Scott Stossel

January 20, 2014 - Scott Stossel 01/20/2014 Views: 16,211

"My Age of Anxiety" author Scott Stossel shares his idiosyncratic phobias and discusses the origins of human anxiety. (6:47)

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THEEDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC. HIS

NEW BOOK IS CALLED AGE OFANXIETY: FEAR, HOPE, DREAD AND

THE SEARCH FOR PEACE OF MIND.

WELL HE'S NOT GONNA GET IT HERE.

PLEASE WELCOME SCOTT STOSSEL.

HEY, SCOTT, THANKS SOME OFFOR COMING ON.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

>> OKAY, I WILL GET TOYOUR BOOK IN A SECOND BUT

FIRST YOU'RE THE EDITOR OFTHE ATLANTIC, THE AUTHOR OF

SARGE: LIFE ANDTIMES OF SARGENT SHRIVER,

YOU HAVEWRITTEN FOR "THE NEW YORKER",

NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREETJOURNAL,

BUT YOUR NEW BOOK AGE OFANXIETY, FEAR, HOPE, DREAD

AND THE SEARCH FOR PEACE OFMIND.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY AGE OFANXIETY.

ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ANXIOUSPERSON?

>> YES.

>> Stephen: ARE YOU ANXIOUSRIGHT NOW.

>> TERRIFIED.

>> Stephen: REALLY?

>> WELL, NO, I'M DOING OKAY.

SO BASICALLY I HAVE SINCETHE AGE OF ABOUT 2 AS I SAY

IN THE BOOK BEEN KIND OF ATWITCHY BUNDLE OF PHOBIAS,

NEUROSES, ANXIETIES, ALLKINDS OF STRANGE

IDIOSYNCRATIC PHOBIAS LIKEFOR INSTANCE CHEESE AND-- .

>> Stephen: YOU HAVE A FEAROF CHEESE.

>> YEAH, I WILL NEVER GO TOWISCONSIN.

>> Stephen: WHAT IS IT ABOUTCHEESE THAT FRIGHTENS YOU.

>> IT'S UTTERLY-- WELL, IT'SIRRATIONAL-- .

>> Stephen: OKAY.

>> THIS IS WHAT IS SOPECULIAR ABOUT ANXIETIES.

BASICALLY YOU KNOW, I TELLPEOPLE THAT I WOULD RATHER

BE BURIED IN A SARCOPHAGUSFULL OF RATS AND SNAKES

WHICH I'M NOT AFRAID OFTHOUGH MANY PEOPLE ARE THEN

BE DIPPED INTO LIKEGORGONZOLA.

(LAUGHTER)AND-- .

>> Stephen: SO NO CHEESE.

>> NO CHEESE.

>> Stephen: SO YOU'RE GOODWITH VELVEETA THOUGH.

>> NO, NO, NOT EVEN VELVEETA.

SO I SET OUT TO WRITE THISBOOK BECAUSE I'VE STRUGGLED

WITH ANXIETY DISORDERS ALLMY LIFE.

AND I FINALLY, AND I WASSORT OF FASCINATED BY THE

NOTION OF LIKE WHAT CAUSEDTHIS.

SO I, LOOKED DEEP INTO THESCIENCE, THE CULTURE, THE

HISTORY, IS IT GENETIC, HOWI WAS RAISED.

AND I REALIZED.

AND I ENDED UP WRITING THISBOOK THAT ACTUALLY APPLIES

TO THE 40 MILLION AMERICANSWHO ARE CLINICALLY DIAGNOSED

WITH ANXIETY DISORDERS.

>> Stephen: LET'S BE CLEAR.

ANXIETY AND FEAR, ARE THEYTHE SAME THING?

BECAUSE FEAR HAS GOT A NICESHARP EDGE TO IT, ANXIETY CAN

FEEL LIKE A SMOLDERING FIRE.

>> RIGHT.

WELL, SO-- .

>> Stephen: .

>> I HAVE, I WOULD SAY ANORMALLY PRUDENT AVOIDANCE

OF FIRE BUT THAT IS NOT ONEOF MY-- .

>> Stephen: YOU'RE NOT LIKEFRANKENSTEIN.

>> NO.

NO, SO ANXIETY IS WHEN IT'SAPPROPRIATELY DEPLOYED IS AN

EVOLUTIONARY RESPONSE, ANADAPTIVE EVOLUTIONARY

RESPONSE, FIGHT OR FLIGHTRESPONSE.

IN THE STATE OF NATURE IFYOU ARE WERE BEING ATTACKED

BY A SABRE TOOTH TIGER ORENEMY TRIBE.

>> Stephen: OR A PLATE OFGORGONZOLA.

>> IT WOULD BE INCREDIBLYADAPTIVE TO HAVE THIS

RESPONSE WHERE YOURADRENALINE STARTS FIRING AND

BLOOD FLOWS TO YOUR STRONGMUSCLES AND MAYBE YOU VOID

YOUR BOWELS.

BUT THAT HAPPENS.

>> Stephen: SURE.

>> IT LIGHTENS YOU TO BEABLE TO RUN. BUT

THE PROBLEM IS FOR PEOPLETHAT HAVE ANXIETY DISORDER,

AND NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE WITHANXIETY DISORDERS BUT FOR

ALL OF US IN MODERN LIFE,YOU ARE NOT OFTEN BEING

CHASED BY A SABRE TOOTHTIGER.

BUT THE SAME SORT OFPHYSIOLOGICAL FIGHT OR

FLIGHT RESPONSE HAPPENS WHENYOUR WIFE GETS, YOU KNOW,

MYSTERIOUS LETTER FROM HEREX-BOYFRIEND OR WHEN THE

BOSS LOOK AT YOU FUNNY.

AND YOU HAVE THE SAME KINDOF FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE

AND YOU END UP KIND-OF-MARINATING IN THIS

STEW OF UNUSED CHEMICALSSTRESS HORMONES WHICH CAN BE

VERY DAMAGING TO YOU OVERTHE LONG TERM.

>> Stephen: SO WHAT, YOUSAID YOU HAVE HAD THIS SINCE

YOU WERE TWO.

DO YOU REMEMBER BEING AFRAIDAT THAT AGE.

>> OH, YEAH, WHEN I WAS ALITTLE KID I WAS ALWAYS

CONVINCED AND AGAIN INRETROSPECT, COMPLETELY

IRRATIONAL I WAS ALWAYSCONVINCED MY PARENTS WERE

GONE, THIS IS CALLEDSEPARATION ANXIETY WHICH IS

A NORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL STAGEWHEN YOU ARE THREE OR FOUR.

I HAD IT WHEN I WAS THREE THREEAND FOUR ACUTELY BUT THEN

WHEN I WAS NINE, 10, 11 AND12, AND I USED TO TORMENT

MY POOR SISTER WHO WAS TWOYEARS YOUNGER THAN ME.

AND IF MY PARENTS WEREN'TTHERE AND AT A PARTY AND 15

MINUTES LATE I WOULD MAKEHER CALL THE PARTY AND SAY

LIKE, I'M SORRY, I'M SCOTT'SBROTHER, HE'S CRAZY, ARE HIS

PARENTS STILL ALIVE.

>> Stephen: SO IF YOURPARENTS WEREN'T THERE YOU

THOUGHT THEY WERE GONEFOREVER.

>> I WAS CONVINCED, IT WASNOT RATIONAL BUT I WAS

CONVINCED THAT THEY EITHERWERE NOT REALLY MY PARENTS

OR WERE CONDUCTING SOME SORTOF HORRIBLE EXPERIMENT AND

JUST DECIDED TO LEAVE.

>> Stephen: SO PEEKABOO WASNOT A LOT OF FUN FOR YOU.

>> PEEKABOO WAS TERRIFYING.

>> Stephen: SO WHAT DO YOUDO?

HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?

BECAUSE IN YEARS PAST, THISSORT OF THING WOULD BE

TREATED BY AND I HOPE I'MPRONOUNCING THIS

CORRECTLY-- ALCOHOL, HOW DOYOU AND HOW DO 40 MILLION

OTHER PEOPLE TREAT THIS KINDOF ANXIETY.

>> SO I HAVE, I TRIED LOTSOF THINGS BUT I AM MEDICATED

AND AGAIN THIS IS THE SORTOF THING THAT I NEVER

ADMITTED BECAUSE I WASASHAMED OF IT I TAKE

ANTI-DEPRESSANTS, BENZODIAZEPINE, WHICH IS

>> Stephen: XANAX.

>> AN ANTI-ANXIETYMEDICATION.

>> Stephen: DID YOU BRINGENOUGH FOR THE WHOLE CLASS.

>> I HAVE SOME, DO YOU WANT METO SHARE, I DON'T KNOW.

>> Stephen: WHAT ARE SOME OFTHE THINGS THAT YOU ARE

AFRAID OF.

>> WELL, OKAY,.

>> Stephen: YOU NAME YOURSAND I WILL NAME MINE.

>> OKAY.

>> Stephen: I WILL GO FIRST,ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

(LAUGHTER)>> I DON'T KNOW THE TERM FOR

THAT ONE BUT THAT'S A GOODONE.

WELL, CHEESE, MY MOST ACUTEONE AND LONGEST STANDING AND

THIS, I THINK COMPLETELYRATIONAL BUT I KNOW THAT

MOST PEOPLE THINK IT'SIRRATIONAL, EMETOPHOBIA

WHICH IS THE FIFTH MOSTCOMMON, WHICH IS

PATHOLOGICAL FEAR OFVOMITING WHICH I HAVE NOT

DONE SINCE 1977.

>> Stephen: IS IT YOUR VOMITOR THAT SOMEONE WILL VOMIT

ON YOU?

>> THAT I WILL VOMIT.

>> Stephen: THAT'S MY FEAR.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO, HOW DOYOU TREAT IT.

>> I COULD VOMIT ON YOURIGHT NOW AND I WOULD BE

CURED AND YOU WOULD BE CURED.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)DO YOU HAVE A GOOD CUSTODIAL

STAFF HERE?

(LAUGHTER)>> Stephen: THE BOOK IS MY

AGE OF ANXIETY.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.