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This website's model for treatment of anxiety

The following model is related to the following points (outlined in the previous page - Association: Some problems are really disguises of deeper problems)

For the purposes of the model I am proposing, I will present the problem as two-fold.

  1. Psychoanalytic theory proposes that there are underlying root problems that tend to cause the gamut of manifestations the are associated with anxiety. 
  2. This second distinction is crucial to my understanding of treatment for anxiety.  The gamut of manifestations of anxiety resulting from the underlying problem, is constituted by highly maladaptive behaviours that contribute to negative lifestyle patterns that force the individual into unproductive situations that can place her under considerable additional stress. 

Problem 1) is initially too great for direct onslaught

Let us return the psychoanalytic model proposing that ‘mental energy’ is consumed as the individual attempts to suppress 'needs'.  The suppression of impulse associated with 1) above results in the manifestations found in 2) above.  However, as I see it, the manifestations found in point 2) above result in considerable trauma, which uses up remaining ‘mental energy’ so that the individual is left with little reserve mental energy. 

Since the root conflicts, outlined in point 1) above, are the underlying cause of the problem, in order for anxiety to be relieved, it is reasonable to propose that at some point the individual will have to overturn the root suppressions that have occurred.  Since the fears may well have originated at a very young age, and may now be an integral part of the individual's personality, addressing these underlying fears is likely to be extremely frightening.  In order to begin to address these core fears and suppressions, I suggest that the individual will require considerable ‘mental energy’ reserves.  I propose that since 2) above has caused so many additional life traumas resulting in the draining of most remaining 'mental energy', considerable work will need to be done in relation to overturning maladaptive behaviours at 2) in order to free up enough mental necessary for the individual to eventually begin to overturn core root suppressions and face fears found in 1) above. 

If 1) is causing 2), then surely 1) will need to be addressed in order that relief is experienced at 2)?

The acute thinker may spot an apparent theoretical glitch in the model I have proposed.  If the problems at point 2) above are caused by suppressions found at 1), then surely one needs to address problems at 1) in order for problems at 2) to be resolved?  Well, I think that many of the problems found at 2) are somewhat irrational, and these problems often develop when we are children and when we have little insight into the nature of the conflicts that are occurring.  I think that much can be done at 2) if we begin to understand the nature of our behaviours better, and particularly, if we begin to reflect on the maladaptive nature of the behaviours we are applying at 2).  Many of these behaviours produce a net loss in terms of life satisfaction, and if we begin to experience and reflect on the increase in life satisfaction that occurs after we alter behaviours found at 2) then I think that recognition of the emotional rewards provided by making initially difficult changes can provide strength for further changes.

More importantly, I believe that as we begin to experience increased emotional rewards from making changes at 2), that this will eventually give us a thirst for making difficult changes: we begin to realise that the benefits of change outweigh the small benefits of remaining attached to ‘safe’ old behaviour patterns.  As emotional strength increases, and we begin to live freer and more fulfilled lives, and as we gain ‘small victories’ from overturning more and more of our troublesome behaviours that have plagued us all our lives, so eventually do our underlying fears begin to lose their grip.  Not only does the emotional reward derived from achieving these ‘small victories’ eventually provide cumulative strength for addressing more difficult underlying issues, but we finally realise and hopefully become deeply convinced that we will only be truly fulfilled when we begin to let go of our maladaptive root fears. 

The majority of this website, then, will address manifestations of anxiety, as found at 2) above.  I believe that it is often far too frightening for anxious individuals to face the underlying fears found at 1).  Only after possibly years of lifestyle changes with resulting increase of ‘emotional literacy’ has occurred, will the individual find strength to address underlying root problems. 

In terms of better understanding root problems, I suggest that ‘Attachment Theory’ (which has been built on key psychoanalytic ideas) may provide a fruitful framework.  Perhaps attachment issues do not always form the root of the problem.  At present, I consider that they usually form a significant part of the problem underlying anxiety.  To begin to understand attachment theory and how this pertains to adult romantic relationships, see the ‘Romantic Relationships’ section of this website.