DSM5 – Pathological Personality Traits in Negative Affectivity
Anxiousness: intense feelings of nervousness and tenseness, often in reaction to interpersonal stresses.
As we move on to the second set of pathological personality traits, we come to anxiousness or anxiety. The first descriptor is – intense feelings of nervousness, tenseness, or panic, often in reaction to interpersonal stresses. Most of the research I could find dealt with anxiety in general. Within this, the idea of panic is often covered by panic disorder, so I think we can eliminate it here. That leaves us with nervousness or tenseness as a possible precursor to anxiety. To be considered as a trait, it has to be a general predisposition that affects our ability to deal with problem situations and makes it difficult to carry on normal relationships with others.
Seeing as there appears to be no direct research in these areas, let’s begin by understanding the definitions. Nervousness is described as being timid, apprehensive, agitated, easily excited or irritated, jumpy, appearing or acting unsteady, erratic, or irregular, marked by strength of thought, feeling, or style. It is a condition originating in, affected by, or related to the nerves composed of neurons. When we are dealing with the word tense or tenseness, it is described as being stretched tight, made taut, marked by strain or suspense, produced with the muscles involved in a relatively tense state.
I think we are beginning to get the picture. There seems to be two components here. First is the nervous system. Those are the sets of neural pathways that make up our mind states and our thought patterns. There appears to be a connection to an emotional response, probably the amygdala, which seems to be connected to our sympathetic system. In other words, we are constantly feeling fear and looking for perceiving possible threats; therefore, we are in a constant alert state. The second component seems to suggest that these thought patterns are leading to an aroused physical state throughout our whole body. These factors take a lot of energy and make it difficult for us to think clearly. This in turn can lead to problems dealing with others, especially those closest to us because we need them, but they also provide the greatest threat to our perceived sense of self.
So what does that mean as it relates to our daily lives? We have to take measure to balance our alert system. We have to moderate and regulate our response systems. We need to find ways to calm our minds and stay calm. We also need to find ways to keep our thoughts from activating our sympathetic system, and we have to find ways of regaining control of our system once it has been activated.