Carveth: Psychoanalytic Perspective of Anxiety

This blog post is based on a video by Don Carveth titled “ANXIETY” uploaded on August 7th, 2018. In the video, Carveth discusses anxiety from a psychoanalytic perspective, drawing on the works of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and other prominent figures in the field.

Unrecognized and Repressed Anger: A Common Thread in Anxiety

Carveth begins by highlighting the prevalence of anger among individuals struggling with anxiety, which often goes unrecognized and repressed. He argues that therapists often misinterpret anxiety as stemming from past trauma, overlooking the possibility that it might be a defense mechanism against unwanted anger.

Freud’s Evolving Theories of Anxiety

Carveth then delves into Freud’s early theory of anxiety, which he calls the “toxicological theory.” This theory proposes that anxiety arises from dammed-up libido, or sexual energy. Carveth explains that Freud later abandoned this theory and instead came to view anxiety as a product of repressed emotions, specifically focusing on two types of anxiety:

  • Traumatic anxiety (or automatic anxiety): This type of anxiety stems from feelings of helplessness and overwhelm in the face of a traumatic situation. Carveth uses the example of a newborn experiencing the trauma of birth.

“According to Freud’s ‘toxicological theory,’ anxiety arises from dammed-up libido, or sexual energy,” Carveth explains. “However, he later abandoned this theory and instead came to view anxiety as a product of repressed emotions.”

  • Signal anxiety: This type of anxiety serves as a warning signal of an impending danger, prompting the individual to take action to avoid it.

Challenging the Notion of Birth Trauma as the Sole Cause of Anxiety

Carveth critiques the work of Otto Rank, who believed that all anxiety could be traced back to the trauma of birth. Carveth argues against this notion, emphasizing that while the birth experience may be a prototype for anxiety, it is not the sole cause.

“While the birth experience may be a prototype for anxiety, it is not the sole cause,” Carveth argues.

The Superego’s Role in Anxiety and Guilt

The video then explores the concept of the superego and its role in generating anxiety and guilt. Carveth distinguishes between the superego and the conscience, explaining that the superego is punitive and judgmental, while the conscience fosters concern for others. He argues that repressing anger can lead to the development of a harsh superego, which manifests as persecutory anxiety and guilt.

“Repressing anger can lead to the development of a harsh superego, which manifests as persecutory anxiety and guilt,” Carveth argues.

Existential Anxiety: The Burden of Freedom

Carveth concludes the video by discussing the existential perspective on anxiety. He acknowledges the burden of freedom and the inherent anxieties associated with it. He argues that attempting to escape these anxieties through various means, such as seeking external guidance or numbing oneself through medication, is ultimately counterproductive. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of facing and accepting existential anxieties as part of the human condition.

“Existential anxiety is a product of the burden of freedom,” Carveth concludes. “Attempting to escape these anxieties is counterproductive. Instead, we must face and accept them as part of the human condition.”

A Thought-Provoking Exploration of Anxiety

Overall, Carveth’s video offers a thought-provoking exploration of anxiety from a psychoanalytic lens. He challenges traditional interpretations of anxiety and emphasizes the significance of recognizing and processing repressed emotions, particularly anger, in the therapeutic process.

It is important to note that this blog post summarizes the key points from the video but does not substitute for watching the entire video, which provides a more nuanced and detailed discussion of the topic.

I hope this blog post summary provides a helpful introduction to the key ideas explored in Don Carveth’s video on anxiety. If you want to learn more about this topic, I encourage you to watch the entire video.