Rachman deals with definitions and the nature of anxiety and fear, theories and influences on anxiety, panic and cognitive theory, specific phobias and the conditioning theory of fear.


Surging advances in the understanding and treatment of anxiety disorders have made it necessary to revise and expand this book. Signs of impending change were evident in the research described in the first edition but the progress made in the past 6 years has exceeded expectations. At least 12 new theories of psychopathology have been published in this period, and 7 of them deal with the anxiety disorders. Some of them are causal theories-unusual in clinical psychology-and all of them incorporate cognitive concepts. The theories are becoming increasingly specific and most provide platforms for the derivation of equally specific methods of treatment. The evaluation of theories and treatments is an unavoidably lengthy and demanding process and definitive conclusions about particular theories, and the general pattern of these developments, is some way off.

The basic science deals with the psychology of anxiety but the current emphasis on applied science, on the nature and treatment of disorders of anxiety, overshadows the basic research. The preoccupation with anxiety disorders, and the pressures to master these distressing problems, are understandable but they have tilted the balance from basic to applied research. However, the interplay between basic and applied research is a two-way process that benefits both. Advances in understanding the phenomena and mechanisms of anxiety disorders help to illuminate fundamental psychological processes. The expansion of understanding of the emotion of fear was largely the result of clinical research. An excellent example of the interplay is now taking place in current analyses of the intriguing disturbances of memory that are so conspicuous in PTSD. Intensive studies of the clinical phenomena have already begun to expand our conceptions of basic memory processes.

S. Rachman,

Vancouver, 2003


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