A Neurophysiological Rationale for the Use of the Relaxation Response: Neurological Desensitization

  • George S. EverlyJr.
  • Jeffrey M. Lating


Since the original applications of behavioral technologies to the treatment of disease, it has been observed that the elicitation of what Benson (1975) has called the “relaxation response” has proved useful in the treatment of a wide variety of psychiatric and stress-related somatic diseases (Benson; Caudill, Schnable, Zuttermeister, Benson, & Friedman, 1991; Chen et al., 2009; Domar, Seidel, & Benson, 1990; Dunford & Thompson, 2010; Forbes, et al., 2008; Hellman, 1990; Kutz, Borysenko, & Benson, 1985; Lavey & Taylor, 1985; Mackereth, Booth, Hillier, & Caress, 2009; Manzoni, Pagnini, Castelnuovo, & Molinari, 2008; Moturi & Avis, 2010; Rausch, Gramilin, & Auerbach, 2006; Shapiro & Giber, 1978). The relaxation response is perhaps best understood as a psychophysiological state of hypoarousal engendered by a multitude of diverse technologies (e.g., meditation, neuromuscular relaxation, hypnosis). Research into the relaxation response as a therapeutic mechanism and its clinical proliferation have been hampered, however, by a lack of conceptual clarity regarding its therapeutic foundations and/or its mechanisms of action. This chapter will explore the physiological and psychological foundations of the relaxation response to set the stage for discussions in subsequent chapters of specific therapeutic technologies (e.g., meditation, neuromuscular relaxation) used to elicit the relaxation response for the treatment of stress-related diseases.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Anxiety Disorder Locus Coeruleus Limbic System Relaxation Technique 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • George S. EverlyJr.
    • 1
  • Jeffrey M. Lating
    • 2
  1. 1.School of MedicineThe Johns Hopkins UniversitySeverna ParkUSA
  2. 2.Loyola University MaylandBaltimoreUSA

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