A Portrait of a Lady can Help Relieve Anxiety

by Rachel Baker on September 27, 2013

Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, authors of The Novel Cure, recommend reading Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady to relieve feelings of anxiety.

Of the 14 causes of anxiety that we have identified,* the first chapter of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James can be expected to ameliorate 10. Opening as it does with a description of the civilized and serene institution of afternoon tea in an English country garden—complete with “mellow” late-afternoon light, long shadows, teacups held “for a long time close to [the] chin,” rugs, cushions, and books strewn on the lawn in the shade of the trees—its indirect invitation to slow down and have a cup yourself (helpful for causes 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 12, and certain elements of 13) is reinforced by James’s unhurried, elegant prose, a balm for anxiety arising from all of the preceding causes, and also serves to begin the complete eradication of anxiety arising from cause number 8.


Just so you are aware, we are posting the 14 causes of anxiety (according to the article here) here:
* (1) Trauma, including abuse, or death of a loved one; (2) relationship problems, either at home or work; (3) work/school; (4) finances; (5) natural disaster; (6) lack of oxygen at high altitude; (7) taking life too seriously; (8) gnawing feeling that you should have read more of the classics; (9) negative self-talk; (10) poor health/hypochondria; (11) taking too many drugs; (12) being late/too busy; (13) inadequate food, water, heat, or comfort; (14) threat of attack by wild animal/person.

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