Fundamentals_of_Abnormal_Psychology_6e_Ch04

A person may live a life of compulsive kindness and

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Unformatted text preview: 2/10/09 11:16:31 AM Anxiety Disorders :// 125 Michael Shaw/Cartoonbank.com •isolation•An ego defense mechanism in which people unconsciously isolate and disown undesirable and unwanted thoughts, experiencing them as foreign intrusions. •undoing•An ego defense mechanism whereby a person unconsciously cancels out an unacceptable desire or act by performing another act. •reaction formation•An ego defense mechanism whereby a person suppresses an unacceptable desire by taking on a lifestyle that expresses the opposite desire. “Is the Itsy Bitsy Spider obsessive-compulsive?” actions. A woman who keeps imagining her mother lying broken and bleeding, for example, may counter those thoughts with repeated safety checks throughout the house. According to psychodynamic theorists, three ego defense mechanisms are particularly common in obsessive-compulsive disorder: isolation, undoing, and reaction formation. People who resort to isolation simply disown their unwanted thoughts and experience them as foreign intrusions. People who engage in undoing perform acts that are meant to cancel out their undesirable impulses. Those who wash their hands repeatedly, for example, may be symbolically undoing their unacceptable id impulses. People who develop a reaction formation take on a lifestyle that directly opposes their unacceptable impulses. A person may live a life of compulsive kindness and devotion to others in order to counter unacceptable aggressive impulses. Sigmund Freud traced obsessive-compulsive disorder to the anal stage of development (occurring at about 2 years of age). He proposed that during this stage some children experience intense rage and shame as a result of negative toilet-training experiences. Other psychodynamic theorists have argued instead that such early rage reactions are rooted in feelings of insecurity (Erikson, 1963; Sullivan, 1953; Horney, 1937). Either way, these children repeatedly feel the need to express their strong aggressive id impulses while at the same time knowing they should try to restrain and control the impulses. If this conflict between the id and ego continues, it may eventually blossom into obsessivecompulsive disorder. Overall, research has not clearly supported the psychodynamic explanation (Fitz, 1990). When treating patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychodynamic therapists try to help the individuals uncover and overcome their underlying conflicts and defenses, using the customary techniques of free association and therapist interpretation. Research has offered little evidence, however, that a traditional psychodynamic approach is of much help (Bram & Björgvinsson, 2004). Thus some psychodynamic therapists now prefer to treat these patients with short-term psychodynamic therapies, which, as you saw in Chapter 2, are more direct and action-oriented than the classical techniques. The Behavioral Perspective Behaviorists have concentrated on explaining and treating compulsions rather than obsessions. They propose...
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