My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

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Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The Seattle Times and The Boston Globe.

The New York Times "Ambitious and bravely intimate...A thrilling intellectual chase."

Publishers Weekly "Stossel's journey through his own life is unsparing, darkly funny (a nervous stomach tends to flare up at the worst times, like in front of JFK Jr.), but above all, hopeful."

Louis Menand, The New Yorker "Admirably done...Intelligent, interesting, and well-written."

Jen Chaney, The Washington Post "The word 'brave' tends to get thrown around pretty cavalierly in our culture, but given the frankness of this book, there's no other appropriate word for what Stossel does here."

Matt Price, Newsday "Without meaning to, Stossel has written a self-help manual. There is no miracle cure for anxiety, he suggests--we can manage our fears and worries, even if we can never quite tame them."

Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe "The book is astonishingly thorough and lucidly written....'My Age of Anxiety' is so good, so copiously reported and completist, in large part thanks to Stossel's harsh expectations of himself...He seems to have run a net across the libraries of the world to capture every little fact and big question about his subject, then found the most strategic place to drop them in the narrative....Even more than the encyclopedic material, though, Stossel's many personal stories are what give 'My Age of Anxiety' its narrative unity and its emotional weight."

Kirkus (starred review) "In this captivating and intimate book, the editor of the Atlantic spares no detail about his lifelong struggle with anxiety and contextualizes his personal experience within the history of anxiety's perception and treatment....Throughout, the author's beautiful prose and careful research combine to make this book informative, thoughtful and fun to read. Powerful, eye-opening and funny. Pitch perfect in his storytelling, Stossel reminds us that, in many important ways, to be anxious is to be human."

Booklist (starred review) "Stossel's book is more than an astounding autobiography, more than an atlas of anxiety. His deft handling of a delicate topic and frustrating illness highlights the existential dread, embarrassment, and desperation associated with severe anxiety, yet allows room for resiliency, hope, transcendence. Absolutely fearless writing."

The Wall Street Journal "Sheds light not just on a particular disorder but on the human condition that gives rise to it."

Forbes "Quite impressive....Stossel is a terrific, companionable writer."

Daily Telegraph "An immense achievement....Superbly wide-ranging."

Seattle Times "Scott Stossel's new book...is outstanding in the fullest sense of the word....Both conspicuous and superior within its genre."

Dallas Morning News "Powerful, eye-opening and funny. Pitch perfect in his storytelling, Stossel reminds us that, in many important ways, to be anxious is to be human."

Bookforum "Enthralling...an extraordinary literary performance....It is also--I hope I don't sound like a publicist--extremely useful....In an age inundated by memoirs and psychic self-help books, My Age of Anxiety is the rare memoir that tells an entirely compelling story, and the rare self-help book that really helps."

Amy Bloom, O Magazine "Erudite, heartfelt, and occasionally darkly funny."

Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon "Scott Stossel has produced the definitive account of anxiety, weaving together science, history, and autobiography. His writing is evocative and often witty, disarmingly intimate, and wonderfully empathetic. This story has needed to be told, and Stossel tells it with edgy frankness."


A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author's struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition.

As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood.

Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists. Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as on the afflicted generations of his own family. His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion's myriad manifestations and the anguish anxiety produces but also the countless psychotherapies, medications, and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll--its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze--while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it.

My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.