Stressed and Anxious
The United States had tremendous opportunities after World War II. The nation's industrial might, geared to defeat Germany and Japan, could now be focused on domestic production. Real wages were up, the GNP was on the rise, industrial production was up, and inflation was under control. The future looked bright for the average American. But this abundance was punctuated with anxiety. Within four years of the end of the war, the Soviet Union had become the new enemy: they had the bomb and China and Eastern Europe had fallen into the Soviet sphere of influence. These two points, the abundance of the growing economy and the anxiety of the Cold War, defined the period from 1945-1960.
This book owes its existence to an ideal, a burning frustration, and a trusted believer. The ideal was the sense that governed my feelings about systematic desensitization during my early introduction to its benefits. It is hard to put into words the initial doubts that pervaded me during my first attempt with desensitization with a seriously phobic client, as I reÂ ligiously worked my way through the procedure: "Will this client really become relaxed? And then what-will the visualization actually occur? And then what-will the fear really vanish, just like that?" And oh, the feeling of discovery, and validation, when indeed the process worked, and worked well. Desensitization was everything it was claimed to be: systematic, clean, theoretically grounded, empirically tested, applicable as a behavioral technology regardless of one's own theoretical bias. And there were testable outcomes; concrete evidence for change. So I became invested and aimed at doing more with desensitization. My students and I raised some theoretical questions in order to open the doors for revising the desensitization to improve on its applications. We tested the rapidity with which desensitization could be accomplished, shortening the time by shortening the anxiety hierarchy. Along with others, we studied the question of group delivery, and reducing the total number of sessions, as well as examining the use of audiotaped delivery of services.
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of extreme fear, nervousness, uneasiness or worry of impending doom, or an event of undetermined outcome. However, anxiety is not always a pathological process. The same feeling occurs naturally in association with an intense desire to do something. Every child or teenager experiences some degree of anxiety as part of their normal social and emotional development. Anxiety only becomes a problem when it is prolonged and starts to interfere with the normal expected daily activities of the child or teenager. Normal anxiety responds to comfort and reassurance; this is not true with clinical anxiety. This book is dedicated to all of those parents who have suffered through temper tantrums, mood swings, shouting matches, pouting, and arguments with their children. You have not failed if your child is depressed or anxious. You have just been given a challenge to create an environment which will help your child conquer this anxiety and grow into healthy adults.
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