Signal anxiety was a term introduced by Sigmund Freud in the context of his revision of the Theory of Anxiety (Freud, 1929) to designate a subsconscious internal response activated by the ego to protect onself from being overwhelmed by threatening internal stimuli (e.g., thoughts/images entering into one’s conscious level of awareness stemming from an earlier traumatic event or situation). The activation of signal anxiety may result in the onset of other anxiety neuroses (e.g., panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder) that consume enormous psychological resources and function to „protect“ the individual from re-experiencing the original traumamatic situation and its accompanying effects.

Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.

Mervin Smucker