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A comprehensive and accessible exploration of anxiety, from a leading neuroscientist and the author of Synaptic Self.

Collectively, anxiety disorders are our most prevalent psychiatric problem, affecting about forty million adults in the United States. In Anxious, Joseph LeDoux, whose NYU lab has been at the forefront of research efforts to understand and treat fear and anxiety, explains the range of these disorders, their origins, and discoveries that can restore sufferers to normalcy. LeDoux’s groundbreaking premise is that we’ve been thinking about fear and anxiety in the wrong way. These are not innate states waiting to be unleashed from the brain, but experiences that we assemble cognitively. Treatment of these problems must address both their conscious manifestations and underlying non-conscious processes. While knowledge about how the brain works will help us discover new drugs, LeDoux argues that the greatest breakthroughs may come from using brain research to help reshape psychotherapy. A major work on our most pressing mental health issue, Anxious explains the science behind fear and anxiety disorders.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wonderfully erudite, informative, and splendidly well written. Helps to explain and prevent the kinds of debilitating anxieties all of us face in this increasingly stressful world. Any author who can weave Leonard Bernstein, W. H. Auden, The Rolling Stones, and Alfred E. Neuman into a single illustrative example is on my short list for favorite writers ever.”

    Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind and This Is Your Brain on Music

  • “Joseph LeDoux [is] the William James of our era…This marvelous book is science at its best. It traces the evolution of a key set of scientific insights based on progressively better empirical data, most of these derived from LeDoux’s brilliant studies, and applies these new insights to a family of clinically important phenomenon. Anxious is an absolute must read for clinicians and basic scientists as well as for anyone else interested in anxiety and its disorders.”

    Eric R. Kandel, Columbia University; recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

  • “An exquisite and unique attempt to truly relate how neural cells lead to felt conscious states in the human mind—the toughest problem in all of science. LeDoux has thrown down the gauntlet and set the standard. I wish all of us working on the problem luck trying to beat this analysis.”

    Michael Gazzaniga, author of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain

  • “In this tour de force, LeDoux artfully guides the reader from the unconscious defensive system, through attention and memory, to the conscious experience of fear and anxiety. His traverse from the unconscious to the conscious experience of emotion is rich in scientific detail and yet exquisitely readable. LeDoux completes his masterpiece with provocative discussions of therapies for anxiety. This book is a fascinating revelation of the evolution in LeDoux’s own scientific thinking and in the field at large and is a must read for any student of learning, memory or emotion.”

    Michelle G. Craske, PhD, professor of psychology and director, Anxiety Disorders Research Center, UCLA

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About the Author

Joseph LeDoux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at New York University, where he is a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology. He directs the Emotional Brain Institute at New York University and at the Nathan Kline Institute, and is the author of Synaptic Self and The Emotional Brain. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, LeDoux lives in Brooklyn, New York.