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For Freud, anxiety was a key symptom of neurosis, wherein the anxiety resulted from an unconscious inner conflict.
Common features of anxiety
- Physiological (overarousal): Sweaty palms. Butterflies in the stomach. Tense muscles. Trembling
- Cognitive: Worry. Preoccupation with potential problems. Difficulty concentrating
- Behavioral: Social withdrawal. Lowered performance (at higher levels of anxiety). Escape and avoidance behaviors
Temperament refers to very general dispositions akin to a global personality style.
Process by which behaviors can be learned or modified through interaction with the environment.
To be responsive to threats in the environment is adaptive. Evolutionary theory would suggest that adaptive threat sensitivity would evolve over time. Indeed, we find that stimuli which have historically been a threat to man (snakes, large animals, the dark, heights) are the same ones of which we most readily become afraid. This biologically based preparation for fear is called preparedness.
Phobias, Specific phobias, Social phobias
Phobia refers to a disproportionate fear of an object or situation. Specific phobia is fear of a specific object or situation that is not social. Encountering the object/situation almost always triggers an anxiety response. Social phobias are an exaggerated fear of social situations. These fears can be specific, such as fear of crowds or of public speaking, or they can be general, such as fear of any public performance.
Agoraphobia included a variety of phobic behaviors that seemed contradictory for a single disorder, such as fear of both open and closed spaces. Recently it has been recognized that agoraphobia usually occurs in conjunction with panic disorder. It appears, then, that the phobic behavior is driven by a fear of being in an awkward situation should another episode of panic occur.
This is a technique wherein the clients imagine themselves in successively closer approximations to feared situations, all the while learning to maintain emotional control.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
A disorder characterized by anxiety symptoms that are present much of the time. The symptoms tend to include a tense, jittery style with substantial worry and difficulty concentrating.
Common to anxiety disorders of all types, for generalized anxiety disorder there is a more-or-less constant readiness to deal with the future "possibility" of problems. Interestingly, these persons seem intent on readiness for the worst no matter how good things are going for them at the present.
Obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are persistent, recurring thoughts that are the person experiences as intrusive and unwanted. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that the person feels driven to perform.
Four major subtypes of specific phobias
- 1. Animal phobia (afraid of a specific animal)
- 2. Natural environment (heights, storms, water...)
- 3. Blood injection-injury
- 4. Situational phobia (airplaine, elevator, enclosed places...)
Brain circuit in the limbic system that responds to threat signals by inhibiting activity and causing anxiety.
Fight or flight
Biological reaction to alarming stressors that musters the body's resources to resist or flee the threat. Sympathetic nervous system...
Presentation or systematic exposure of emotions or fearful or traumatic experiences in the imagination.
Ways to develop a phobia
- 1. Direct contact (where real danger or pain results in an alarm response)
- 2. Experiencing a false alarm in a specific situation
- 3. Observing someon else experience severe fear
- 4. Being told about danger.