The New York Times

Panic Attack

THIS IS NOT A NATION THAT HAS EVER BEEN SHY ABOUT SELF-DIAGNOSING ITS OWN JITTERS. NOW THE CONDITION HAS BECOME POLITICAL.

In 1947, W.H. Auden published a very long poem that, despite winning a Pulitzer Prize, is now remembered less for its contents than for its title: “The Age of Anxiety.” Something about the idea that an age can be anxious must resonate deep in America’s cultural bones, because the phrase has been used to describe countless moments since, from the vogue for tranquilizers like Miltown and Valium in the ‘50s and ‘60s to the coronation of today’s young adults as, in The New York Post’s recent estimation, “The Anxious Generation.” At this point, it’s difficult to imagine a slice of time whose resident humans would not agree with the notion that their lives were more hectically modern — more anxiety-inducing, more in need of the occasional benzo — than any

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