Gwen was a good example of someone who had not allowed her anxiety, or possibly her excitement, to become part of her self-experience. Phobic towards her own response, Gwen was unable to experience herself as anxious and was thus unable to remain in any intimate encounter whose excitement or threatened loss of ego boundaries provoked the not-to-be tolerated emotion. As it turned out, Gwen thought that “it was wrong” for her to be anxious in a romantic situation such as this and that she should, instead, “be opening like a flower.” Her actual response confirmed a view of herself consistent with one she had developed in response to a critical and rejecting mother: that there was something wrong with her. The flaw, in her view, was the anxiety, which she experienced as a dangerous and threatening entity that could overwhelm and embarrass her, rather than as a temporary and contextual self-experience.
thoughts without a thinker
Mark Epstein, M.D. 1995