How is it that two people facing the same circumstances
can react so differently? Why are some folks buffeted（殴打）
by the vicissitudes （变迁）of life while others glide through
them with grace and calm? Are some of us just born more nervous
than others? And if you"re one of them, is there anything
you can do about it?
The key to these questions is the emotional response
we call anxiety. Unlike hunger or thirst, which build
and dissipate （驱散）in the immediate present, anxiety
is the sort of feeling that sneaks up on you from the day
after tomorrow. It"s supposed to keep you from feeling
too safe. Without it, few of us would survive.
All animals, especially the small, scurrying
kind, appear to feel anxiety. Humans have
felt it since the days they shared the planet
with saber-toothed tigers. (Notice which
species is still around to tell the tale.) But we
live in a particularly anxious age. The initial
shock of Sept. 11 has worn off, and the fear
has lifted, but millions of Americans continue
to share a kind of generalized mass anxiety.
A recent TIME/CNN poll found that eight
months after the event, nearly two-thirds of
Americans think about the terror attacks at
least several times a week. And it doesn"t
take much for all the old fears to come
rushing back. What was surprising about the
recent drumbeat of terror warnings was how
quickly it triggered the anxiety so many of us
thought we had put behind us.
This is one of the mysteries of anxiety.
While it is a normal response to physical
danger — and can be a useful tool for
focusing the mind when there"s a deadline
looming(海市蜃楼) — anxiety becomes a problem
when it persists too long beyond the
immediate threat. Sometimes there"s an
obvious cause, as with the shell-shocked
soldiers of World War I or the terror-scarred
civilians of the World Trade Center collapse. Other
times, we don"t know why we can"t stop worrying.
There is certainly a lot of anxiety going around. Anxiety
disorder —which is what health experts call any anxiety
that persists to the point that it interferes with one"s life —
is the most common mental illness in the U.S. In its various
forms, ranging from very specific phobias （(病态的)恐惧）
to generalized anxiety disorder, it afflicts 19 million Americans .
And yet, according to a survey published last January
by researchers from UCLA, less than 25% of Americans
with anxiety disorders receive any kind of treatment for
their condition. "If mental health is the stepchild of the
health-care system," says Jerilyn Ross, president of the Anxiety
Disorders Association of America, "then anxiety is the
stepchild of the stepchild."
Sigmund Freud was fascinated with anxiety and recognized
early on that there is more than one kind. He identified two
major forms of anxiety: one more biological in nature and
the other more dependent on psychological factors. Unfortunately,
his followers were so obsessed with his ideas about sex drives
and unresolved conflicts that studies of the physical basis
of anxiety languished.（衰弱）