Anxious Summary By Joseph Ledoux

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Anxious (2015) is a deep dive into the world of anxiety disorders.

Through in-depth research, it examines how we diagnose these conditions and explores how our evolutionary instincts can lead us astray by making us see threats when there are none.

It's an eye-opening look at some of the groundbreaking treatments that have transformative effects - from rewiring our memories to the power of meditation.

It's the perfect book for those who are looking to better understand anxiety, as well as those who just want to learn more about the latest treatments available on this topic.

Whether you're someone who has been struggling with anxiety or just curious to learn more, Anxious (2015) is sure to provide invaluable insight and direction.


Book Name: Anxious (Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety)

Author(s): Joseph Ledoux

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

Joseph LeDoux is an incredibly well-respected and knowledgeable professor of Science at New York University.

He has written several books, such as Synaptic Self and The Emotional Brain, that have peaked interest and opened the eyes of many who study the impact emotions have on our health.

In addition to his research, Professor LeDoux also directs the Emotional Brain Institute where he continues to focus on furthering research in this subject field.

With his latest book Anxious, readers are allowed a glimpse into what could be an answer for understanding our own emotions more deeply.

Understand Anxiety Disorders: How Fear and Threat Protect Us, Why It Was Once Seen as Positive, and Erasing Memories As a Possible Cure


Anxiety is a common emotion that many of us experience in some way or another.

But when it becomes too intense and starts to interfere with everyday life, it’s called an anxiety disorder.

So, how do we know if someone has this disorder? And what can be done about it?

These questions will be answered when you read Anxious Book Summary.

This book reveals the source of this feared emotion and offers strategies for controlling it.

It draws on psychoanalytic ideas, cognitive behavioral therapy, and neuroscience to recommend treatments that can regulate your level of anxiety so that it doesn’t take over your life.

From reading the book, you’ll learn why our brains have evolved to protect us from threats; why people used to view anxiety as a positive emotion; how memories can be purged in order to help cure anxiety; and how cognitive behavioral therapies can be used to treat this disorder.

So don’t be scared – gain insight into what causes your fear and learn how to regulate it by getting Anxious Book Summary today!

From Ancient Greek Woes to Modern-Day Preoccupations: How Anxiety became an Essential Part of Human Life

The concept of anxiety has been around for centuries and its origins come from the ancient Greek word angh, which means “burdened” or “troubled.” It appears throughout the New Testament as anxious sinners awaiting God’s judgment.

Søren Kierkegaard even asserted in his 1844 book The Concept of Anxiety that anxiety is a consequence of our capacity for free choice, making it essential part of being human.

This view was also echoed by existentialist philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre throughout the twentieth century before Sigmund Freud presented a very different perspective of understanding anxiety.

Freud argued that anxiety is central to a host of psychopathological disorders and argued that repressing trauma and unpleasant memories causes us to become neurotically anxious.

This extreme view inspired W.


Auden’s 1947 book The Age of Anxiety, popularizing a phrase that has found its way into everyday conversation since then.

Although anxiety disorders are something we talk about frequently today, there is still much confusion surrounding what it actually means to be anxious – making it more important than ever for us recognize that anxiety was once seen as an essential part of being human.

How Do Psychologists Decide if Someone Has an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorder

If you have ever had the suspicion that you may have an anxiety disorder, you should know that the criteria for diagnosing anxiety disorders are constantly evolving.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) was first released in the mid-20th century, and it divided mental disorders into psychosis and neurosis.

Since then, the DSM has continually updated, with various iterations of the manual including subdivisions of neurosis into generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorders.

The next edition in 1994 even included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and specific phobias.

This continual evolution of diagnoses ensures people can access mental health services appropriately while receiving proper insurance coverage, employer help, and educational support.

To make a diagnosis, a psychologist will assess their patient’s symptoms according to DSM criteria.

For those who qualify as having an anxiety disorder based on these criteria, there are three factors that can come into play: genetics (anxiety can be passed down from parents), psychological disposition (handling uncertainty), and learning experiences (environment growing up).

Knowing all this is crucial for understanding your own possible experience with anxiety or helping someone else who might be struggling with it.

How Our Bodies Prepare Us to Survive: Understanding Our Inherent Survival Instincts

Our body is equipped with sophisticated evolutionary survival mechanisms to help us protect ourselves from danger.

In the early twentieth century, physiologist Walter Cannon developed his famous “fight or flight” theory, which outlined how animals respond to a perceived threat: freeze and play dead, run away, or fight back.

And guess what – humans have that same response!

Just think of how you react when you see a vicious barking dog or are in a hostile workplace situation.

When we feel threatened our sympathetic nervous system kicks into action, delivering more energy to our muscles and directing blood away from our gut, skin and limbs while the adrenal medulla releases adrenaline into our bodies.

It’s clear that we all have well-developed survival instincts to counter threats.

We learn through experience when something is dangerous – like a rabbit avoiding a bobcat at the watering hole – but we also can take cues from observation (seeing someone else being mugged) as well as verbal instruction (warnings about fires and untrustworthy strangers).

These survival mechanisms are so important for keeping us safe, however sometimes they can be overactive – perceiving threats even where there aren’t any.

Anxiety Hypervigilance Triggers Physiological Reactions and Avoidant Behavior, Leading to a Life of Increased Restrictions

Anxiety Hypervigilance

Having an anxiety disorder can be a nightmare; it puts you on hyper vigilance for potential threats.

That means, in any situation or setting, you are suspicious and expecting danger.

For example, if you are scared of spiders, then every corner could potentially host a spider making it almost impossible to walk around with ease.

In serious cases, people experience intense fear and distress in public places – even from the smallest of things that triggers the fight-flight response.

The sympathetic nervous system is key here.

This part of our body goes into full alert mode when anxious, releasing stress hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol which heightens awareness and prepares us for action to potential threats – whether real or perceived.

Oftentimes, people get into the habit of overestimating risks of potential situations while underestimating their own abilities to deal with them – this only makes matters worse by driving them further away from social interactions and activities outside their comfort zones.

Living with anxiety disorders can mean leading lives that become increasingly limited as one avoids potential triggers at all costs.

Yet while avoidance brings temporary relief, it fails to fully address the underlying issues of fear and insecurity that come with anxiety disorders.

Ultimately, facing these root concerns is the only way forward for those seeking a life free from worry and overthinking.

The Difference Between Unconscious Survival Responses and Conscious Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are complex emotions that humans experience, not just a simple survival response.

Unlike many animals, our conscious minds interpret our bodily responses and memories.

Our semantic memory allows us to recognize the sources of these feelings and label them as fear or anxiety.

We also involve our episodic memory to relate the object we observe to past events which intensifies our fear.

This understanding goes beyond simply recognizing a threat; it requires us to form an emotional understanding about the situation at hand.

When humans identify a threat, we use all of these various cognitive mechanisms to imagine what might happen in the future if this were to take place and it is this aspect which ultimately creates a feeling of fear or anxiety within us.

Therefore, while animals may display defensive or survival responses when they experience danger, humans possess a unique trait of being able to connect meaning with those reactions and consciously process and think about what they are feeling.

This important distinction shows why it is crucial for researchers studying anxiety to consider human emotions rather than solely relying on experiments with animals for their knowledge.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Can Help Us Overcome Anxiety by Facing Fearful Triggers Head-On


Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat anxiety-related conditions.

It focuses on how our behavior and beliefs can impact our emotions and reactions, and on understanding why we feel the way we do.

This type of therapy has been widely studied and is considered by many mental health experts as a key tool in managing anxiety.

Cognitive therapies focus on “untying” unhealthy core beliefs that can lead to develop survival or avoidant behaviors.

On the other hand, behavioral therapy helps address damaging behavior patterns themselves.

Both methods rely heavily on exposure therapy.

Through this approach, patients get gradually exposed to that which they fear, providing them with the opportunity of proving to themselves that these events don’t have to be fearful after all.

Exposure gives them tangible, real-world evidence that their worries are often disproportionate with reality.

This process works much like falling off a horse: get back up quickly, learn from it, replace bad memories or experiences with positive ones, and try again.

All this taken together allows patients to gain perspective and start seeing those previously unhelpful thoughts for what they truly are: illogical cognitive distortions that are affecting their life in a negative way.

Thankfully, Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help untangle those knots with significant progress when applied correctly and consistently over time.

Exposure therapy has been demonstrated to be remarkably effective, with a 70 percent rate of success

Exposure therapy is an incredibly effective way to treat anxiety, but we can’t overlook the fact that it also has some limitations.

For one, what you learn in a therapist’s office may not carry over to real life as most associations are context-specific.

Additionally, exposure therapy’s effects can be reversed due to new traumatic events or even after a lapse of time (known as spontaneous recovery).

Another issue with extinction is that only conscious memories can be extinguished – so any hidden ones in our unconscious won’t be targeted by this treatment.

To try and make exposure therapy more lasting, therapists may encourage clients to practice in different contexts, take a nap after sessions and even use short-term drug treatments such as cortisol to reduce anxious feelings prior to therapy.

The bottom line is that while exposure therapy remains remarkable successful at treating anxiety, it does come with some distinct disadvantages which should not be overlooked.

Understanding the Dynamic Nature of Memory and How It Can Help in Treating Trauma

Dynamic Nature

In the age-old debate over whether or not our memories can truly be erased, recent research demonstrates that they can in fact be retrieved and updated with new information.

This was first discovered in an experiment with rats – by injecting a substance that blocks a part of the brain called the lateral amygdala, researchers were actually able to erase traumatic memory associations!

But humans are a different story – although studies have shown that each time a memory is recalled it can be altered or shaped with new information, strong traumatic memories remain remarkably resilient even when the brain’s protein synthesis is blocked.

However, this finding has been seen as quite promising for psychologists looking for ways to help people who suffer from trauma and mental health problems.

Psychoanalysis involves “recovering” repressed memories and cognitive therapy involves discussing and recontextualizing memories to reframe them differently.

All these examples demonstrate how existing psychological methods already alter our memories in some way – so why not explore further interventions for helping those struggling?

Although it’s true that we need to possess caution when attempting any manipulation involving our memories, modern neuroscience advancements may offer a complementary approach to more traditional therapies which could help provide tangible relief.

How Active Coping Strategies Can Help Us Manage Anxiety

Anxious feelings can be hard to manage, but there are ways to regulate your anxiety.

Active coping strategies have been proven to help people mitigate their anxious feelings and lead rich, fulfilling lives despite the discomfort that anxiety can bring.

According to research by George Bonanno, those with a range of active coping strategies are very resilient in the face of anxiety.

Examples of proactive avoidance include taking bathroom breaks or stepping out for a phone call at a party when feeling overwhelmed.

This type of aversion can provide some much-needed time and space to regroup before re-engaging with others.

In the wake of traumatic events such as the attacks on the World Trade Center, many sought comfort in tangible activities like meeting friends outside or returning to work.

Other techniques like breathing exercises and meditation have become popular active coping methods as well.

Knowing how to consciously take slow, deep breaths immediately reduces levels of stress.

Similarly, focused attention and open monitoring (which involves self-observation without judgement) also aide in significantly diffusing anxious energies this way.

Active coping is subjective; what works for one person might not work for another and vice versa.

It’s important to identify which type of active coping works best for you in order to MaximiZe the effectiveness of regulating your anxiety levels.

Wrap Up

In Anxious, the key message is that anxiety disorders are complex and must be handled with care.

They involve many different kinds of processes in our brains and often lead to hypervigilance regarding potential threats.

It’s important to remember that anxiety is both experienced internally as an emotion and externally in physical ways.

The best way to treat anxiety disorder is by addressing all these angles.

The actionable advice offered in Anxious is quite simple: if you want to remember something, take a nap!

Taking some time for reflection after learning something new or taking notes during a lecture are beneficial steps towards memory formation, but nothing beats a good nap right after it!

Naps will help your brain fully process memories so they can then become easily recalled later on.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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