RL: Freud defines anxiety as the product of intrapsychical conflict. Skinner defines it as a learned behavior. In Zen philosophy, anxiety is an evil to be removed. Heidegger, on the other hand, defines anxiety as ontological, in that it tells us about our humanness. It is for him not a by-product or a learned behavior‹or something to be avoided. To which of these definitions do you most closely subscribe?
WP: Check Heidegger. I would agree with him that we do a lot better treating anxiety (some forms, at least) as a kind of beckoning of the self to a self rather than as a symptom of illness. This is why in writing novels I often find that it works to turn things upside-down and to set forth a character‹say, a woman with severe free-floating anxiety‹as more interesting, more hopeful, possessing greater possibilities than, say, another perfectly adjusted symptom-free woman. To say this is to say a good deal more than that illness is more interesting than health.