philosopher & psychiatrist
Prof. Dr. Damiaan Denys is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Amsterdam and Head of Psychiatry at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. Of Flemish origin, he studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Leuven in Belgium. He received his PhD cum laude for his thesis, “On certainty. Studies in obsessive compulsive disorder”. He’s seen as an expert on anxiety, the topic of his TEDxAmsterdam talk on November 27 2015.
To Damiaan Denys anxiety represents the gateway to freedom. "The classical way to see anxiety is: without it, I am free. Actually it’s the other way around: because of anxiety, we experience freedom. You only experience a sense of freedom, on the verge of experiencing something new, by escaping your comfort zone. When we look our anxieties in the eye and work through them, instead of trying to avoid them. As long as you remain in your comfort zone, you won’t experience freedom because you live in the controlled world you’ve created. Freedom means being completely free to choose something new. That sensation only emerges when you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. As long as you turn it around, as long as you’re not afraid, you’ve actually never experienced freedom." - Damiaan Denys