Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 277–285 | Cite as

The language of anxiety: The subjective experience of vulnerability

  • Erwin Randolph Parson


The experience of anxiety is a condition known to mankind from time immemorial. In contemporary clinical practice anxiety is the driving force behind some of the most difficult and seemingly intractable clinical syndromes presented to clinicians today. It presents a major challenge to non-clinical populations as well. This paper discusses the problem of anxiety from the perspective of language —the primitive roots of language. How understanding these roots helps therapists to better grasp their patients' inner experience and some suggestions for anxiety management are discussed.


Public Health Clinical Practice Social Psychology Subjective Experience Clinical Syndrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Averill, J. (1970).Emotion and anxiety: Sociocultural, biological, and Psychological determinants. Unpublished manuscript. University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Google Scholar
  2. Averill, J. (1971).Emotion and visceral activity: A case study in psyche/physiological symbolism. Unpublished manuscript. University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Google Scholar
  3. Blitz, R. and Greenberg, R. (1984). Nightmares of the traumatic neuroses: Implications for theory and treatment. In J. Schwartz (Ed.),Psychotherapy of the combat veteran. New York: Spectrum.Google Scholar
  4. Buck, C. (1949).A dictionary of selected synonyms in the principal Indo-European languages: A contribution to the histoiy of ideas. Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Beck, A. T. and Emory, G. (1985).Anxiety disorders and phobias: A cognitive perspective. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Cassirer, E. (1942).Language and myth. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  7. Fenichel, O. (1945).The Psychoanalytic theory of neurosis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  8. Freud, S. (1910/1959). The antithetical sense of primal words. InCollected Papers. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Freud, S. (1926/1959). Inhibitions, symptoms, and anxiety.Standard edition. London: Hogarth.Google Scholar
  10. Freud, S. (1936).The problem of anxiety. New York: The Psychoanalytic Quarterly Press and W. Norton and Company.Google Scholar
  11. Goldstein, K. (1951). On emotions: Considerations from the organismic point of view.Journal of Psychology, 31, 37–49.Google Scholar
  12. Harper's Latin Dictionary (1909). New York: American Book Company.Google Scholar
  13. Kreitler, S. and Kreitler, H. (1988). Trauma and anxiety: The cognitive approach.Journal of Traumatic Stress, 1, 35–56.Google Scholar
  14. Liddell, H. and Scott, R. (1889). Greek-English Lexicon. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  15. Meichenbaum, D. (19xx).Cognitive behavior therapy: An integrative approach. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  16. Onions, C. (Ed.) (1966).The Oxford dictionary of English etymology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  17. Parson, E. R. (1988a). Post-traumatic self disorders. In J. Wilson, Z. Harel, and B. Kahana (Eds.),Human adaptation to extreme stress: From the Holocaust to Vietnam. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  18. Parson, E. R. (1988b). The unconscious history of Vietnam in the group: An innovative model for working through authority transferences in guilt-driven veterans.International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 38, 275–301.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Sullivan, H. S.The Interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  20. Thass-Thienemann, T. (1973).The interpretation of language, Vol. II: Understanding the unconscious meaning of language. New York: Aronson.Google Scholar
  21. Wilmer, H. (1982). Post-traumatic stress disorder.Psychiatric Annals, 12, 995–1003.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwin Randolph Parson
    • 1
  1. 1.Perry Point

Personalised recommendations