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  • Giovanni Gentile

What is anxiety?

Updated: Apr 7

We all know what anxiety is. We know how to recognize its effects and when we feel tense. But...what causes anxiety?


Perhaps not everyone knows that without anxiety we would all be in deep trouble. In fact, our species would probably be extinct....


But then, how did such a useful function become a fearsome and difficult problem to manage?


This type of response dates back to our ancestors, and is observable in many animals because it is enacted to escape predators or other dangers in the surrounding environment.



The history of planet Earth

The history of humans (Sapiens, 200,000 years ago) is only about the last 60 seconds of the universe calendar !!!
(Carl Sagan 1977, The dragons of Eden)

The gradual development of the brain allowed our ancestors to survive in very hostile environments, adapting to a context that changed very quickly...


Modern society, on the other hand, has evolved in such a "short time" that the brain has had no way to adapt to the complex changes of the modern world!


Society has evolved in such a "short time" that the brain has had no way to adapt to the complex changes of the modern world.

So, sometimes, this ancient part of our brain can't discriminate well between a predator and... a class assignment or public speaking!


A boundless reaction


When events in the environment become persistent over time , our body continually reacts by preparing for action.


All of this would be great if we were to attack or flee from danger, but failing that, we feel...anxious!





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