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PSYCH 2AP3 (472)

Anxiety Disorders

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McMaster University
Richard B Day

Anxiety Disorders ● Specific Phobias - Etiology ○ psychodynamic view: ■ phobic objects: symbols of inner conflict ● anxiety producing unconscious desire ■ combination of two defense mechanisms ● displacement ● reaction formation ■ symptom substitution: the idea that if we treat certain symptoms, something else will come back and replace it ● Last et al(1996): 30-60% of youths treated for anxiety disorder develop another within 3-4 years ○ Behavioural view: the symptoms are the problem and there is no underlying psychodynamic conflict or dilemma involved ■ phobic objects = conditioned stimulus for learned fear ● generalization to similar stimuli: fear of a certain snake can be broadened to anything remotely similar to it ■ Why limited range of phobic objects? ● evolutionary/genetic predisposition: very easy to be conditioned to fear these objects ● faster GSR conditioning, slower extinction to ‘prepared’ conditioned stimuli (snakes, spiders) ● quicker to associate pain or fear with snakes or spiders compared to flowers or other minimal things ○ Behavioral Treatments for Phobias ■ flooding (implosive therapy): forces contact with the feared object repeatedly with no dangerous events ● based on extinction via CS-alone presentations ● want to assess the level of fear for the rats ● would see how comfortable participants were having the rat close to them (varied distances) ● would make them listen to a tape describing an exaggerated experience with a rat ● then bring them back into the room to discover decrease in fear ■ systematic desensitization therapy: ● based on counter-conditioning, generalization ● try to replace the negative fear response with a relatively positive one ● fear of heights: ○ asked to make a list of 10 things that make them anxious about heights, increasing from least to most ○ establishes a fear hierarchy ○ participants go through a number of exercises that asks them to relax on command ○ participant is asked to picture anxiety inducing events while being relaxed, starting from least to most anxious ○ the second event starts to become easier as the non anxiety response to the first event has created a generalized positive view ○ final stage is to have the participant act out the events while asking her to relax ● involves low levels of anxiety ○ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ■ obsessions: persistent disturbing or disruptive thoughts or impulses causing them anxiety ■ compulsions: repetitive, ritualistic behaviours individual is compelled to perform ● relatively limited number of compulsions ○ hand washing ○ organizing and ordering ○ checking, rechecking ○ count
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