A hundred years ago: A somatic cause for anxiety. Practitioner November/December 2021;265(1853):30

100 years ago: A somatic cause for anxiety

21 Dec 2021Registered users

Morbid anxiety, like true anxiety, is often a defence mechanism, for if a patient ignores the warning of his phobia, he would soon find himself in a much worse mental state as a result of his temerity. So may an organically determined anxiety-state act as a defensive measure. A painter and decorator, 55 years of age, had been troubled for six months by a phobia of ascending ladders, the mere thought of having to do so brought on an acute anxiety-state. His occupation suggested a reason: paint; so arteriosclerosis due to the lead in paint, so giddiness. The suspicion was justified, for he was found to have markedly thickened and tortuous arteries. He admitted that for two years past he had been subject to transitory attacks of giddiness, especially as might be expected, after the effort of climbing a ladder and had several times feared that he might fall from the scaffolding. It would appear that the phobia prevented him from putting himself in a position of danger.

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