Psychological Self-Help

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1227
There are several mood-altering drugs: tobacco, alcohol,
marijuana, tranquilizers, anti-depressive medicine, cocaine, mood-
elevators, speed, etc. There is always some "new" illegal drug, e.g.
ecstasy and LSD (Adler, 1985). Drugs--prescribed and street--are
used in enormous quantities in our culture, and probably to some
extent by more than half of the adult population. I haven't included
drugs in psychological self-help because they aren't psychological--and
because I have no expertise in that area. Furthermore, while drugs,
legal and illegal, alter our emotions, the drugs do nothing to change
the conditions that cause the unwanted feelings. Marijuana, cocaine,
anti-depressants and speed will lift your depression momentarily but
the drugs will not remove the causes of the depression. Thus, one
might come to depend on drugs to cope with unwanted emotions.
Removing the causes, if possible, would be a better solution. Many
writers have suggested that there are a variety of better alternatives
to the use of mood-altering drugs, e.g. travel, sports, fitness, relaxing,
reading, movies, eating, good conversation, education, friendships,
helping others, a social cause, etc. 
 
Implosion and Rational-Emotive imagery therapy
Implosion was described in the last section of chapter 5 (method
#7). The method is like flooding (method #6 in this chapter) except
implosion only uses fantasy. You should know about this therapeutic
approach, but it will be difficult for most people to apply implosion to
themselves. For instance, surprising and shocking fantasies are
needed (it is hard to surprise yourself); also, scenes of special
significance to your unconscious are supposedly helpful. For example,
Stampfl treated a man with a fear of driving by describing many scary
driving and accident scenes. Naturally, the man became very
frightened. Then he had the patient imagine driving a sports car down
a highway faster and faster. The big engine roars and surges with
power. The long, shiny hood of the powerful sports car grows longer
and longer. Gradually the hood turns into a huge, throbbing penis,
which crashes into a semi-truck and is completely crushed. A Freudian,
of course, would assume that the fear of driving involves more
fundamental fears, like fears of death and mutilation (castration
anxiety), which also need to be reduced. In implosive treatment, the
idea is to keep on imagining horrifying scenes for hours until the panic
responses diminish; thus, breaking the stimulus (driving)-fear
connection. 
If a person had a fear of heights, an unconscious fear might be of
death or there might be an unconscious wish for death. A few people
could make up their own terrifying fantasies, but most of us would
need help from a therapist. If you try this method, remember that at
first you become more afraid and only after a few hours of terror do
you start to overcome the fear. So be sure to continue imagining the
horror stories until you have become used to them and are not
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