Heilmittel gegen die Angst
As fundamentally different the worlds of these thinkers appear to be, both were engaged in the topic of anxiety in a distinct and comparable way. They developed concepts, as to how it is possible to overcome this emotion. Reason plays a particular role in both systems of thought.
Until now, no research connecting both thinkers has been conducted – despite Hellenism being regarded as the epoch of the psychologisation of philosophy.
The Age of Antiquity philosopher, along with Sigmund Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis, responded with their therapy drafts to the needs of their time: the epochs are marked by great uncertainty and fundamental change – both Hellenism and early modernity. Consequently, in Hellenism and early modernity, anxiety is a widespread and powerful feeling, and is hence dealt with in various theories.
On this basis, Epicurus and Sigmund Freud developed their forms of therapy, with the key to eliminate anxiety through an epistemic process. Anxiety – both thinkers assume – is underlain by a harmful content of consciousness, which must be revealed in the therapy.
Central questions are as follows: Is it possible to overcome anxiety according to the concepts of Epicurus and Sigmund Freud? What role does reason play within the therapies and how can this role be evaluated? Is an anxiety-free and happy conduct of life a conceivable prospect?
Both therapies – the “fourfold remedy” of Epicurus and the Freudian psychoanalysis – are based on a rational screening of the frightening state. Both do not tackle the feeling of anxiety directly, but search for the content of consciousness behind which triggered the affect: Be it a presumed ill-intentioned force whose verdict is feared or a suppressed desire which leads to a torturous eruption in a neurosis. And yet rationality isn’t an opponent of the emotions, but closely entangled.
If the patient can understand this pathogenic mechanism within himself, it is this very epistemic process that induces the cure.