The best way I have of understanding anxiety as the experience we have when we don’t have access to the experience we need to know what is going on.
For example, if our experience of our feelings is in some way restricted so we don’t have access to information about our relationship with our environment, the experience is one of anxiety.
I often use the example of driving a car when the electrics fail, so we suddenly have no information about the speed we are travelling, whether there is fuel in the tank, or whether there is a problem with the engine. The experience is one of not-knowing, of not being in possession of the information we need in order to drive the car in a safe manner. This is my understanding of anxiety.
The theologian Paul Tillich described anxiety as ‘fear with no object’. It is close to fear, but not the same as. Anxiety is not a feeling in the sense in which I understand feelings. Freud originally understood anxiety as the result of repression, but later he reversed this and understood anxiety as a signal leading to repression.
Separation anxiety is the experience associated with losing connection to something or someone important to us, someone who orients us in the world. So, for example, when a parent leaves a child, the child is without a vital orienting component to their reality, without the information necessary for them to know about their relationship with the world.
Sorry I am busy with patients, but I will be back to write soon!