“The Isolating Effects of Anxiety”


In Scientific American, Daniel Yudkin discusses studies examining some of the ways in which anxiety can change how people think, and inhibit social connections and empathic understanding.

“The idea that anxiety impairs perspective-taking is important because it is just this sort of nervousness that crops up when an empathic connection is most sorely needed,” writes Yudkin. “A public speaking gig, a job interview, even the act of teaching a child to read: all require a nuanced understanding of what it’s like to be the other person in the room. So by allowing anxiety to occupy our thoughts we might actually be undercutting our odds of success at the most critical social moments.”

The Isolating Effects of Anxiety (Scientific American, June 16, 2015)

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    • Too true. Anxiety is often a function of being hyper-conscious of what others are or may be thinking, and a lack of ability to focus on one’s own needs in the moment. I say this as a lifetime anxious person who has learned other approaches. I’m as empathetic as all get out, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about rejection and embarrassment and humiliation, which are very real possibilities when dealing with other people who really DON’T have empathy for others. It is only through refocusing in a less purely empathetic way (because I KNOW I’m only rarely going to err in the direction of being too self-centered!) that I am able to set boundaries and reasonable expectations that reduce my anxiety considerably.

      —- Steve

    • That’s a claim that psych-professionals wage very often against people with “mental illness”. Very popular for BPD label – described as crazy b**es who lack empathy. I think some people working in this professions don’t know what they’re talking about. Maybe they should first find some empathy in themselves.