The Book of Angst
Written by: Gwendoline Smith
Allen & Unwin
Reviewed by: Kerry Lee
From clinical psychologist, speaker, blogger, and best-selling author Gwendoline Smith comes The Book of Angst, written to help people recognise their anxieties and cope with them.
According to statistics, one in four New Zealanders will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. A frightening thought when you consider it can lead to more dangerous conditions – both physical and mental. Irritability, palpitations, and restlessness can be all caused by anxiety, and without help, they could cause bigger problems down the road. It’s something that has to be tackled sooner rather than later, and Smith’s latest work is definitely a step in the right direction.
Like her previous books, The Book of Knowing and The Book of Overthinking, The Book of Angst is something that anyone can pick up and read without needing a degree in psychology to understand it. I especially liked her down-to-earth sense of humour, how she explained things without all the psychological jargon, and the illustrations that helped get her ideas across. A favourite of mine was the chapter on social anxiety – also known as the fear of judgment – and the idea that it’s actually linked to our instinctive need to be included. As someone who’s had this particular phobia, it’s one that I was interested in.
As primates, the theory goes that as social animals, we all have an innate need to be liked, to be loved, and to feel included. Social anxiety comes from the fear of not being accepted or included by others. A person suffering from it may have been bullied or excluded from groups in the past, so they avoid groups or strangers to protect themselves, or as Smith puts it, to “avoid the anticipated pain of rejection, criticism, and exclusion.”
I cannot stress enough how important this book is. There really is no downside, and with everything that’s been going on with COVID-19 lately, this book is a literal must in anyone’s collection.