top of page

The Object of Anxiety

The Letter, Issue 64, Spring 2017, Pages 47 - 53


Guy Le Gaufey

I will tackle the question of anxiety from a semiotic viewpoint in so far as Freud, in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, presents this affect as a sign the ego sends to himself when he faces a certain danger, mostly internal and instinctual. In the face of this kind of danger, a helpful ‘object’, the mother, is supposed to have regulated the situation previously. Now, she is no longer in sight and available, so that the child is overwhelmed with a feeling of ‘helplessness’. This occurs almost mathematically in Freud’s writing: take the ‘helpful’ away and you get the ‘helpless’.

That is why Freud characterises anxiety by considering the infant longing for this helpful object. He writes:

Anxiety [is] about something (Die Angst ist Angst vor etwas). It has a quality of indefiniteness [Unbestimmtheit] and lack of object [Objektlosigkeit]….

Its connection with expectation belongs to the danger-situation, whereas its indefiniteness and lack of object belong to the traumatic situation of helplessness (Hilflosigkeit) - the situation which is anticipated in the danger-situation.[1]

Want to read more?

Subscribe to to keep reading this exclusive post.

Related Posts

See All

On Anxiety and its Symptom(s)

Taking Freud’s 1926 paper Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety as a major reference, Lacan teases out the distinctions between these three...

Issue 64: Editorial

A crucial part of the work of the School of Psychotherapy in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin is to represent the contribution...


Kommentare konnten nicht geladen werden
Es gab ein technisches Problem. Verbinde dich erneut oder aktualisiere die Seite.
bottom of page