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Woltmann, A.G. (1950). Die Angst Als Abendländische Krankheit (Anxiety as an Occidental Disease): By Arnold Künzli. Zürich: Rascher Verlag, 1948. 290 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:603-605.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:603-605

Die Angst Als Abendländische Krankheit (Anxiety as an Occidental Disease): By Arnold Künzli. Zürich: Rascher Verlag, 1948. 290 pp.

Review by:
Adolf G. Woltmann

This book seeks to arrive at a new understanding of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and his personal life, which reflects the problem of the modern 'Lebensangst', which Nietzsche called a European disease, and which is best translated as the 'dread of life', rather than anxiety.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I is followed by three chapters which briefly describe Kierkegaard's philosophical system as a protest against his contemporary culture. Part III is called the Anxiety Neurosis. In nine chapters the author relates Kierkegaard's life to his philosophical system. Part IV contains a reflection of Kierkegaard's philosophy in the twentieth century. The author leans very heavily on both freudian psychoanalysis and on Jung's analytical psychology for an evaluation of Kierkegaard the man and Kierkegaard the philosopher. Künzli goes into Kierkegaard's life in great detail, and he tries to show that Kierkegaard's personal life influenced and shaped his philosophy.

Kierkegaard was the youngest of seven children, all of whom resulted from his father's second marriage. His mother had been housekeeper while his father's first wife was still alive. His father was a very religious Pietist but that did not prevent the housekeeper from becoming pregnant by him shortly after the death of his first wife. The father was fifty-six years old when Søren was born. He grew up with the feeling that his father was senile and throughout life he suffered from the fact that he did not have a normal, healthy childhood. His philosophical contemplations are full of reflections about his unhappy youth and his upbringing, which probably laid the foundation for his formulation of problems about existentialism.

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