THE founder of a worldwide programme for people with anxiety was just 13 years old when he told his mum he wanted to die.

Charles Linden, founder of the Linden Method – what he calls “a cure for the incurable” – knows better than most what it means to be enslaved by fear but also sees himself as living proof that its fetters can be broken.

He was on his way to school when he told his mum, a nurse, the words any parent would dread to hear – “I just want to die”.

Mr Linden, now a 44-year-old father of two, said: “She turned the car around and took me straight to the doctor. She recognised the signs of someone who wasn’t thinking straight and the doctor gave me some old-school anti-depressants. I can’t say they helped at all.”

Mr Linden began suffering anxiety when he was just five and experienced recurring, threatening dreams, one about being chewed up by a giant mangle.

Mr Linden, who in the past has been housebound by his anxiety, said: “When I was very small, I had this constant sense of fear, particularly in relation to separation. I didn’t like being away from my parents or grandparents or my home. When I went to scout camp at the age of about seven I became quite ill and my parents had to collect me. All the way through school I had chronic separation anxiety and I would end up in the matron’s office, crying. I would have panic attacks. My heart would be racing. I felt awful. I would get morbid thoughts about people dying.”

Mr Linden, a former TV producer and director, sees anxiety as closely linked to creativity. Many of the people he helps are talented or famous people from creative families including Jodie and Jemma Kidd, Plum Sykes, Will Young’s brother Rupert. There are others, he says, famous people from the world of music and sport, even Hollywood A-listers whom he cannot name who have attended his anxiety recovery retreats or used his home learning programme. He has helped people from all over the world including the USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Norway and the UK.

In fact 45 per cent of new clients are American or Canadian but he takes private patients and NHS referrals.

Mr Linden knows what it’s like to battle obsessive compulsive behaviour as he suffered chronic anxiety into adulthood and also “pure obsession”, intrusive and inappropriate thoughts which can be connected to violence, sexuality and religion. An example would be the fear of a loved one being the victim of violence or the sufferer’s thoughts may turn towards thoughts of hurting themselves or other people.

Mr Linden disputes the idea he says has been put forward by medical professionals that anxiety is caused by mental illness, arguing that at its root is the “emotion of fear”.

He is slightly reluctant to discuss the finer detail of the programme itself, perhaps because some of his ideas have been misunderstood in the past, but some of the key parts hinge around reassurance, knowledge, structure and support.

One of the key techniques is to train the person’s mind to know that they are safe, which then “turns off fear”.

Anxious thoughts are directly linked to our daily routines and the Linden Method is about reprogramming the brain, diverting people’s energies away from their anxiety. This can be achieved during an anxiety recovery retreat at The Elms in Abberley and Brockencote Hall in Chaddesley Corbett. There are a choice of two or four-day retreats. Home learning is also available via CDs and DVDs and people who go on the retreats receive 12 months of support.

He said: “It stops the person from developing an anxiety condition again. I call it a firewall – it’s like anti-virus software installed on your brain.”

But Mr Linden would also see himself as living proof that there is an end to anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder because the first person he cured was himself and since then he says he has gone on to help thousands of people who suffer from anxiety.

Mr Linden says there was what he calls a eureka moment at the age of 27 when he had a panic attack in bed and realised that when he was being creative his anxiety was at a low ebb. That was when he first made the link between the two. Mr Linden also disagreed with doctors and psychologists that people with anxiety could not make a full recovery.

He said: “If I can get to people with anxiety, I know I can cure them. We have already helped about 80,000 people.”

He began to formulate his techniques into a PDF document which he began to fine-tune until it became a career in which he sought to help others with anxiety to “reprogramme their brains”.


A YOUNG man who suffered from health anxiety believed he was dying of cancer but says he no longer suffers panic attacks thanks to a Linden anxiety retreat.

Andrew Reynolds, aged 26, who lives in Worcestershire, said he suffered panic attacks for just over eight years. He attended the Priory centres in Birmingham and London but said while he felt better for a while, his anxiety returned.

The anxiety had strong and overpowering symptoms including numbness down the left side, blurred vision in his left eye, sweats, a tight chest, dizziness and very strong mood swings.

Mr Reynolds said: “I thought I had cancer. I thought the headaches meant I had a brain tumour.”

He has had two MRI scans, one CT scan and five X-rays on various parts of his body.

“I knew all the staff at Worcestershire Royal Hospital by their first and second names. I have been at the hospital 90-odd times since 2005. I didn’t want to be too far from a hospital. I was going to hospitals and doctors to seek reassurance.”

He would search his symptoms on the internet, which only served to fuel his fears, and Mr Reynolds advises people with similar anxieties not to do the same.

His anxiety may be linked in part to a 20ft fall at work in 2005 when he broke a few ribs. He was just 18 at the time and the anxiety he suffered afterwards made it hard for him to concentrate at work.

He attended a four-day retreat at The Elms in Abberley where he took part in structured activities including yoga, pilates and breathing exercises.

“When you walk in, there’s 15 other people all suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. That on its own gives you a lot of reassurance that you’re not suffering this on your own. With Charles’s method I felt I was going forward. You’re not thinking about past things. I haven’t had a panic attack since. I have also been very lucky because all this is on my doorstep. This is the best money I’ve ever spent. It has changed my life. It changes your way of thinking. Medication is a shield.

It’s not the root of the problem. It’s a cover-up for the problem.”

Mr Reynolds also said he felt supported afterwards with 12 months of contact via phone and e-mail if he had concerns.