Updates from Ricky Lindén

My old degree thesis about anxiety and self-harm


Back in 2016 I finished what I remember being one of the highlights during my bachelor studies - writing my degree thesis. The days in the library in where Taik (Arabia in Helsinki) used to be at the time. Decoding a bunch of philosophy books, go out for a walk after copying quote after quote after quote. I was very happy with the finished thesis at the time, but quite quickly this verdict faded. I felt I slightly missed the mark.

It was a photo project where I got self-harmers who wanted to quit (or had quit) self-harming send me letters on why they had started self-harming and why they wanted to quit. They also send me their old razors. The idea being they were done with it and this was kind of a ''memorial'' for what they had been through. I analyzed anxiety based on the project using works from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Bergman and Knausgård and Aristotle... with the angle if creativity - to get to tell their story - could be a potential ''cure'' in some cases.

So way too broad, typical of the youth.

However, when I happened to see the thesis in my bookshelf this year, when more than five years had passed since I wrote it, I reread it and besides the fact that I should've focused maybe solely on Kierkegaard's analysis on anxiety and really gone way deeper into that path. I find, especially the first half of the work to build (for my tender age of 24 at the time) a fascinating web of quotes. Especially the Kierkegaard quotes in the Anxiety chapter, how it gets spun into Åkerman's personal insights in self harm as well as the slight detours into Sartre, Bergman, Star Wars... There is something worthwhile there.

It was also very unexpected how it had such a religious tone. I did not plan this (there's even a chapter on the heritage of God and sin). Even though I perhaps too strongly followed Villy Sörensens emphasis that Kierkegaard's focus on how sin was the cause of anxiety in ''modern terms'' could be translated as a lack of the individual being their authentic self. In retrospect I would maybe put a higher emphasis on the word sin being viewed as a word which captures the practical consequence of at some level in one's life having for some reason, not been able to take a long term sustainable path. Being able to solve this reason is a key I did not mention enough in retrospect.

Anyway, the idea of the thesis, its quote selection and honest letters makes it fascinating. Because of this, I decided to upload it on my website. The abstract is available in both English and Finnish, but the whole work is written in Swedish.

Check it out on my site directly or download the pdf.

(Additionally, another mistake was never doing the photo exhibition for the project. I got three letters form post self-harmers. Very captivating to read those letters. Eight more letters would've made quite an exhibition!)