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Emma Stone Explains Why She Thinks Anxiety Can Be a ‘Selfish’ Condition

By Michael Feb 22, 2024
Emma Stone. Valerie MACON / AFP

Emma Stone has long been open about her battle with anxiety. The actress began experiencing panic attacks when she was 7 and has used everything from therapy to improv to manage the condition.

In an interview with Variety published on Wednesday, February 21, she opened up about anxiety in a slightly different way, calling it “selfish” because of how it forces sufferers to think of themselves.

“Part of the nature of anxiety is that you’re always watching yourself. In some ways — this is horrible to say — it’s a very selfish condition to have,” she explained. “Not to insult other people with anxiety — I still have it — but it’s because you’re thinking about yourself a lot. You’re thinking about, ‘What’s going to happen to me? What have I said? What have I done?’”

The statement came in response to a question about Bella Baxter, the character Stone portrays in the Oscar-nominated film Poor Things. “I wonder if there’s something about that character that you thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be super fantastic to just have no shame or not be concerned about what others are thinking?’” Variety asked.

Anne Hathaway, Kendall Jenner and More Stars Open Up About Anxiety

“Bella’s way of approaching the world, it’s just about experience,” Stone replied. “It’s just about how she feels about things.”

The context, as always, is important. Stone is not calling people who suffer from anxiety selfish, as she is one of those people herself. She’s even called herself lucky for having the condition.

Emma Stone. Chelsea Guglielmino/WireImage

“I think your wiring is just kind of what you are. My mom always says that I was born with my nerves outside of my body,” she told Elle in 2018. “But I’m lucky for the anxiety, because it also makes me high-energy.”

Emma Stone Through the Years

Stone later added that talking about anxiety has also brought her relief. She says it helped her “own it and realize that this is something that is part of me, but it’s not who I am.”

More than five years after that interview, Stone has continued to “own it.” In an interview with NPR earlier this month, she indicated that she can draw strength from her condition.

“I’ve told a lot of younger people that struggle with anxiety, that in many ways I see it as kind of a superpower,” she said. “Just because we might have a funny thing going on in our amygdala, and our fight-or-flight response is maybe a little bit out of whack in comparison to many people’s brain chemistry, it doesn’t make it wrong. It doesn’t make it bad.”

By Michael

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