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Rachman, S. (1977) The conditioning theory of fear-acquisition a critical examination. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 15, 375-87.

a.     many patients cannot recall crucial traumatic experiences;

b.     others have lots of traumas but can deal with them —

cognitive interpretations and attributions certainly come in.

1. Individual differences and Eysenck’s personality theory — high conditionability and sensitivity to aversive outcomes may predispose individuals to neurosis.

2. Prepared stimuli spiders, snakes and frogs, the dark – social disapproval, fear of failure, all these things appear to be innately associated with neurosis. This is no longer a problem for learning theory explanations.

3. Unimportance of actual experience — versus unconscious fears based on insecurities of arising from complex inter-personal dynamics

NB Rachman stresses lack of self-referrals for counselling about neurosis during the blitz in London and Liverpool: physical traumas did not cause neurosis.

[Rachman proposed “3 pathways to fear” — i. direct conditioning, ii. observational learning, iii. other sources of information]  


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Gersons, B.P.R and Carlier, I.V.E (1992) “Post-traumatic stress disorder: the history of a recent concept.” British Journal of Psychiatry 161, 742-8

Characteristic symptoms include:

i. Re-living aspects of the trauma

ii. Avoidance of anything likely to remind the individual of the trauma

iii Heightened irritability including hyper-arousal, sleep disturbance and quick temper.  


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