Inhibiting the Automatic Panic Response by Changing Cognitions

Inhibiting the Automatic Panic Response by Changing Cognitions A Review of:Teachman, B.A., Marker, C.D., & Smith-Janik, S.B. (2008). Automatic associations and panic disorder: Trajectories of change over the course of treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(6), 988-1002.by Lauren C. Alexander No matter what the fear, humans are almost always able to attend to cues related to that specific fear despite being amidst a multitude of stimuli competing for attention. Likewise, the maladaptive schemata of panic describes how individuals are hyper vigilant to danger cues, remember those cues related to their fears, and will assign threatening interpretations to ambiguous cues. Moreover, there is mounting evidence of the likelihood that automatic panic associations are operating in individuals with panic disorder, however, these associations seem to be absent in nonanxious individuals. Unfortunately, the massive body of anxiety research is lacking in studies that can demonstrate that changes in automatic panic associations are the variables driving treatment response. A few researchers have studied whether the effectiveness of CBT could be at least partially explained by changes in cognition, but no research thus far has examined the temporal relationship between changes in cognition and CBT effectiveness. Accordingly, this research examined whether changes in automatic panic associations were temporally related to changes in panic symptoms. In order to explore this hypothesized relationship, Teachman, Marker, and Smith-Janik recruited 43 participants who met criteria for panic disorder and reported having a panic attack in the past month. Comorbidities were present in many of the participants, but only those that were likely to influence treatment response (e.g. current psychosis) were exclusion criteria. All participants completed the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II), Fear Questionnaire-Agoraphobia Subscale (F-Q Agoraphobia), and the Panic Disorder Severity Scale (PDSS). Also, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) was used to measure automatic panic associations. In addition, the IAT appears to be able to measure some of the qualities associated with automatic panic schemata through measuring an individual’s interwoven cognitive panic associations. The treatment protocol was...

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Confessions as Guaranteed Truths

Jan 25, 09 Confessions as Guaranteed Truths

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A Review of:Hasel, L. E. & Kassin, S. M. (2009; In-press). On the Presumption of Evidentiary Independence:Can Confessions Corrupt Eyewitness Identifications? Psychological Science.by Micol Levi-Minzi In this article Hasel and Kassin (2008) examine the impact of criminal confessions on eyewitness identification. The authors begin by discussing the Innocence Project, which has pardoned hundreds of innocent individuals who have been unjustly imprisoned for crimes they never committed. In the last decade organizations such as the Innocence Project have brought these types of situations to the public eye, and in this paper Hasel and Kassin (2008) take the issue one step further. The authors imply that although the public often views confessions as guaranteed truths they are frequently the result of coercion or responses to false evidence. Once individuals confess, either falsely or truthfully, the confession itself can taint other evidence. Hasel and Kassin (2008) focus on how confessions can contaminate eyewitness testimony. In this study, Hasel and Kassin (2008) utilized 260 undergraduate students in a two phase experiment. Initially the students were told they would be participating in a persuasion technique study; however, once brought to the lab they witnessed an individual steal a laptop from the experimenter’s desk. Upon returning to the lab, the experimenter explained to the participants that he or she knew a study on criminal investigations was taking place. The experimenter reported that he or she would proceed by gathering eyewitness accounts, questioning a set of suspects and ultimately deciding whom to charge for the crime. The experimenter enlisted the assistance of all the participants in solving the crime. The participants were asked to view a six person photographic line-up in which the actual thief was missing and determine which, if any, of the individuals represented in the line-up committed the crime. Lastly, participants were asked to rate the confidence they had in their line-up decision. In the second phase of the study participants were asked to return to the lab two days after the theft. Depending on whether the participants...

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Anxiety and Self-medication: Implications for Clinical Practice

Jan 24, 09 Anxiety and Self-medication: Implications for Clinical Practice

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Self-evaluation versus public evaluationA Review of:Robinson, J., Sareen, J., Cox, B.J., and Bolton, J.(2009). Self-medication of anxiety disorders with alcohol and drugs: Results from a nationally representative sample. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23, 38-45.by Heather N. Goddard Research across a variety of clinical and community based samples has concluded that anxiety disorders and substance use disorders are common comorbidities. Despite establishing that this frequent co-occurrence exists, few studies have offered a plausible explanation for the relationship. Robinson, Sareen, Cox, and Bolton (2009) attempted to explore one probable explanation know as the “self-medication hypothesis.” This hypothesis suggested that people with a primary diagnosis of an anxiety disorder attempt to self-medicate their anxiety symptoms which then develop into a substance use disorder. Previous research has attempted to explore this phenomenon on clinical samples which affect generalizability. Additionally, previous studies have failed to differentiate between methods of self medication, alcohol and/or drugs. The current study includes individuals from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) who met DSM-IV criteria for anxiety disorder (N = 7177). Participants were assessed for mood, anxiety, personality disorder, and substance use disorders. Method of self-medication was only assessed across four anxiety diagnoses (panic disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder). Information was then gathered regarding type of self-medication employed; alcohol, alcohol and drugs, or no self-medication. Self-medication with drugs only encompassed an especially small group and was thus omitted. Lastly, sociodemographic data was compiled in regards to income, race, education, marital status, age, gender, and urbanicity. Results indicated that rates of self-medication using alcohol were highest for those diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (18.5%), social phobia (16.9%), and panic disorder with agoraphobia (15.0%). No significant differences were found with regards to gender or other socio demographic variables. Highest rates for self-medication with alcohol and drugs were panic disorder with agoraphobia (14.9%) and generalized anxiety disorder (7.4%). This type of self-medication was more common with men (55.8%) versus women (44.2%), younger age groups (18-44), separated or never married,...

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Fight or Flight, Testosterone, and Dominance

Jan 13, 09 Fight or Flight, Testosterone, and Dominance

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Self-evaluation versus public evaluationA review of:Maner, J.K., Miller, S.L., Schmidt N.B., & Eckel, L.A. (2008). Submitting to defeat Social Anxiety: Dominance threat, and decrements in testosterone. Psychological Science. 19, 764-768.by Michael Morreale Miller, et al. (2008) have conducted a study to test two hypotheses. One is that a threat to social dominance would be associated with decreased levels of testosterone among individuals who scored high when tested for social anxiety. The other was that this response would be specific to males. The depletion in testosterone levels in humans and other animals is a characteristic of submissive behavior. In essence, they wanted to see if social anxiety serves to shape a response when a male’s dominance is threatened. Their hypotheses seem to be correct. In the experiment, participants were matched with confederates to compete with them in rigged games causing them to lose by a wide margin. Salivary samples were taken before and after the games, to assess the levels of testosterone present in the body. They had a sample of 58 undergraduate students, 35 women and 23 men with an average age of 18.9. Participants were told the study was an investigation in leadership styles, personality, and hormones. The participant’s level of social anxiety was assessed by completing a social phobia scale. Decrements in testosterone were found following a defeat in socially anxious men, but not in women. Men who did not score high in social anxiety actually had an increase in testosterone as a response to having their dominance threatened. This trend fits when examined under an evolutionary lens. In terms of reproduction, men have more to gain by achieving a higher place in the hierarchy of dominance than women do. This suggests that social anxiety may have a stronger link with concerns about social dominance in men than in women. As mentioned by Miller, et al. (2008), submissive strategies can be seen as both adaptive and maladaptive depending on their severity and frequency. It can lead to avoiding potential harm, or additional...

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