The dizziness of freedom

Further musings on Fear & Anxiety 

The Concept of Anxiety according to Kierkegaard:

anxiety/dread/angst is unfocused fear

Kierkegaard uses the example of a man standing on the edge of a tall building or cliff. When the man looks over the edge, he experiences a focused fear of falling, but at the same time, the man feels a terrifying impulse to throw himself intentionally off the edge. That experience is anxiety or dread because of our complete freedom to choose to either throw oneself off or to stay put.

The anxious person stands at the crossroads and wonders which way to go.The mere fact that one has the possibility and freedom to do something, even the most terrifying of possibilities, triggers immense feelings of anxiety. Kierkegaard called this our “dizziness of freedom.”


Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (b. 1813, d. 1855) was a profound and prolific writer in the Danish “golden age” of intellectual and artistic activity. His work crosses the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, devotional literature and fiction.


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