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August 1954

RECIPROCAL INHIBITION AS THE MAIN BASIS OF PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Author Affiliations

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1954;72(2):205-226. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1954.02330020073007
Abstract

THE AIM of this paper is to show that when fundamental psychotherapeutic effects are obtained in neuroses—no matter by what therapist—these effects are nearly always really a consequence of the occurrence of reciprocal inhibition of neurotic anxiety responses, i. e., the complete or partial suppression of the anxiety responses as a consequence of the simultaneous evocation of other responses physiologically antagonistic to anxiety. Several new psychotherapeutic techniques are described that have been derived directly from the reciprocal inhibition principle and have turned out to be of value.

In previous writings * I presented evidence in support of the view that neurotic behavior is persistent unadaptive learned behavior in which anxiety is almost always prominent and which is acquired in anxiety-generating situations. By "anxiety" is meant the autonomic response pattern or patterns that are characteristically part of the given organism's response to noxious stimulation, and the term is applied irrespective of the

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