Our Human Condition Anxiety Sin Despair and Becoming a Self before

In his journals of 1842 Kierkegaard writes: 'The nature of original sin has often been explained, and still a primary category has been lacking—it is anxiety (Angst); this is the essential determinant' (JP i. 94). The analysis of anxiety as the psychological precondition of original or hereditary sin (Arvesynd)1 in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) is one of Kierkegaard's most original and most notable contributions to Christian thought.2 It has also played a groundbreaking role in the development of existentialist philosophy, literature, and psychology.3 Equally as profound, if not more so, in its psychological insight into the nature of sin is his analysis of despair in The Sickness unto Death (1849) as constituting a universal sickness of the human self in relation to itself and to God. In this chapter I shall focus on the twin psychological concepts of anxiety and despair and the ways these phenomena are probed by their pseudonymous 'authors' to illumine the psychological depths of the Christian doctrine of sin and the notion of authentic human selfhood in Kierkegaard's theological anthropology.4

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