Anxiety vs. Fear

At my study group the other day, a colleague suggested that fear is a response to the known or the actual, while anxiety is negative anticipation of the unknown or the unreal. I’m not sure I agree that there is such a distinct difference. This topic also came up on a friend’s blog, and I’m stealing here from my response to her post. She paraphrased Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, specifically a conversation Nafisi had with her “magician.”

I wrote: “You write that fear is seldom rational, but really it never is. It is inherently non-reasoned. It comes up from our deepest places, our oldest experiences. It says that the way we understand the world is threatened; it says that we are losing control of what matters to us. It lays the blame for that loss at the feet of others. And although it is non-reasoned, it makes a certain sense. I understand the magician’s perspective; fear is not ridiculous, rather it is organic. It grows out of who we are. But when it limits us, or rules us, when it empowers us to act against others, it is the most powerful of weapons of mass destruction.”