Psychological Self-Help

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immediately do what you are afraid of doing? For some people
confronting the fear (method #6) would be more efficient but for many
it seems impossible to do without the aid of a method like
Lastly, there is some evidence that body chemistry is involved in
some fears, especially agoraphobia (fear of being away from home)
which is difficult to treat. Fortunately, tricyclic antidepressants are
effective in preventing the panic reactions of some people with
agoraphobia, so that 1/3 do not need psychotherapy or
desensitization. Yet, even if biochemical factors are involved,
desensitization claims an 85% cure rate with agoraphobia (Salholz,
Namuth, Zabarsky, Junkin, & Jackson, 1984). 
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
Extensive research during the last 20 to 25 years has generally
documented the effectiveness of desensitization. Wolpe originally
reported 90% effectiveness but later results have not been quite so
positive. Psychologists do not know exactly how it works. There is
clearly a strong suggestion effect built into the method. And, some
experiments have found powerful placebo effects (suggestion effects)
to be as effective in reducing fears as desensitization. 
Since it emphasizes relaxation, desensitization is excellent for
people who hate pain and stress. It is painless. Another advantage is
that the procedures are simple and easily understood. As mentioned in
chapter 5, self-desensitization has been reported to be more effective
than therapist administered desensitization. It is a lot cheaper. There
are no known dangers. 
Additional reading
Fensterheim, H.& Baer, J. (1978). Stop running scared. New
York: Dell. 
Forgione, A. G. & Bauer, F. M. (1980). Fearless flying: The
complete program for relaxed air travel. New York: Houghton
Rosen, G. (1976). Don't be afraid: A program for overcoming
your fears and phobias. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Sutherland, E. A., Amit, Z., & Weiner, A. (1978). Phobia free:
How to fight your fears. New York: Jove.
Shapiro, F. (1995). Eye Movement Desensitization and
Reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures. New
York: Guilford Publications. 
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