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Reading: Hock 34-Relaxing Your Fears Away

by: Brianda Hickey

Reading: Hock 34-Relaxing Your Fears Away APSY.UE.0002

Marketplace > NYU School of Medicine > Psychlogy > APSY.UE.0002 > Reading Hock 34 Relaxing Your Fears Away
Brianda Hickey

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A detailed summary of Reading 34 within Forty Studies That Changed Psychology by Roger R. Hock. To find more information, reference the book. The underlined headings used correspond with those in t...
Adina Schick,
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brianda Hickey on Monday May 2, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to APSY.UE.0002 at NYU School of Medicine taught by Adina Schick, in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY AND ITS PRINCIPLES in Psychlogy at NYU School of Medicine.


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Date Created: 05/02/16
Reading: Hock 34-Relaxing Your Fears Away Systematic Desensitization: decreasing your level of anxiety or fear gently and gradually Neuroses: a group of psychological problems for which extreme anxiety is the central characteristic Usually called anxiety disorders The most common anxiety-related difficulties are phobias , panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder Researcher: Joseph Wolpe Primarily studied phobias Phobias: irrational fear Phobias are divided into three main types: Simple (or specific) phobias involve irrational fears of animals Social Phobias characterized by irrational fears about interactions with irrational fear of being in unfamiliar, open, or crowded spaces, typically developing as a result of panic attacks that have occurred in those areas Joseph Wolpe credited with perfecting systematic desensitization behavioral technique and applying it to the treatment of anxiety disorders behavioral approach not concerned with the unconscious sources of the problem or with repressed conflicts fundamental idea - you have learned an ineffective behavior (the phobia), and now you must unlearn it Theoretical Propositions Reciprocal Inhibition - when two responses inhibit each other, only one may exist at a given moment Wolpe believed: If a response inhibitory to anxiety can be made to occur in the presence of anxiety-provoking stimuli… the bond between these stimuli and the anxiety will be weakened the reason you have a phobia is that you learned it sometime in your life through the process of classical conditioning, learned it sometime in your life through the process of classical conditioning, by which some object became associated in your brain with intense fear To treat your phobia, you must experience a response that is inhibitory to fear or anxiety (relaxation) while in the present elf the feared situation a person cannot experience deep physical relaxation and fear at the same time Wolves’ article reports on 39 cases randomly selected out of 150 Each participant’s phobia was treated by the author using his systematic desensitization technique Method Someone who suffers from a phobia is taken through therapy that consists of relaxation training, construction of an anxiety hierarchy and desensitization Relaxation Training Therapist will focus on teaching you how to relax your body progressive muscle relaxation process involved renting and relaxing various groups of muscles throughout the body until a deep state of relaxation is achieved Relaxation training may take several sessions with the therapist until patient can create such a state on their own Should be able to practice the state of relaxation whenever / wherever Wolpe also incorporated hypnosis int o the treatment for most of his cases to ensure full relaxation hypnosis has since been shown to be unnecessary for effective therapy because usually full relaxation can be obtained without it Construction of an Anxiety Hierarchy The next step is for the client and the therapist to develop a list of anxiety-producing situation or scenes involving the phobia The list would begin with a situation only slightly uncomfortable and escalate to frightening scenes until reading the most anxiety-producing event Number of steps in hierarchy my baby from 5 or 6 to 20 or more Desensitization According to Wolpe, no direct contact with the fear situation is necessary to reduce the sensitivity to them The same effect may be created through descriptions and visualizations First Client is instructed to place themselves in a state of deep relaxation as they have been taught Second The therapist behind with the first steps in their hierarchy and described the scene to them Patient’s job is to imagine the scene while remaining completely relaxed if successful, therapist will continue to next step If at any point, patient feels anxiety - they are to raise index finger the presentation of hierarchy will stop until patient is returned to full relaxation Then, the descriptions will begin again from a point further down the list while patient maintains relaxed state Process continues until patient is able to remain relaxed through the entire hierarchy might repeat process several times in subsequent therapy sessions In Wolpe’s work - some people recovered in 6 sessions, another person took nearly a hundred Average amount of sessions: 12 Results success of therapy was judged by the patients’ own reports and by occasional direct observation Desensitization process was rated as either: completely successful Freedom from phobic reactions Partially successful Phobic reaction of 20% or less of original strength Unsuccessful For 39 cases- total of 68 phobias were treated success rate = 91% unsuccessful = 6% most of the unsuccessful cases display special problems that did not allow for proper desensitization to take place, such as an inability to imagine the situations presented int he hierarchy Critics: Freudians: methods were only treating the symptoms and not the underlying causes of the anxiety believed new symptoms were bound to crop up to replace the ones treated in this way Wolpes response: obtained follow-up reports at various times over a 4-year period after treatment from 25 of the 35 patients who had received successful desensitization “There was no reported instance of relapse or new phobias or other neurotic symptoms. I have never observed resurgence of neurotic anxiety when desensitization has been complete or virtually so" Discussion Desensitization method offered several advantages over traditional psychoanalysis 1. The goals of psychotherapy can be clearly stated in every case 2. Sources of anxiety can be clearly and quickly defined 3. Changes int he patient’s reaction during descriptions of scenes from the hierarchy can be measured during the sessions 4. Therapy can be performed with others present 5. Therapists can be interchanged if desired or necessary Subsequent Research and Recent Applications Systematic desensitization is now the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders, especially phobias A study by Paul treated college students who suffered from extreme phobic anxiety in public- speaking situations First, all participants where asked to give a short, as-libbed speech to an unfamiliar audience degree of anxiety measured by observer’s ratings, physiological measures, and a self-report questionnaire Students randomly assigned to three treatment gorups 1. systematic desensitization 2. insight therapy (similar to psychoanalysis) 3. no treatment (control) treatment was carried out in 5 sessions, then all participants were placed in the same public-speaking situation and same measures were taken A systematic desensitization was significantly more effective in reducing anxiety on all measures In a 2 year follow up, 85% of the desensitization group still showed significant improvement, compared with only 50% of the insight group Wolves’ application of classical conditioning concepts to the treatment of psychological disorders has become part of intervention strategies in a wide range of settings Ex. Fredrickson study relied in part on Wolpe’s concept of reciprocal inhibition in developing a new treatment strategy for difficulties stemming primarily from negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, aggression, and stress-related health problems Frerickson proposes assisting and teaching patients with such psychological problems to generate more and stronger positive emotions - directly inhibiting negative thinking Zettle studied the effectiveness of systematic desensitization for math phobia participants were given instructions on progressive muscle relaxation and a tape to use to practice relaxing each day at home Each student created a 11-item math fear hierarchy then it was presented as discussed before (Wolpe) At the end of the treatment 11 out of 12 students displayed recovery or improvement in their levels of math anxiety clinically significant reductions of anxiety were maintained during 2 months of follow-up


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