Edvard Munch's "The Scream" classically depicts the internal anguish of an anxious individual.

According to Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonym, Vigilius Haufniensis, “anxiety is freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility”. Now, I must give a preliminary definition of these terms as Haufniensis, in The Concept of Anxiety published in 1844, made his exposition on the phenomenon of anxiety a very complicated one in terms of the ambiguity and circularity of his usage of the concepts such as freedom, possibility, the nothing, actuality, and in the totality of it all, anxiety. So, freedom, he says, is sleeping; he means to say that it is not actualised, that it  is a projection or spirit which is not fleshed or materialised, but since it is in a state of slumber it has the possibility of being awaken and becoming. Since it is a projection, it is also nothing since it has not happened yet, but nothing is not entirely nothing as it is a possibility for something, and in this case freedom is both nothing and a possibility. This is where anxiety makes its appearance, that whenever the face of freedom surfaces anxiety works itself and entangles freedom in itself.

Anxiety appears out of nothing, and nothing is possibility. Anxiety is equivalent to possibility as possibility refers to freedom. Whenever there is possibility (i.e. the possibility of having different options to become whatever one might be) there is anxiety. However, this poses another difficulty for the are infinitesimal choices or decisions to be made but we are in the realm of finitude, this means that among the many choices we may have there is little time and only a few to be actualised which makes each of our decisions even more significant because it is always directed in the future and it would tell us what we would be as if it is already an immediate past. Take for example Hamlet’s to be or not to be enquiry, it is a classic either/or situation and poses an existential dilemma which naturally involves a choice.

Essentially anxiety, angst, dread, anguish or the agony of choice is experienced when there is just too much of possibilities and so little time. With our situation today, it is impossible to deny that anxiety is the primary mood of each of us, since wherever we turn our heads to we see different yet similar choices. This ranges from the brands of clothing, foods, housing to career goals to the brands of smartphones and internet providers to choose from and even to the simple event of watching which film or  which book to read. All of this makes anxiety a debilitating experience because at the end of the day we have a deadline and we internally scream our heads off because of the pressure.


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