Transforming and Managing Anxiety: I. The Nature of Containment
In a previous essay, I have identified the multiple challenges that face us in the mid-21st Century. I have also noted the nature of anxiety that is generated by these challenges and the processes engaged to transform (metabolize) this anxiety and allow members of a society to manage and often even reduce the anxiety. This is being done so that the challenges can be addressed in a successful manner. While all of this makes sense in a straightforward manner, the process of metabolism is not easy to engage.
Throughout this series of essays on the nature of true freedom I have identified ways in which metabolism can be derailed and true freedom can be derailed. In this essay, I look specifically at this derailment into authoritarianism and at the multiple ways in which this derailment can be avoided—in favor of the construction and engagement of a wide variety of containers that enable the transformation to take place. It is in the identification of viable containers that we begin to find the pathway toward true freedom.
Authoritarian Settings for Metabolism
The fundamental question is: how then do we metabolize? How do we move as Bion (1995) suggests from alpha to beta? Put in a different framework, what do we do with the charging (though imaginary) lions. The typical response is to fight back. We want to tell off our bulling boss, and let that regulatory agency know what we really think of them and their stupid bureaucratic ways. This is a primitive (and often ineffective and even counter-productive) way in which to manage stress. It might provide a temporary release for our accumulated adrenaline, but this release is only temporary. We soon find that other lions are attacking us or the same lion is still attacking (often with greater strength and resolve).