Anxiety in Middle-Class America
Sociology of Emotional Insecurity in Late Modernity
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Showing how Americans have massively turned to a self-help empowerment model to manage chronic feelings of insecurity, Anxiety in Middle-Class America explains why no group has ever been as anxious about anxiety and interested in tackling it as a moral and personal problem.
Anxiety is the focus of increasing preoccupation and intervention in middle-class America and the late modern world. It is reportedly the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting almost a quarter of its adult population every year. Views diverge on what this means. This work is for readers who are intrigued by the exponential rise in reported rates of anxiety across the lifespan and by all the talk about anxiety, dissatisfied with non-sociological and symptom-based accounts of mental health, and open-minded enough to consider the self-help phenomenon as more than an oppressive craze driven by capitalist industry, neoliberal ideology, complicit publishers, formulaic writers, and irreflexive consumers.
In providing a sociologically informed account of some of the most widespread emotional troubles of late modern life and the unique historical pressures that promote them, this work will be of interest to researchers in a broad range of fields, from sociology, anthropology, and mind/body/society studies, to cultural history, communications, and social philosophy. It will also interest mental health professionals and cultural critics.
Table of Contents
1. Sociology of contemporary anxiety
2. Self-help for emotional insecurity
3. Separation anxiety
4. Social anxiety
5. Generalized anxiety
6. Existential anxiety
7. Health Anxiety
8. Performance anxiety
Annex A: List of self-help titles
Valérie de Courville Nicol is Professor of Sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the author of Social economies of fear and desire: emotional regulation, emotion management, and embodied autonomy (2011) and of Le soupçon gothique: l’intériorisation de la peur en Occident (2004).