Anxiety Sensitivity: Theory, Research, and Treatment of the Fear of Anxiety

By Steven Taylor | Go to book overview

11
Anxiety Sensitivity in Children

Wendy K. Silverman Carl F. Weems Florida International University

Age does not make us childish, as they say. It only finds us true children still. -- Goethe, from Faust [The First Part. Prelude on the Stage], 1808-1852

Meaning, other than practical, there is for us none. -- William James, from Pragmatism, 1907

That we are contributing a chapter to an edited volume on anxiety sensitivity (AS) is evidence enough for the intense attention that this construct has drawn among researchers and theorists since Reiss and his colleagues first started writing about it not too long ago ( Reiss, 1991; Reiss & McNally, 1985; Reiss, Peterson, Gursky, & McNally, 1986). Although there continue to be more questions than answers about AS, the research findings are impressively consistent. They show that adults with high AS, compared with those with low AS, are more likely to respond negatively to challenge procedures and stress tasks (e.g., Shostak & Peterson, 1990) and are more likely to develop either panic attacks, panic disorder, or other anxiety disorders (e.g., Maller & Reiss, 1992; Schmidt, Lerew, & Jackson, 1997; see chaps. 6, 9, and 10). These findings are all the more amazing when one considers that they have been obtained across different research laboratories, sampling different populations, and using different methodologies. One would be hard-pressed to identify another psychological construct in adult anxiety psychopathology research (and perhaps in all adult psychopathology research) that has proved so promising in the prediction of pathology.

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