The aim of this dissertation is to critically engage with anxiety on a psychiatric level, to develop an understanding of its role as a symptom of mental ill-health as it compares with the Heideggerian concept of intrinsic meaning within anxiety, and to then proceed to a discussion of the potential for an amalgamated view that ultimately best serves the interests of the individual. Psychiatry often dismisses anxiety as a potentially dangerous and undesirable interruption of one’s everyday life; I shall demonstrate, through the philosophy of Heidegger, that this is precisely why it holds higher meaning and significance for Dasein, as an opening up of man’s inherent potentiality for authentic human existence. The final stage will be a direct comparison of the two approaches, examining the implications that they have for the future position of psychiatry in society, particularly in terms of individual self-awareness. What is the role of psychiatry now and is this the role that it should take? How does psychiatry’s neglect of the higher meaning in anxiety affect the doctor-patient relationship? Is there any aspect of anxiety that Heidegger’s theory in fact neglects? And most importantly, is there scope for a Heideggerian approach to mental health that incorporates both the ontological and the ontic experiences of Dasein in anxiety?
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