January 23, 2014. 7:30pm. Ticket: $25. At the Goethe-Institut, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90036. Ample free street parking, as well as parking under the building with validation $1 after 6:00pm.
Who among us hasn’t felt uncertainty or doubt at important moments in our lives? Stress? Uncertainty is one thing, but panic and anxiety belong in a whole different bag altogether. And when we ask, who among us hasn’t felt panic and anxiety at important moments—or even at routine moments– it is most likely more common than we think.
Scott Stossel, the editor of The Atlantic, chronicles his battles with anxiety and panic in his new book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. It is personal to be sure—reliving moments, for example, in his sweat-drenched wedding, fighting to stave off vomiting and fainting. Or an incident in college when interviewing for an important fellowship, where he went completely mute, unable to utter a sound. Teetering on the edge of humiliation and success, on failure and adulation, Stossel explores the physical and mental aspects of social anxiety disorder. He traces historical accounts of anxiety sufferers, treatments from the medical community, explores familial relationship to the disorder, and reveals the many manifestations that anxiety can assume. It is debilitating, embarrassing, personally horrifying. But in Stossel’s account, while his experiences are sometimes really unnerving or funny to the outsider, he illuminates how he and others with this condition conquer their disability to wade through their moments of terror and panic. Panic and anxiety have existed for as long as people have had to interact with each other, and so have therapies and medications. My Age of Anxiety also proves that anxiety, and its consequential inhibitions, can have a small upside.
If David Kipen feels any panic about chatting with a Writers Bloc featured author, he has never displayed it. David is the creator of Libros Schmibros, his Boyle Heights-based lending library and book shop, and has been a book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and has written extensively on California literature and culture. He is a fellow at the USC Annenberg School in Arts Journalism, and a great friend to Writers Bloc.