary steps to remove ourselves from harm’s way. In the context of the analytical distinction between fear and anxiety (see Chapter 1), where fears are understood to always ‘refer to something definite’ (Kierkegaard 1980: 42) and anxiety is held to have ‘a quality of indefiniteness and a lack of object’ (Freud 1979: 325), one might conceive this experience of trauma to have the aim of transforming the agitated uncertainty of anxiety into the sure knowledge of fear.