David Smail

Illusion and Reality

Illusion and Reality
The Meaning of Anxiety

Dent, 1984; Constable, 1997.
Published by Robinson, 2001, in the double-volume
Why Therapy Doesn't Work, along with Taking Care

This is the first in the series of works which, progressively, locates personal distress in the social world rather than simply inside the individual. More than the other works, this considers the phenomena of distress, in particular anxiety, from the standpoint of the individual's subjective experience.

Anxiety is a natural response to the reality which from time to time breaks through the comforting illusions we are encouraged to believe about our lives and our 'selves'. The experience of psychological distress is therefore not so much a mark of abnormality or illness as an indication that there are aspects of the sufferer's world which need attention.


1  The myth of normality
2  The reality of threat

3  Shyness and the self as object [Read this as sample chapter]
4  The domination of words
5  The language of anxiety
6  The magic of the machine
7  The experts
8  The possibility of undeception
9  The confrontation of reality

Schijn en werkelijkheid. De zin van de angst. Ambo, 1986.
Ångestens innebörd - myter och verklighet. Bonniers, 1986.
Illusion et réalité. La signification de l'anxiété. Aubier, 1990