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Articles   |    
The Current Status of Systematic Densitization
JOSEPH WOLPE; JOHN PAUL BRADY; MICHAEL SERBER; W. STEWART AGRAS; ROBERT PAUL LIBERMAN
Am J Psychiatry 1973;130:961-965.
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Professor of Psychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.

Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.

Clinical Director, Atascadero State Hospital, Atascadero, Calif.

Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson, Miss.

Research Psychiatrist, Camarillo-Neuropsychiatric Institute Research Program, Camarillo State Hospital, Box A, Camarillo, Calif. 93010

1973, the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Systematic desensitization is indicated for phobias, obsessions, compulsions, and anxiety reactions that are maintained by anxiety-reducing defense mechanisms. The technique involves instruction in deep muscle relaxation, construction of an anxiety hierarchy, and stepwise pairing of relaxation with imagined anxiety-provoking scenes. The basic principle is that relaxation is incompatible with anxiety. Relaxation can be induced by direct instruction, drugs, carbon dioxide, hypnosis, positive imagery, and a metronome-conditioned method. More than 100 outcome studies indicate that systematic desensitization produces significantly better results than a variety of comparison therapies.

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