Category: Adult Non-Fiction (18+) (336 pages)
Genre: Self-Help/How To
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Release date: January 2020
Tour dates: Jan 13 to Feb 7, 2020
Content Rating: PG
With strategically developed exercises, this book offers a unique, integrative approach to healing and growth, based on an understanding of how the psyche organizes itself around anxiety. It provides insights into the architecture of anxiety, introducing the dynamics of the “core fear” (one’s fundamental interpretation of danger in the world) and “chief defense” (the primary strategy for protecting oneself from threat). The anxious personality is then built upon this foundation, creating a “three dimensional, multi-sensory hologram” within which one can feel trapped and helpless.
Replete with processes that bring the theoretical background into technicolor, Deconstructing Anxiety provides a clear roadmap to resolving this human dilemma, paving the way to an ultimate and transcendent freedom. Therapists and laypeople alike will find this book essential in helping design a life of meaning, purpose and enduring fulfillment.
TODD E. PRESSMAN, Ph.D.
Author of Deconstructing Anxiety
- Would you tell us about your journey to writing Deconstructing Anxiety (Rowman & Littlefield)?
I always seemed to have a strong philosophical bent, even from an early age. In adolescence, I began asking the usual existential questions like “Why are we here?” “Who am I really?” “What is the meaning of life?” etc., but I came to these things with quite an intensity, determined to find real answers. Eventually, this led to a spiritual quest, at the same time that I was pursuing a degree in psychology. The two combined to create, over many years of personal and professional exploration, the Deconstructing Anxiety program. I do believe that it answers the questions of how to find out who we are and what is the purpose in our lives with a solid philosophical base and effective, reliable exercises that really help life work better.
- Would you also shed light on the related concept of a chief defense?
The chief defense is our primary strategy for protecting ourselves from the core fear. Just as we meet every situation with the question of whether it might confront us with our core fear, we are prepared to use our chief defense if protection proves necessary. For example, someone whose core fear is of abandonment might adopt a chief defense of becoming a people-pleaser, or they might become what in psychology we call a dependent personality. Both of these (and a huge array of other possibilities) might constitute a chief defense, if the person believes it will protect them from the experience of abandonment they so dread. And, as with the core fear, once we land on a chief defense as our best understanding for how to protect ourselves from the core fear, we look through its lens in every situation, ready to use the defense at a moment’s notice, should a situation threaten us in some way.
- How does the fear-defense mechanism affect not only individuals and families, but also government regulations, social conditioning, and wars?
A group of any size (from a couple to a society to a world) will develop its own “culture” which is really a description of its core fear interpretation of how to reach for fulfillment while ensuring safety first, and its chief defense strategy for how to achieve that safety. Governmental regulations are designed to maximize fulfillment (“the common good”) while protecting against threats to that fulfillment. Social mores are additional aspects of the culture that monitor where it is safe or acceptable to pursue fulfillment and what restrictions must be observed to keep order and protect from selfishness, greed, etc. War is an almost complete expression of the core fear (one group feels threatened by them and declares war) and uses their chief defense as the strategy to try to win that war, protect their interests and so forth. Hopefully, there is still some recognition of the need to preserve fulfillment, resulting in Geneva Conventions, war tribunals, and other understandings of the need to bring some order to the horror.
- Would you enlighten us about the practice of “Vision Questing”?
After fear is resolved, the way to fulfillment is clear. Vision questing is a way to detail what fulfillment looks like for each of us (where our talents, passions and gifts lie), and then use all the other practices from the book for moving through any fears and defenses that would try to interfere with our achievement of that fulfillment. Of course, this is an ongoing practice since we have a lifetime’s habit of fear and defense to counter, but as we become more and more skilled, and as we adopt a Vision that deeply inspires us, it becomes easier to move through such fears and defenses.
- You state in your book: “The only way to make real change, whether on an individual or global basis, is to resolve our fear.” Towards that goal, what would you most like readers to take away from Deconstructing Anxiety?
That, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, there is a fear at the root of the problem and this fear can be unearthed and resolved. There is literally nothing outside of us that can rob us of our chance for fulfillment, even in the worst of circumstances. Viktor Frankl demonstrated this in the Nazi concentration camps, and Thich Nath Hanh demonstrated this in the killing fields of Vietnam. Even if we protest that they were exceptional people, we must devote ourselves to this goal. Otherwise, we are arguing against the possibility of true fulfillment in life, real answers to resolving suffering, and how can we ever be satisfied with that?