Several researchers (Gelder, 1976; MacLean and Graff, 1970;
Olson, 1975) have found this method to be generally effective--also
see references above and under fear and panic in chapter 5. The major
advantage of the method is its speed. Another possible advantage is
the self-esteem, the feeling of strength one might gain during the
process. The major danger is, if during the exposure, the stress
becomes too great and you give up. If the fear over-whelms you, you
will be strengthening the fear response and weakening your self-
confidence. There are probably some mild risks in the opposite
direction, namely, of exposing yourself to various mildly scary scenes
but never getting to the point of extinguishing the unwanted intense
fear responses. This could actually strengthen your fear somewhat.
Another danger is using the method where real dangers exist, like
jumping into water over your head or confronting a bully or a
vindictive boss. Don't do these things. We are only reducing unrealistic
fears. Be careful, take no real risks.
Gelder, M. (1976). Flooding. In T. Thompson & W. Dockens
(Eds.), Applications of behavior modification. New York:
Olsen, P. (1975). Emotional flooding. Baltimore, MD: Penguin
Stress-inoculation: Self-instructions and coping imagery
Stress-inoculation involves gaining awareness of why we get upset.
Then we learn ways to control our emotions, e.g. through self-
instructions and rational thinking and by changing our attitudes and
expectations. Finally, by imagining being in the stressful situation over
and over, we can practice calming ourselves down with these self-help
methods. Later, we use these same self-instructions and techniques to
stay calm in the real situation. In short, we use our reasoning power
and imagination to reduce our unwanted emotional responses.
This method combines several cognitive techniques into a complex
treatment program which is useful with several emotions in many
situations. Meichenbaum (1985) is the originator and principle
To devise ways of coping with your stressful emotions, such as
fears, anxiety, worries, sadness, anger, jealousy, guilt,
shyness, self-criticism or almost any other emotion. Fear and
anger are the most common emotions dealt with.