Author: Karen L. Lombardi Ph.D.
Attempts to understand and to remediate states of acute psychological anxiety have motivated both clinical and conceptual investigations of human psychic functioning since the time of Freud. Disagreements in the field, both
in the past and present, have taken the form of the nature-nurture controversy. That is, can the familial patterns observed in the expression of anxiety be best accounted for by theories of genomic transmission, or by theories which take into account the interpersonal field? And similarly, is anxiety instinctual in origin or object relational in origin? The way one thinks about these questions has very real implications, as it guides prognosis and treatment plans.The study of phobic and anxious states in childhood, as they first emerge developmentally, puts us closer to the origins of psychic anxiety. The intent of this chapter is to make a contribution to the integration of empirical and clinical data with theoretical understanding of the meaning of phobic and anxious states.