2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Anxiety: Disorder or Not?

Jonathan Rigby, 2010, Stage 3

Is anxiety a disorder to be eradicated, or a mood beneficial to human life? The aim of this essay is to establish whether or not there is a correlation between Heidegger’s concept of anxiety in relation to the Nothing, and Gadamer’s concept of anxiety as a legitimate, and often misunderstood, mode of knowledge.

Heidegger claimed that anxiety was the gateway to the Nothing and therefore could be used as a path to the answer to the question of being.

Gadamer claimed that mental illness, including anxiety, whilst seemingly treated to the best of a particular period’s abilities, is cast aside as being irrational. In fact, Gadamer claims that the way in which the mentally ill think is to be taken seriously and one must therefore enter into it.

The territory for this essay will be mental illness in our own modern society, as shown by the York Retreat below. I will attempt to show which mental illnesses to do with anxiety are prevalent in our society compared to societies in the past. I will also attempt to show if there are, in general, more cases of anxiety based mental illness in modern society than ever before, for example in the U.S.A. 13.3% of the adult population suffer from one or several forms of anxiety disorders (

For Heidegger, anxiety is a crucial “original” mood which cannot be entered willingly. He called such experiences “erfahrung”, meaning an experience which is undergone, not chosen. Such experiences are extremely powerful and although not directly life changing, do have an effect on one’s attitude to one’s life.

Leave a Reply