In fact often we don’t really believe that it is actually going to happen at all. We still however fear that it is. The two disparate events namely that we feel something is going to happen (an emotional reaction) but on the other hand do not actually believe it sets up an internal conflict. This exacerbates our anxiety to such a pitch that sometimes we begin to question our sanity. We certainly feel insane. Usually however we are too fearful of discovering an unpleasant reality so we do not try and to find out the truth. We keep silent and hope for the best. We live on in silent desperation. And most of those fears we find are not evident in reality. This unfortunately rarely placates us.
Projection of blame onto others
Most of us brought up in relatively normal circumstances have the basic ability to live with this chronic unhappiness without catastrophic outcome.
Where there has been negative genetic overload or where environmental forces have been overwhelming such as violent and traumatic upbringing by pathological parents unfortunately there is no such basic resilience. In these situations the common reaction is to severely limit self- awareness in relation to anxiety.
The person’s actions are therefore based entirely on defensive reaction to life rather than a realistic appraisal of the situation as it is. Commonly a projection of blame culture develops and a victim stance adopted by the anxiety sufferer. Absence of insight however means that the sufferer projects blame onto others generally and groups in particular (eg migrants). The sufferer begins to feel increasingly misunderstood alienated and alone. This can lead to serious pathological internalised reactions such as depression and even suicide or externalised activities such as aggression. In extreme cases this can lead to violence or other crimes. The sufferer often feels vindicated and that these reactions are justified given a society which in their view has not sufficiently cared about them. These sufferers are almost never aware of the anxiety that has driven their actions and live in a perpetual uncomfortable ignorance.
In contemporary times many of us believe we are time poor. Increasingly we feel we are somehow being driven to rush everywhere. Are we just endlessly rushing to arrive before everyone else? We seem to be driven. What is it that is driving us though? Unfortunately the virus of driven-ness seems to have affected all age groups. Life seems to be a perpetual competition where we are being driven by our need to win. Our anxieties about this are driven by many aspects of modern living as our friends on social media clearly are having a much better time than we are. In this information age we have lots of information about what we should acquire to have a more satisfied life. Our anxiety drives us and then the constant changes in society make it necessary for us to accelerate our own pace of change simply to keep up. Change itself makes us anxious but in a contemporary society change seems inevitable and even desirable.
The drive towards betterment that accompanies anxiety is not a primary drive at all. It is a secondary drive resulting from the obsessional systems of our brains closely allied with anxiety. Obsession lives in a world all its own. If one is sufficiently anxious for a period of time obsession is the internal defence that the brain applies. It has an arbitrary rhythm of its own and a logic of its own. Nothing makes meaningful sense Obsessional thoughts act through compulsive actions. Our driven-ness is simple compulsion. The interesting thing about compulsion is it is significantly out of our control. We may try to rationalise it but it does not come from rationality or judgement. It comes from irrationality and emotionality.
Obsession lives in unreality
Compulsive people cannot function unless there is absolute certainty and obsessive control. Without this they quickly lose direction and descend into a paralysis of indecision and hopelessness. the reality of the situation is quickly lost. They will in many cases do nothing. In others they will indulge in meaningless often self-damaging behaviour patterns such as wasting time aimlessly, drinking gambling or indulging in behaviours which are simply distractions for what they know they should be doing.
'We spend our time making basic assumptions about life that have no basis in factual realty'.
Conflict between the conscious and the unconscious
The thinking feeling and obsessional systems of the brain work in two main ways. They work consciously when one is aware of one’s thoughts feelings and obsessions or unconsciously when one is not aware of them. We all have a dynamic and influential unconsciousness relating our thoughts feelings and obsessions. Often the conflicts that create anxiety come from the unconscious. An example may be that you consciously desire attention but when you get that same attention that you have been seeking you become flustered and upset because you unconsciously have been conditioned by your parents to believe that people who draw attention to themselves are manipulative or amoral. The unconscious is so omnipresent in our lives that many of our actions are driven by them without our awareness. This means that the exact reasons for our behaviour are not entirely clear to us. When unconscious behaviours are in conflict with conscious desires the conflict this produces results in anxiety and confusion. We do not know whether we are actually reacting to a real external situation or to an unconscious internal one. So we cannot judge a situation with any degree of accuracy. The main work of psychotherapy lies in making people aware of these conflicts and making them conscious of what unconscious desires drive their behaviour giving access to a way of consciously resolving those conflicts in a more logical manner given that the unconscious is not necessarily rational and thereby resolving the conflict and relieving the generated anxiety.
An inability to structure life
The essence of the anxious mind is an inability to define one’s life and an inability to classify or structure it. The reason why this is important is that our primary ability to survive depends on simple classifications. Is a situation dangerous or is it not? Should a situation be feared or should it not? These decisions sound deceptively simple and easy but they are not.