Monday April 20th, 2009

Michael Friedmann: Book Review of “Angst” by “Grün”

Today is the day the book “Angst” by our IF blog author Klaus-Jürgen Grün goes public. Consequently, here comes the top up-to-date book review by Michael Friedmann, who read the book

Angst – Vom Nutzen eines gefürchteten Gefühls

(“Anxiety – About the Usefulness of a Feared Emotion”)

by Klaus-Jürgen Grün, (Aufbau-Verlag Berlin 2009, 314 pages, 19.95 Euro) in advance. Here is what he thinks about the book.


The crisis confirms Grün’s thesis: as soon as we are driven by anxiety, we can no longer focus on the true dangers. What is much worse, we pay a huge amount of money for getting rid of this anxiety. In doing so, we create fear of fear and disable innovative and active potential. As we flee from anxiety, we run into dangers nobody had even thought of.

The profoundly written textbook by the philosopher and trainer of managers and leaders is not a guidebook. It is a book of enlightenment. It pays tribute to the self-elected duty not to crumble from fear of breaking taboos or violating political correctness. Instead, it wants to speak out about what many wish to keep camouflaged. Anxiety, however, will only disappear if we manage to counter the aversion promoted by it.

Otherwise, anxiety will grip you in many places, just like the tentacles of an octopus, in order to get nourishment. The author’s wish is that people should not be gripped by these tentacles. For Grün, the fact that middlemen have always thrived on the exploitation of fear is less reason for grudge than for criticism of character development in the parties concerned. If you reduce your susceptibility for anxiety and practice the right kind of fear, then you will be best equipped for improved happiness in life. The only time anxiety is useful is when it sharpens our senses for a short time through stage fright or the like. In the long run, however, it is similar to stress. It destroys the organism – both socially and organically.

Instead of heightening anxiety, we should learn fear. Because the organism understands fear as a natural reaction to a real danger. If you have learned fear, you are capable of managing life and being realistic. But if you follow the path led by anxiety, you will be ruled by surreal powers. Some people do everything in order to avoid the number 13; some people are concerned about the criminal court they have to face in the hereafter; some people convert spiders into fierce wolves and managers into “locusts”. Grün identifies these mechanisms as something that might, indeed, give an individual person piece of mind for some moments. In reality, however, these mechanisms are like the belief in miracles or magic. Where people nurture such a distorted image of reality, they will also never think twice about foul stocks or taboos and restraints.

In this respect, the concept of the author is based on human biology. After all, nature equipped people with a quickly reacting system of emotional powers that enabled them to survive in the original state. However, in a cultural environment, many natural dangers no longer exist. Still, homo sapiens retains the readiness to react to threats. With culture, the natural dangers people might have to face disappear. But now they see alleged threats and react more and more with neurotic anxiety. Thus, they often rush from one desire for anxiety to the next and are willing to let themselves be persuaded of fear of all kinds of things. If you are afraid of state bankruptcy today, you no longer need to nourish your anxiety of BSE, climate catastrophe or acid rain. And we can, indeed, see old anxieties disappearing as soon as the Germans are offered a new one.

The intense compulsion neurosis is known around the world as “German Angst“ – the tendency to warn against something a lot faster than the actual challenge manifests itself.

Grün even knows how to unmask the tendency towards self-diminution as megalomania in disguise. Its energy is rooted in anxiety: because even the most pathetic sinner will see himself as chosen by his God after having diminished himself into a nonentity. Especially this last step of uniting oneself with all the godless in a blood bath of nonentity driven by fear, this “ultima ratio” of anxiety through which martyrs and suicidal maniacs become indistinguishable today, should not be made impressive by allowing it verbal space in claiming that belief can move mountains. Even though Grün must probably be merited for discovering and explaining with conclusive examples the relevance of “moral anxieties”, I have to point out a small flaw of the book: this part of the book might have been dealt with in little less detail. I found it both a pleasure and a personal gain to read the book, which is why I would recommend that not just the cowards among us should read it.

Michael Friedmann

Many thanks to Michael Friedmann for his book review!

IF-Blog-Team (Translated by EG)

2 Kommentare zu “Michael Friedmann: Book Review of “Angst” by “Grün””

  1. hans-peter kühn (Tuesday April 28th, 2009)

    Herzlichen Dank für diese hervorragende Rezension. eigentlich wollte ich 5 Sterne geben aber irgendwie hat es leider nicht geklappt.

    Willkommen im reich der “Buchbesprecher”, ich freue mich bereits auf Ihren nächsten Beitrag. Das buch von Dr.Grün werde ich lesen.

    Hans-Peter Kühn

  2. IF-Blog » Blog Archiv » Angstwörter (Thursday May 21st, 2009)

    […] Er hat über den Verwendung von mit Angst besetzten Wörtern ausführlich in  seinem neuen Buch “Angst – Vom Nutzen eines gefürchteten Gefühls” geschrieben, gerade erschienen im […]

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