about the interconnectedness of emotions and cognitions. There are
researchers who doubt that fears and anxiety are produced by
cognitions alone and that fearful emotions can be reduced by only
changing our thinking. Thoughts, emotions, and actions are so
intertwined that possibly you can't change one without modifying the
others, but there is no guarantee that changing one, say your thinking,
will always change another part, such as your fears (Beidel & Turner,
1986). For self-help, you'll need to use all the methods--cognitive,
emotional, and behavioral.
Next we turn to a much older and more complex theory explaining
anxiety. It is partly cognitive too; it involves very intricate mental
processes, including coping and moral judgments. But, it also
recognizes innate biological drives, strong emotions, and unconscious
mental processes. No one can thoroughly explore and understand
human behavior, especially anxiety, or their own psyche without
knowing a little about Freudian theories.
Freud was an acute observer. However, at times he seemed to
have weird ideas, so much so he was ridiculed by his peers. But when
his ideas are thoroughly understood, they often do not seem so odd.
For example, he thought that we experienced "birth trauma" as we
were painfully and abruptly squeezed from our warm, safe, dark, quiet
place in mother's womb into a cold, demanding, changing, confusing,
dangerous world. Weird? Maybe. Maybe not; new newborns are much
more aware than we once thought they were. Freud felt birth was our
first stressful experience and that it influenced later experiences, like
when we were traumatized by mother leaving us for a few hours at
age 10-months or being terrified at age 3 when we thought we were
lost in a store. Surely earlier experiences affect later ones; our feelings
of helplessness, of "something awful is happening," of overwhelming
fear could be traced, in part, back to birth.
As the first psychotherapist, starting over 100 years ago, Freud
treated many patients with fears and anxiety reactions. He wondered
how these emotions could be explained. His explanation started with
an infant innately driven by its "id" to eat (from mother's breast), to
eliminate, to be comfortable, to be held and loved, and to be touched
and have sensual stimulation. If those needs were not met, the child
experienced anxiety (a mild form of the first stress--the birth trauma).
To meet sexual (love) and death (aggression) needs and to relieve the
anxiety, a part of the id develops into a second part of the child's