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Foa, E.B. and Kozak, M.J. (1986) Emotional processing of fear: Exposure to corrective information. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 20-35.
Foa and Kozak (1986) reviewed a wide range of therapeutic interventions designed to reduce anxiety, and argued that they contained two common factors: activation of “fear structures” in memory, since fear structures stored in memory but not accessed cannot be changed; and integration of new information, some elements of which are incompatible with the original fear structures, into them -
“It is argued that some form of exposure to feared situations is common to many psychotherapies for anxiety, and that confrontation with feared objects or situations is an effective treatment” (abstract, p.20) i.e. Therapy involves the extinction of conditioned anxiety
In fact, although his concept of anxiety was clearly much more complex, ideas about relations between anxiety, avoidance behaviour and neurosis go back to Freud -
“.... symptoms are only formed in order to avoid anxiety.... thus anxiety would be the fundamental phenomenon and main problem of neurosis.” (Freud, 1959; p.144)
“Thus we attributed two modes of origin to anxiety in later life. One was involuntary, automatic... and arose whenever a dangerous situation... had established itself. The other was produced by the ego as soon as a situation of this kind merely threatened to occur, in order to call for its avoidance.” (Freud, 1959; p. 162).