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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    From Hysteria to Anxiety and the swinging pendulum

    This post comes out of a theory I came up with in NYC a while ago and a discussion my girlfriend and I had about it last weekend. So it seems like I know a lot of people rite now who are taking anti-anxiety meds, and these are college aged people, what do they have to be anxious about? Sure the job market sucks, but its not like we are used to making the big bucks and have nice houses to pay for anyways, yet still, lots of people are on anxiety meds. I've noticed this particularly in girls and it reminded me of cases of hysteria in Freud's time, the treatment of which was the basis of a lot of Freud's work. Is "anxiety" just today's term for hysteria? I think it is. Freud famously found that many of the hysteric young woman he treated were very sexually conflicted or had had unnerving sexual experiences that caused their hysteria. The general population of the time was very sexually repressive, particularly for young women and this lead to conflicted people who did not know what to think about sex and sexuality. Could it be that our current society has some of these same issues going on? Girls are getting conflicting messages about sex and it is leading them to be anxious all the time and need anti-anxiety meds when there really isn't anything for them to have anxiety about. I feel this is true and that social responses to sexuality is like a swinging pendulum. Now I don't know what the era immediately preceding Freud's thoughts on sex and sexuality were, but I know sense that time we have gone through several periods of relatively sexually open and relatively sexually closed society's. The time leading up to the 40s and 50s were relatively progressive sexually, particularly as compared to the Victorian era. However in the 40s and 50s the pendulum swung back the other way and we saw a time of repressed sexuality and emergence and wide spread use of anti-depressants Then came the love generation of the 60s which ushered in a time of relatively free sexuality that lasted through the mid 80s probably and now I think we have swung back the other way. The swinging pendulum takes from hysteria through depression and into to days anxiety. Of course this is an oversimplified interpretation, but I do think the (what appears to me to be) wide spread use of anti-anxiety meds in young women in their 20's today is a sign that something is happening on a societal level. (Thanks go out to my girlfriend for some history help with this one)

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