Anxiety Therapist Helps Distraught Mother

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Despite the fact that she loved her child, Ms. S. was–by her own standards–a terrible parent. She loved young Anton desperately, but her love was often of little use, as weighed against her fear.

Ms. S. was a chronic worrier. She married Mr. Q only out of fear, out of a perceived need for security. She dropped out of university to be involved with Mr. Q because Q had a job, and she was unreasonably afraid that she would never get a job, despite the fact that she received mostly good marks and was well qualified in her field: computer science. She also felt that she needed to turn somewhere else in order to separate herself from her family.

Alas, her relationship with Mr. Q quickly soured, because S’s constant anxieties made her selfish and demanding. She married Q because Q seemed to like her. Q had made himself a fool in courting her, and this made S have secret contempt for him. She did not love him, but she viewed him as a “safe” choice precisely because of his supposed “weakness” (i.e. romantic interest, which S, in her fear, could only regard as weakness).

After a year or so of marriage, S stopped talking to Mr. Q except to yell at him about some practical matter that she was desperately worried about, or to bore him with the constant litanies of her fears. S was so worried about everything that she refused to get a job, terrified of the humiliating consequences of trying and failing. “It’s a man’s world,” she’d say resignedly to Q, who was quickly becoming ruined and depressed by his marriage. “The woman’s place is to just stay in the house.”

“It isn’t as though you do anything around the house, however,” Q rejoined, made reckless by his depression. “You just sit in that dirty nightgown and read mystery novels.” Ms S was livid. She was self-righteous about her anxiety, and saw her fears in a moral light. “How can someone be so cruel,” she wondered. Eventually, her husband left her, and Ms. S gained even greater moral ground. She had a child by that point, Anton. As Anton grew up, he gradually assumed the role of his father: the one who is the victim of Ms. S’s fear and resentment of the world.

After one terrible scene, Ms. S’s mother came back. She made the woman see a psychologist who diagnosed her with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Generalised anxiety disorder is a condition in which people can’t stop worrying, to the point that fear comes to govern their lives. The psychologist referred Mrs. S to an excellent anxiety therapist, who was able to improve this poor woman’s attitudes towards the world with a combination of cognitive therapy and medication. Thanks to modern psychiatric practice, the story of Ms. S and her child ends well.

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