Generalized anxiety disorder and online intelligence: a phenomenological account of why worrying is unhelpful

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Worrying is the central feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Many people worry from time to time, but in GAD the worrying is prolonged and difficult to control. Worrying is a specific way of coping with perceived threats and feared situations. Meanwhile, it is not considered to be a helpful coping strategy, and the phenomenological account developed in this paper aims to show why. It builds on several phenomenological notions and in particular on Michael Wheeler's application of these notions to artificial intelligence and the cognitive sciences. Wheeler emphasizes the value of 'online intelligence' as contrasted to 'offline intelligence'. I discuss and apply these concepts with respect to worrying as it occurs in GAD, suggesting that GAD patients overrate the value of detached contemplation (offline intelligence), while underrating their embodied-embedded adaptive skills (online intelligence). I argue that this phenomenological account does not only help explaining why worrying is used as a coping strategy, but also why cognitive behavioral therapy is successful in treating GAD. © 2011 Meynen; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7
JournalPhilosophy, ethics, and humanities in medicine : PEHM
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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