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

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

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

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


Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is the fear of anxiety sensations which arises from beliefs that these sensations have harmful somatic, social, or psychological consequences. Over the past decade, AS has attracted a great deal of attention from researchers and clinicians with more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles published. In addition, AS has been the subject of numerous symposia, papers, and posters at professional conventions.

Why this growing interest?
Theory and research suggest that AS plays an important role in the etiology and maintenance of many forms of psychopathology, including anxiety disorders, depression, chronic pain, and substance abuse.

Bringing together experts from a variety of different areas, this volume offers the first comprehensive state-of-the-art review of AS--its conceptual foundations, assessment, causes, consequences, and treatment--and points new directions for future work. It will prove to be an invaluable resource for clinicians, researchers, students, and trainees in all mental health professions.


Stanley Rachman

University of British Columbia

Sensitivity to stress is a perennial and important concept, embedded in all diathesis theories. Plainly, people vary in their sensitivity to stress. In any potentially stressful situation, some people will endure without difficulty while others show signs of acute distress. That said, we need to find out whether the sensitivity is specific to the particular stressor or whether it is a general predisposition, likely to become manifest in a range of situations. Another possibility is that many people harbor a general sensitivity within which specific susceptibilities are nested.

In time, these questions give rise to technical problems: How can we recognize and measure general and specific sensitivities? Is sensitivity unidimensional? How does it develop? Can we construct reliable and valid test-beds without straying over ethical borders? Can we infer sensitivity from the emergence of psychopathology? and so forth. These and many related matters are analyzed and discussed in this timely and useful compendium cum progress report on anxiety sensitivity.

From the time of its introduction by Reiss and McNally in 1985, the concept of anxiety sensitivity -- the fear of anxiety-related sensation's-attracted active attention. In part this attention arose from a recognition that the idea of variable sensitivities has not been adequately explored, even though progress has been made, as in the concepts of neuroticism, trait anxiety, and so forth. A second . . .

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