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Unformatted text preview: to say that clinicians currently know more about the causes
of phobias, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder than about generalized
anxiety disorder. It is worth noting that the insights about panic disorder and obsessivecompulsive disorder—once among the field’s most puzzling patterns—did not emerge
until clinical theorists took a look at the disorders from more than one perspective and
integrated those views. Today’s cognitive explanation of panic disorder, for example,
builds squarely on the biological idea that the disorder begins with abnormal brain
activity and unusual physical sensations. Similarly, the cognitive explanation of obsessivecompulsive disorder takes its lead from the biological position that some people are
predisposed to experience more unwanted and intrusive thoughts than others.
It may be that a fuller understanding of generalized anxiety disorder awaits a similar
integration of the various models. In fact, such an integration has already begun to unfold.
Recall, for example, that one of the new wave cognitive explanations for generalized ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 129 BETWEEN THE LINES
Studies indicate that infants who are
generally anxious or “difficult” are more
likely than other infants to later experience nightmares throughout their childhood (Simard et al., 2008). << 12/10/09 11:16:37 AM 130 ://CHAPTER 4 •stress management program•An approach to treating generalized and
other anxiety disorders that teaches
clients techniques for reducing and controlling stress. anxiety disorder links the cognitive process of worrying to heightened bodily arousal in
individuals with the disorder.
Similarly, a growing number of theorists are adopting a diathesis-stress view of generalized anxiety disorder. They believe that certain individuals have a biological vulnerability
toward developing the disorder—a vulnerability that is eventually brought to the surface
by psychological and sociocultural factors. Indeed, genetic investigators have discovered
that certain genes may determine whether a person reacts to life’s stressors calmly or in
a tense manner, and developmental researchers have found that even during the earliest stages of life some infants become particularly aroused when stimulated (Burijon,
2007; Kalin, 1993). Perhaps these easily aroused infants have inherited defects in GABA
functioning or other biological limitations that predispose them to generalized anxiety
disorder. If, over the course of their lives, the individuals also face intense societal pressures, learn to interpret the world as a dangerous place, or come to regard worrying as a
useful tool, they may be candidates for developing generalized anxiety disorder.
Diathesis-stress principles may also be at work in the development of phobias. Several
studies suggest, for example, that certain infants are born with a style of social inhibition
or shyness that may increase their risk of developing a social phobia (Smoller et al., 2003;
Kagan & Snidman, 1999, 1991). Perhaps peopl...
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