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October 1970

Muscle Tension and Effort at Self-Control During Anxiety

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago. Dr. Oken is now Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Upstate Medical Center, State University of New York, Syracuse.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;23(4):359-368. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01750040071011

THE MUSCLES respond to voluntary control and yet, during immobility, are known to reflect levels of autonomic arousal.1,2 But since muscle tension levels do not agree fully with other indices of arousal,3 the question arises as to what variables other than arousal are expressed in the level of muscle tension. Balshan4 found that the trait of anxiety was not related to muscle tension levels at rest but that it was related to the amount of increase in muscle tension when a normal subject was aroused by white noise. After demonstrating that this same principle applies to psychiatric patients, Goldstein5 went on to show that, when trait anxiety is kept constant, both depression and psychosis in a psychiatric patient are associated with a greater muscular response to white noise. Suspecting that the muscle tension increase is not just a component of the anxiety response but is

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