American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety by Peter N. Stearns

By Peter N. Stearns

Americans became excessively anxious, and manipulation via worry has develop into an important challenge in American society, with actual impression on coverage. by utilizing information from 9-11, this e-book makes a particular contribution to the exploration of contemporary worry, but in addition by way of constructing a old point of view, the publication indicates how and why designated American fears have emerged over the last numerous many years.

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Some men, in fuller contrast, immediately rushed to sign up for military service (a phenomenon that recurred to a lesser extent in the days after September 11). Variety of response and its privacy were accompanied by a swift change in tone, often within a few hours. Bewilderment quickly yielded to a sense of anger and resolve, along with confidence in national strength. A Michigan man later described this reaction as he and his wife learned of the attack while on a Sunday drive: “There was an immediate concern, uncertainty, panic, a feeling that you needed somehow to seek a place where you’d be protected ….

But there was no need for anxiety. ” He was absolutely confident in the justice—he called it honesty—of the American cause. He knew it would be a long war. He admitted anxiety on only one point, what would happen to his children if we should lose the war. indb 28 8/22/06 11:59:12 AM The Distinctiveness of American Fear • 29 topic, ending by professing his absolute faith in President Roosevelt, even though he had always otherwise voted the Republican ticket. An intriguing interview. There is the one small link with September 11 responses, when the interviewer compelled attention to family reactions, but otherwise the contrasts are remarkable.

Americans who reacted to the events of September 11 with anger were more optimistic, certainly less fearful, than those who emphasized fear—and this was part of the division between men and women. All groups were profoundly influenced by media coverage, however, in their emotional responses, and this tended to privilege fear. Furthermore, while most individuals claimed to feel that they were personally less vulnerable to terrorism than average, they still saw a high personal risk of harm or death by terrorism—another prod toward fear and an interesting capacity to personalize responses— a point to which we will return.

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