Wolpe's Systematic Desensitization

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We are all familiar with the topic of anxiety and have all experienced it in anxiety-arousing situations, whether it is taking a big exam, public speaking, or meeting new people. Extreme anxiety is the central characteristic of neuroses, now known as anxiety disorders, and can sometimes interfere with a person’s life in that normal and desired functioning is made impossible. One of the most common forms of anxiety is phobias or the irrational fear of something even in the absence of real danger. Someone who suffers phobic reactions can take a simple fear out of proportion and may vigilantly act in avoidance of a situation where the feared stimulus is expected. A phobia can significantly interfere with one’s life and this was primarily the goal…show more content…
Wolpe’s systematic desensitization method was significant in that it provided an effective method of treating severe anxiety and phobic reactions. Phobias can significantly interfere with one’s life in that normal and desired functioning is made impossible and to help someone overcome a phobia is primarily the goal of systematic desensitization. Perhaps we already know how to overcome a fear and Wolpe was quick to point this out himself: frequent exposure to a feared object may result in the gradual disappearance of the fear. Although we already know this, systematic desensitization and the use of the anxiety hierarchy provided a way to treat extreme anxiety and phobic reactions when they interfere with normal functioning. On a personal perspective, if I were on the shoes of the researcher, in this case, Wolpe, I would not change anything about his perfected systematic desensitization method; his method effectively treated extreme anxiety and phobias. Numerous studies on behavioral therapy followed after Wolpe’s findings and his use of classical conditioning and reciprocal inhibition to the treatment of psychological disorders has become a part of intervention strategies. A study conducted by Frederickson relied on Wolpe’s reciprocal inhibition concept in treating difficulties stemming from negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, or any stress-related problems (Frederickson, 2000). Based on the idea that two emotions cannot occur at once, Frederickson hypothesized that teaching patients with such psychological disorders strong positive emotions, such as optimism and contentment, it will directly inhibit the negative emotions. Another study based on Wolpe’s findings proved the effectiveness of systematic desensitization, wherein college students

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