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My Age of Anxiety

Scott Stossel

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author’s struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition


The Bottom Line

An unfiltered account of what it means to suffer from acute anxiety — including the science behind it, the many types of treatment, and an acknowledgment that while there might not be a cure, we can manage our fears.

I. Introduction

Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, has been worried since he was a child. Starting at the age of 2, he’s suffered from a debilitating fear of flying, vomiting, public speaking, separation, and all manner of everyday challenges most people put up with without much complaint. But his anxiety is extreme, putting him through decades of therapy and convincing him to try countless drugs — without much improvement.

Despite the tenacity of his ordeal, he attended Harvard, excelled as a journalist and became the top editor at The Atlantic, and still he was beset by crippling nerves. So he decided to examine his disorder with a reporter’s eye — digging into the biological, cultural and environmental roots of the affliction. In addition to candidly describing details of his lifelong struggle, Stossel also shares the perspectives of his psychiatrists and his great-grandfather, a longtime dean of Harvard who retired early and spent his remaining years plagued by anxiety, leaving behind a trail of medical records.

This 2013 bestseller is not heavy on the self-help but contains actionable information and contextualizes many ideas about anxiety and depression — while also helping anyone to better understand a loved one who suffers from the affliction.

II. An Elusive Definition

III. A Condition That Feeds on Itself

IV. Parenting in the Age of Anxiety

V. A Product of the Times—Or Not

VI. The Goldilocks Syndrome

VII. No Easy Fix

The Takeaway


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