The Truth About Anxiety and Desire, Essay Example

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According to the experts, anxiety is a direct feeling of fear or overpowering feeling of fear of something. Fear, in any form, has the possibility to change a person’s feelings and mess with a person’s head. According to Freud in “The Dream-Work,” “the verbal transformations in dreams are very similar to those which are known to occur in paranoia, and which are observed also in hysteria and obsessions.” Paranoia, hysteria and obsessions can all be a part of fear. They are the reaction to fear and anxiety has the power to create these feelings and vice versa. According to Judith Butler in “Imitation and Gender Insubordination,” anxiety is a discomfort and that it has something to do with redoubling (p. 311). Butler gives the example of going to Yale to be a lesbian when she has clearly been a lesbian longer than that. She isn’t going to Yale to be a lesbian, but she may continue to be a lesbian at Yale. This brings anxiety, a certain discomfort. She also uses the example of homophobia and the violence that occurs due to it. The violence initiates anxiety and one must not counteract the violence with availability of another threat. According to Slavoj Zizek, our anxieties are intensified by feelings of worry and sorrows. He states the following in reference to Bushy’s metaphor in Richard II:

He refers to the simple, commonsense opposition between a thing as it is “in itself,” in reality, and its “shadows,” reflections in our eyes, subjective impressions multiplied because of our anxieties and sorrows. When we are worried, a small difficulty assumes giant proportions; we see the thing as far worse than it really is.

Anxiety is our way of exerting the fear in which we possess on a continual basis no matter what type of fear it is.

Desire is not that far off from anxiety in the way in which we conceptualize it. Zizek, Freud and Kristeva all attempt to help us understand desire in specific ways. Our desires come from fascination, imagination and ironic distance (Zizek, 1989, p. 39). Zizek compares desires to pornography, the cinema, and nostalgia claiming that these arouse our senses and provide us with a sense of desire. Our imaginations and fascinations with the ways in which people act or the way in which we see something create a sense of desire for us. Kristeva believes that our desires come from a spatial apparatus. She gives examples of a child’s first laugh and the range of symbolic manifestations that occur afterwards. She also states that desire depends on the sexual difference of individuals. Women have desires of motherhood, of fulfillment; men have desires of power, of strength in all that they do. Finally, Freud describes things that are uncanny not only as things that people are fearful of, but also of specific desires. Just because something is uncanny and may be fearful does not mean that it is. The uncanny may be something that drives our desires. The unfamiliar, the difference between one thing and another, the surprise in things that we do may be part of our own specific desires. Freud states the following in “The Uncanny”:

The most remarkable coincidences of desire and fulfillment, the most mysterious recurrence of similar experiences in a particular place or on a particular date, the most deceptive sights and suspicious noises – none of these things will take him in or raise that kind of fear which can be described as “a fear of something uncanny” (p. 17).

Our desires are part of our imagination. We hold fast to those desires as we go throughout many moments in our lives and the only way in which we are able to come back to reality is through the anxieties of life, the everyday normal. Our desires, according to Zizek, Freud and Kristeva, are based on the imagination that lies within us, the daydreaming we do, the dreams in which we have and the ways in which we see things during our lifetimes.

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