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October 1966

Insight vs Desensitization in Psychotherapy: An Experiment in Anxiety Reduction.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(4):443-444. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730160107021

This experiment is an example of a trend to be anticipated.1

The author treated the target behavior "performance anxiety manifested in public speaking." Ninety-six college students, highest of 710 on performance anxiety, composed the studied population. Seventy-four were rated on a checklist of performance anxiety during a test speech, and by a battery of personality and anxiety scales. Twenty-two did not make a test speech, but were studied as "no-contact" controls. After the test speech, subjects were assigned randomly from checklist scores to groups (systematic desensitization, insight-oriented treatment, attention-placebo treatment, a "no-treatment" contacted control, and a "no-contact" control). The subjects were young, middle class, intelligent, disturbed by their problem, strongly motivated. The duration of their performance anxiety was 2 to 20 years. Their anxiety was generally also present in most interpersonal and evaluative settings. The five therapists were experienced, highly regarded in

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