Posted by: PharaohKatt | 08-02-2011

The Double-Bind of Anxiety

This is a story about something that happened to me while at a convention.

I saw a workshop listed about learning to curse, blaspheme and bless. Cool, I thought, I can add a whole new set of words to my vocabulary! Unfortunately, this is not what happened.

What I didn’t realise was that this was a performance-based workshop. We weren’t learning new words, or learning the origin or meaning of words (as I had hoped); instead we were saying phrases in certain ways while doing physical things which were supposed to “help” the words sound better. Things like walking, bouncing a ball, waving our arms.

The specifics are not important: suffice to say that the way she was getting us to do things was WRONG (more on this later).

What is important was that, not knowing it was performance based, I was not prepared. And so when it got down to it, anxiety started to kick in. Had I been sensible I would have left as soon as I found out, but that’s not the way anxiety works.

You see, the thought of walking out, of drawing attention to myself in that manner, was causing me more anxiety.

I mentioned before that the methods she used was wrong; the hand movements didn’t match the feel of the words. The emphasis was wrong. Saying the words in this way made them taste bad.

So there is was, full of anxiety because of the performing, wanting nothing more than to crawl into the nearest dark space and place my hands over my ears.

Except that the thought of leaving and thus drink attention to myself was making me feel even more anxious! Stay or go, I couldn’t win!

And to top it all off, she was making me do things and say words in a way that tasted bad and wrong.

This is the double-bind of anxiety.

– Pharaoh Signing Off



  1. Anxiety is very much a double-bind sometimes. Risk extra anxiety for withdrawing or risk extra for saying? Sometimes something gives but overall, it’s a very lose-lose situation. :/ I’m sorry you experienced that.

    I also wanted to say hi! I discovered your blog today, and I read back to about midway through 2010. You write awesome, thought-provoking articles, and just thought I’d drop in to say so.


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