With the practice of psychoanalysis, early Freudians and neo-Freudian’s wrote about personality development as well as the emotional difficulties encountered. For example, Alfred Adler hypothesized that the infant was helpless and as a consequence, through its development, strives for power, superiority and perfection. And that one’s lifestyle reflects this early-onset anxiety. Karen Horney, suggested that the isolated and helpless infant strives for security in order to reduce the pervasive feeling of subjective anxiety. Erich Fromm’s viewed that man’s birth or existence sets the stage for conflict and that the normal problem of man was dealing with the feeling of aloneness, as well as, insignificance. And that the individual seeks individuation and self-fulfillment through work, and loving relationships. Harry Stack Sullivan viewed man as pursuing satisfaction and security as a result of the insecurities, and loneliness that gets expressed within interpersonal relations. Further, a power motive also gets developed as well as personifications, as result of personal interactions.
These psychoanalytic theoreticians all view the importance, significance or role of anxiety during the human lifespan, especially in understanding neurosis. It’s a precursor and can be viewed as an underlining dynamic. Academic psychologists such as S. Schachter researched anxiety as an underlying motive as far as social affiliation was concerned. Karen Horney, Erich Fromm and Harry Stack Sullivan also incorporated affiliation [Although they used other terms] within their theories as result of their therapeutic work. They did not conduct research with college students. There subjects were males and females, some of which were college-aged.
Let’s see what Schachter found studying the relationship between anxiety and social affiliation, with his various psychological experiments. In one experiment, Schachter studied high anxiety females [they were told they would receive severe painful but not harmful, electrical shocks] and compared them to low anxiety females [they were told they had received mild shocks, and the shocks would feel like a tickle and would be harmless]. All the subjects were told that their physiological responses would be recorded. Before proceeding, these college females were told they could either wait alone in a comfortable room which had books and magazines or together in a classroom with other female students. A questionnaire was administered and the women gave their preference for either waiting alone or being together. The scale also assessed the degree of intensity of their expressed desire to wait alone or together. Prior, females were also given a choice of remaining for the experiment or leaving. Some chose not to take part. The difference between the intensity of the desire of the girls in the two groups to be with the others was significant compared to waiting alone, and suggested that anxiety leads to affiliative behavior in college women.
On further research with college subjects, Schachter found statistically significant evidence that firstborn tended to affiliate under stress conditions, while later born did not. Also, fewer firstborn were chronic alcoholics, entered into and stayed longer in psychotherapy, and fewer become fighter pilot aces compared to later born. Firstborn nursery school children were found to be more dependent and firstborn college males were found to be more conforming than later born siblings. Schachter believed that firstborn individuals had anxiety and pain relief by people more often and greater than later born children. Likely, because the mother was perhaps more worried and more sensitive to expressions of anxiety of her firstborn, compared to her later born children. More than likely, with the second child, the mother was more casual, relaxed and likely busier than she had been with her initial child. If this is so, the firstborn children should have received the more attention from others, especially from the mother than her anxious later born children.
I. Sarnoff and Phillip Zimbardo conducted psychological experiments relating fear to affiliation. In their studies, they found that when under a strong fear of electric shock, that their male subjects experienced more of a desire to affiliate compared to the others under low fear conditions. They also found that firstborn and only children showed more of a wish to affiliate under fear than did later born subjects [males]. In these studies that Incorporated both male and female college students, does the cliché “misery loves company” fit?
Wouldn’t you agree that there is evidence that anxiety - fear can be “easily “induced? This means that we are extremely vulnerable and sensitive to the spoken word. We scare easily. We also know that the world of advertising and various politicians manipulate and are masters and sophisticated at employing the tactic of fear. These politicians tell us if we do such and such or if we don’t do such and such , our lives will become disastrous , especially now, as well as for our children’s future. They expertly pedal fear. For example, our most recent created government agency [Homeland Security] was supposed to protect us from whatever. Do you currently feel more or less anxious as a result of the creation of Homeland Security? We have the greatest military in the history of the world, all sorts of treaties and multiple weapons of mass destruction. Also, our police forces are equipped with the latest military gear. Are we really safer and do we experience less anxiety as a result of all that spending and weaponry? Do more bullets and more guns help you in reducing your anxiety? You probably don’t even know the answer to that question. If you had a bazooka, would that do the trick?
As you know there many polls taken in this country. In responding to or filling out a survey, and when asked to rate your concerns, the word concern really refers to anxiety or fear. A dictionary definition of concern was “Solicitude or anxiety.” If your number one concern is the economy or employment, then you obviously experience anxiety, which translates into security, or lack thereof. These polls are really measuring the anxiety forces in your life.
Since we began early in life with a significant level of fear or anxiety, some level is always there, and it doesn’t take much to increase or heightened those symptoms of anxiety. Generally, focusing on belly breathing and being in the here and now, often helps in reducing these awful symptoms. Activity, exercise, yoga are also valuable tools that can be used. If these suggestions don’t work, find a good therapist since alcohol, drugs and other escapes, are other illusions and don’t solve the issue.