This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: ople who make these assumptions are faced with a stressful event, such as
an exam or a blind date, they are likely to interpret it as dangerous, to overreact, and
to experience fear. As they apply the assumptions to more and more events, they may
begin to develop generalized anxiety disorder (Warren, 1997).
Similarly, cognitive theorist Aaron Beck argued that people with generalized anxiety disorder constantly hold silent assumptions (for example, “A situation or a person
is unsafe until proven to be safe” or “It is always best to assume the worst”) that imply
they are in imminent danger (Beck & Weishaar, 2008; Beck & Emery, 1985). Since the
time of Ellis’s and Beck’s initial proposals, researchers have repeatedly found that people
with generalized anxiety disorder do indeed hold maladaptive assumptions, particularly
about dangerousness (Riskind & Williams, 2005). New Wave Cognitive Explanations In recent years, three new explanations
for generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes called the new wave cognitive explanations,
have emerged (Ritter et al., 2010). Each of them builds on the work of Ellis and Beck
and their emphasis on danger.
The metacognitive theory, developed by the researcher Adrian Wells (2009, 2005),
suggests that people with generalized anxiety disorder implicitly hold both positive
and negative beliefs about worrying. On the positive side, they believe that worrying
is a useful way of appraising and coping with threats in life. And so they look for and
examine all possible signs of danger—that is, they worry constantly.
At the same time, Wells argues, individuals with generalized anxiety disorder also
hold negative beliefs about worrying, and these negative attitudes are the ones that open
the door to the disorder. Because society teaches them that worrying is a bad thing, the
individuals come to believe that their repeated worrying is in fact harmful (mentally
and physically) and uncontrollable. Now they further worry about the fact that they
always seem to be worrying (so-called metaworries) (see Table 4-3). The net effect of all
this worrying: generalized anxiety disorder.
This explanation has received considerable research support. Studies indicate, for
example, that individuals who generally hold both positive and negative beliefs about
worrying are particularly prone to developing generalized anxiety disorder (Khawaja & 12/10/09 11:16:06 AM Anxiety Disorders :// 101 A CLOSER LOOK
Fears, Shmears: The Odds Are Usually on Our Side P A city resident will be a victim of a
violent crime . . . 1 in 60
A suburbanite will be a victim of a
violent crime . . . 1 in 1,000
A small-town resident will be a victim of
a violent crime . . . 1 in 2,000
A child will suffer a high chair injury this
year . . . 1 in 6,000 Build with care
The chance of a construction worker being injured
at work during the year is 1 in 27. Jim Harrison/Stock Boston eople with anxiety disorders have
many unreasonable fears, but millions
of other people, too, worry about disaster...
View Full Document