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Rosenberg, E. (1949). Anxiety and the Capacity to Bear It. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 30:1-12.

(1949). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 30:1-12

Anxiety and the Capacity to Bear It

Elizabeth Rosenberg

This paper has been developed from two clinical lectures on the subject of Anxiety States given to second-year students this winter. During the necessary revision of analytic literature on the subject of anxiety itself, which preparation for these lectures entailed, the double orientation towards the subject, typified for example by Freud's distinction between primary and secondary anxiety, became more and more obvious. I reached the conclusion, in addition, that there have been few attempts to correlate the premises on which much modern work has been based, with earlier theoretical formulations regarding the psychopathology of anxiety. The first aim, therefore, in this paper is to review briefly the history and development of analytic thought regarding the essential nature of anxiety in order to state as clearly as possible those aspects of theory which, although still incomplete, appear to be relatively non-controversial, in that they are compatible with considerable differences of opinion in respect to other basic concepts. In contrast, I also wish to define other important theoretical concepts, particularly with regard to the nature and origin of internal danger situations, which appear far more controversial and in respect to which differences of opinion tend to give rise to unavoidable theoretical controversy.

The second aim, owing to the fact that my own interest in this subject was originally stimulated by my opportunity during the war of examining a large number of anxious soldiers to a greater or lesser depth, has a more direct clinical bearing.

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