Understanding the Anxious Mind.

Article: Marantz, H. R. (2009). “Understanding the Anxious Mind.” New York Times. Retrieved on 4 October, 2009.


Summary of article: This article discusses the reaerch conducted by psychologists into persons are constantly anxious and worry a lot.

The ide is that certain people are “predisposed” to be anxious.

Research conducted on infants as young as 6 months old showed to the psychologists (atleast to some extent) that babies who tended to be highly reactive, that is who react immediately to new soights and sounds, mostly in a negative way, tend to grow up to be anxious and shy teenagers and adults.

The article also points out that these anxious babies tend to be become melancholy and introverted as they grow older with few friends and social life.

The article also discusses that those teenagers and adults who recognized this “trait” within themselves seemed to do better at controlling/overcoming their anxious nature.

The benefits of a reactive, anxious temparament are also mentioned. Artists, writers and scientists tend to be introspective. Worrying can become a help rather than a hindrance when it helps you prepare better for tests, plan ahead for meetings and talks, and never to miss a flight because you are always early.

User groups: There are people for whom anxiety is a clinical disorder, others who tend to worry a lot more about the little and big things of life, those who tend to focus a lot of thier worries on the day-to-day aspects of life. In short, all sorts of worriers, but mostly those to whom worrying is a way of life, form this user group.

Conceptual Design: The concept that worrying can be a predisposed trait, just as being left or right handed, will open new doors to help people deal with this issue better. Certainly any predisposition need not be carried through to adulthood, nor does a worrying “gene” give people the right to be melancholy and “negative” (hey, it is in genes!), but a recognition of this fact will enable people to seek out ways to overcome this.

Interestingly, the article does not discuss the hereditary nature of this anxious mind, and particularly cross-gender traits that get passed from father to daughter and mother to son.

Perhaps there is nothing to be gained from it except to blame your parents! (and I guess they don’t reaaly need more of that or rather children don’t need more reasons to blame!)

Interaction: The popularity of mind and body yoga classes, spiritual gurus, mushrooming of stress relief camps, particularly in the corporate world, and the huge demand that still exists for psychiatrists and psychologists are all pointers to the industry that is thriving by catering to the needs of the anxious people. Self-help books are prodcuts that have been designed for this user group in mind.

As this article suggests, if those with an anxious mind can come with ways to engage themselves, either though ballet, or a joining a worry group, they can calm their  minds and rid themselves of the anxiousness, however briefly.

The product possibilities include those mentioned above, yoga, self-help gurus and books. But also the role of family in helping teenagers (and perhaps even adults) stop worrying is a big one. Family themed meditation centers is one possibilty for those so inclined. Websites that help form and find support groups, link to toastmaster’ clubs that help with public speaking , forming hiking groups may also help. These in turn could lead to advertisements and revenue for such web sites.

There are plenty of people who “take advantage” of genetic traits and the fears they might generate…

Interface: Not discussed/applicable to this article

  1 comment for “Understanding the Anxious Mind.

  1. April 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    User Groups: Personality traits really do have genetic/chemical/physical components to them. And it’s all about allocation of cognitive resources—there’s just so much to go around and if it is used to experience and control anxiety, it is not used on problem solving…

    Conceptual Design: I’m not sure it’s just about the blame game. If I had a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, I would want to know and make plans and actions accordingly with my chances of getting the disease. The same is true of cognitive traits—mental illness has a strong genetic component. But does it “pay” to blame your genetics?

    Interface: There are plenty of people who “take advantage” of genetic traits and the fears they might generate…

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