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Book characters with anxiety disorders/chronic high anxiety

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May 15, 2011, 10:52pm Top

Do any of you know of any books about fictional characters with anxiety disorders? I am especially interested in male ones; these seem to be rare in fiction except for "It's Kind of a Funny Story" by Ned Vizzini, which was about a teenage (high school) guy who had anxiety and depression and checked himself into a mental health center. I really enjoyed that book, but do you know of any characters older than that, like aged 18 to 20's, maybe in a college setting, who have chronic high anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.? Friendship and dating could be some themes.

I know of many stories where they used a character's anxiety as a comic device (like "The Odd Couple"); however, I am wondering if there are any more books that use it as a serious subject but are told like "It's Kind of a Funny Story" where it's told in the first person and with humor through the narration, and with realistic situations that are both serious and humorous.


May 15, 2011, 11:08pm Top

I'm not sure I'd use the same clinical language you have, but William Maxwell's The Folded Leaf sounds like it might very well be what you're looking for.

Edited: May 15, 2011, 11:33pm Top

Thanks for your help! I'll check that one out sometime.

Does anyone know of any that are in a more contemporary setting, a coming-of-age story about a college-age guy who is interested in (friendships with and dating) women?

May 16, 2011, 12:10am Top

No problem.

Yet, a coming-of-age story about a college-age guy who is interested in (friendships with and dating) women actually describes well the second half of the novel. Don't believe the hype - it's not a gay coming of age story.

May 20, 2011, 4:12pm Top

I noticed it was first published in the 1940s. Are the themes pretty universal, so it wouldn't be too dated?

May 20, 2011, 6:34pm Top

I can't speak for all people and all generations, but anxiety disorders, and the way they relate to issues surrounding dating and friendship, seem pretty universal to me. If you were referring, however, to slang, fashion, politics and popular culture references, then yes, of course, it's dated - as would any novel either written or set in a society/time prior to our own. But I hope that doesn't dissuade you. Many of the best novels ever written address universal themes, while taking place in societies or times foreign to us.

It's an extremely well-written novel from a highly regarded novelist, and worth reading for that reason alone. But it sounds like you have a pretty specific use for the novel in mind - any clues or hints? It might help ascertain whether or not the novel is actually what you're looking for.

You might want to also consider The Sorrows of Young Werther, but if you're concerned about a novel set in the 1920s and 1930s being too dated, this classic might not fit your project.

May 20, 2011, 11:22pm Top

I did some looking online through Google Search and it seems like there are surprisingly few books where the main character is male and has some type of anxiety disorder (like generalized). I don't know why that is. I have found "I Don't Want to Be Crazy" by Samantha Schutz, but that was a memoir written by a woman in college who had (I think) panic attacks.

I liked "It's Kind of a Funny Story" a lot, but that was about a fifteen-year-old guy with depression and anxiety. But I'm looking for one about a character in college with some type of anxiety disorder (but not necessarily depression). It would be nice if it was written in a similar way to IKOAFS, with some humor in the way it's told and funny situations.

I'm trying to write a video story (and possibly a novelization and comic book adaptation) set in a college setting with a male character who is dealing with an anxiety disorder, and schoolwork, friendships and romantic relationships.

May 21, 2011, 12:53am Top

Woody Allen fan, eh?

May 21, 2011, 12:41pm Top

A Stranger on the Planet by Adam Schwartz, while it covers many stages of the main character's life, does have a substantial portion that deals with college and might be characterized as dealing with some of the issues that interest you. It was published this year.

May 21, 2011, 3:11pm Top

Non-fiction, but Allen Shawn's Wish I Could Be There is very readable.

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