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The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of studies examining anxiety in older populations. This research underscores how anxiety is not just an ancillary symptom of depression, but a clinical issue on its own. Not only does anxiety cause suffering in older adults, but anxious older adults also have more functional disability (Brenes et al., 2005) and a reduced quality of life (Wetherell et al., 2004) compared to non-anxious older adults. In conditions that are common in later life (i.e., poor physical health, depression), those older adults experiencing comorbid anxiety typically have greater disability compared to non-anxious adults with these conditions. Cognitive functioning and the presence of neurocognitive disorders are aspects of comorbidity that have garnered increasing research attention (Beaudreau & O’Hara, 2008). This exciting new research underscores the complexity of the relations between anxiety and cognitive functioning in older individuals.
In October 1990, the East German state (the German Democratic Republic – GDR) collapsed and its territory and people were absorbed by West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany – FRG), even though just months before almost no one had expected this to happen. Western troops did not fire a single shot; easterners were fleeing to the West. Yet, the strange fate of East Germany makes sense as part of Germany’s path through the modern world, which has been influenced strongly by external political and economic challenges. A precarious military-strategic position in Europe made it difficult for one German polity to rule over everyone who is in one way or another conceivably German. Even today, millions of German-speaking people and considerable territories that were formerly governed by German rulers remain outside of the unified state. Germany’s economic success as a middle-developer means that the country still has powerful influence beyond its own borders: in the wake of the recession of 2008–2010, other European governments called for more German assistance and cooperation even as they feared heavy-handed intervention and criticized Germany’s reluctance to provide more resources.
The challenges that Germans faced and their responses were characteristic of what happens when a major power takes a middle path through political and economic development. Germany was at a disadvantage with respect to the early developers. In politics, German rulers could not match France in establishing strong central authority over a vast territory. In economics, German industrial development lagged behind Britain’s. Along with these military and economic disadvantages, however, the rapid diffusion of new ideas into Germany offered certain opportunities. Germany’s newer bureaucracies skipped over incremental improvements to traditional practices and instead adopted only the latest and best organizational techniques. German industries, unimpeded by false starts, implemented advanced technology on a massive scale. In the struggle with the early developers, Germany developed powerful political institutions (a professional army and an authoritarian monarchy), mobilizing identities (ethnic conceptions of nation), and significant economic interests (heavy industry and labor-repressive agriculture), all of which imperiled liberalism and democracy.