Top positive review
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a stimulating book that needs to be slowly read
on January 23, 2013
"Ophelia: Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." I read "Angst" both as a general reader and as a consultant in the field of work disabilities. I found Kahn's book to be unique and stimulating, particularly in helping me to understand human behavior in response to stressful events. It had never occurred to me that behavior after stressful events could be influenced by instincts, and that these instinctive influences are so pervasive among humans that we implicitly accept them as life conditions - even while mental health professionals may wish to label them with diagnoses and treat them. ("Angst" shifts rather too frequently for me between a general readership exposition and tactical advice to clinical psychiatrists, but for the psychiatric community this formula might work well.)
The title of the book is intriguing, As I understand Kahn, the struggle of consciousness, one of Kahn's six instincts, to guide us to counter-instinctive behavior gives rise to angst. The implication is that angst is more among us now than 500 or 5000 years ago. Part of angst, I infer, is a very troubling sense that we do not know ourselves - that our consciousness is engaged in a dark battle with our instincts. Consider Ophelia. Her rejection by Hamlet deprives her of a means of her expressing adult love for another. Her father's death voids her role as a caring daughter. Melancholic depression, Kahn's instinct that leads us to separate ourselves from the world, overcomes her. And she is conscious of how this fatal drive has utterly transformed her.
I give this book less than maximum stars because of the awkwardness of the exposition as the author shifts between audiences - general vs psychiatric.