Relationship of Phobic Behavior, Hypnotizability, and Conditioning
The six case histories in the last chapter reporting treatment of phobic behavior illustrate, quite well, common characteristics. Although none of these patients can be described as severely disabled, they were all prevented by their neuroses, in some way, from participating fully in what they were obligated or wished to do. The casual observer was likely to suspect neither the extent of the episodic disability nor the extreme discomfort of the panic they were compelled to experience under fairly pedestrian circumstances. Even in reporting their problems they too, at times, had some distance on them, as they shared their amused embarrassment at the exaggerated nature of their phobic responses. More serious discussion of the symptoms, however, revealed how real they were. Regardless of their irrational nature, the fears were impermeable to logic under ordinary circumstances, and the events that would precipitate them were energetically avoided or denied where possible. All the patients reported were highly hypnotizable, and in one instance markedly so. While these cases were selected for their variety, general interest, and relatively straightforward clinical course, they are not unique.
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