Speech Anxiety: Freud, Jung & Alder

Freud:
We are born naked and helpless.

Sigmund Freud on anxiety.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, placed great emphasis on the fact that we are born naked and helpless. From birth we experience panic and we express it in cries and in tears. As adults we may not express the panic directly by crying out loud or weeping in public, but we still feel this initial sense of dread when we have to "expose ourselves" before the eyes of others. Freud saw the level of anxiety to be a reversion to infantile behaviour.

Jung:
We assume our enemies--our listeners--are aware of our secret weakness.

Carl Jung on human frailty and public speaking fears.

Carl Jung, the analytical psychologist, noted that human beings display the characteristics of archetypal figures, especially heroes of Ancient Greece. The warrior hero Achilles is one such figure. Achilles was invulnerable to his enemies except for one part of his anatomy: his "Achilles heel." Except for this tendon, he was invulnerable and impervious to the attacks of his enemies. Achilles resembles the 20th-century comic-book character Superman, the caped superhero who is all-powerful except in the presence of Kryptonite, rocks from his home planet Krypton. Each of us has an Achilles heel or fears Kryptonite. It is our zone of vulnerability. According to Jung, we assume our enemies--our listeners--are aware of our secret weakness. They know we are vulnerable and hence we feel fear.

Adler:
We are powerless before powerful people.

Alfred Adler on why we fear public speaking.

Alfred Adler, the Austrian psychiatrist, made many contributions to individualistic and humanistic psychology. After examining the nature of neurosis, he popularized the concept of the "inferiority complex." It was Adler's view that, when we "present" ourselves before others, we stand "." We project our talents and abilities, our information and knowledge, onto other people. We empower them, but at the same time we disempower ourselves. We elevate them as we lower our sense of self. This projection leaves us feeling uneasy, uncanny, and vulnerable.


This is an exerpt from an article on Speech Anxiety by John Robert Colombo.


George Torok
Speech Coach for Executives
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