Amanda Seyfried says she was obsessive as a little girl: “I would have to be really organized—too organized. Things like straightening my room didn’t feel right to me; I’d have to redo it and redo it.”
She thinks, “that kind of anxiety in me, that obsession, was helpful. I use it in my acting. It’s something I don’t want to give up feeling, because it gives me an edge.”
[Allure magazine, September 2009.]
But maybe it’s a matter of how we label our feelings. Many talented actors or singers like Seyfried may want to keep an “edge” to feel they are working at their best.
A positive “edge” may be high energy, plus excitement mixed with some fear – but not really anxiety.
In her article Amanda Seyfried and Social Anxiety, Gloria Goodwin comments:
“It’s a strange thing how a lot of Hollywood actors and actresses can have self-esteem issues, just like normal people.
“We see these celebrities on TV and secretly wish that we looked almost as perfect as them. But then, who are we to blame them.
“These artists are just human too. And that means they also have issues with their weight, their look, and even with the silliest things.
“Being in the limelight as well as having the pressure to maintain an image can play a big role in anxiety disorders.
“Amanda Seyfried is among actors that suffers this type of disorder. She has admitted to getting therapy sessions to be able to handle panic anxiety attacks that’s been caused by her rise on fame. She says she especially gets these attacks whenever she has upcoming premiers or interviews.”
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There seems to be an enduring mythology about creative inspiration and performing – as an actor, for example – that it benefits from an “edge” of nervous tension or even anxiety.
For example, Nathan Fillion performed in high school musicals to beat shyness.
“I remember being on stage, and that stage fright, that excitement — I get a real high off of that,” he said.
But creativity coach and writer Eric Maisel, PhD comments in our interview Ten Zen Seconds (about his book) that this really is a false and distorting idea:
“It isn’t at all clear that tension or anxiety is what’s needed for peak performance and lifelong creativity.”
He says those feelings “may be unavoidable by-products of the difficulties that we face as we try to do large things and connected to our fear of failing, fear of making messes and mistakes, and so on, but they are not beneficial per se.
“You want enthusiasm, passion, love, curiosity, interest, and so on to inform your work and to exist right in the moment, in the performance moment or the creative moment, while at the same reducing (or eliminating) your fears, worries, anxieties, and so on.”
He adds, “Creating is not an energy-neutral state: it is a high energy state, with, at its healthiest, enthusiasm and not anxiety driving its engine.”
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Amanda Seyfried (pronounced “sigh-frid”) also admits she suffers from anxiety attacks.
“Like, the other day, I had an attack in the middle of a relaxing massage: My head was just spinning, and I felt nauseous! I was saying to myself, Just don’t make a scene! Finish this massage, or you’re going to be really annoyed with yourself.”
In his article Anxiety and Panic Attacks Can Strike Anyone!, Bertil Hjert notes that “millions of men and women struggle with anxiety or panic attack problems that affect their daily life. Some of the effects are small or simply inconveniences and some of the effects are more significant and life limiting. Anxiety is a real condition that can affect anyone.”