Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 265–273 | Cite as

Thoughts, images, worry, and anxiety

  • Mark H. Freeston
  • Michel J. Dugas
  • Robert Ladouceur


Recent models suggest that worry is primarily a verbal-linguistic process that enables images to be avoided and reduces somatic activation. Five-hundred and two subjects completed a questionnaire that assessed variables related to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) criteria and also asked subjects to indicate the percentage of thoughts and images while worrying. Subjects were divided into excessive worriers (worry excessively about two or more topics more days than not for at least the last 6 months) and ordinary worriers (those who did not meet the previous criteria). As predicted, worry was reported as being composed predominantly of thoughts rather than images, and excessive worriers reported a significantly higher percentage of thoughts compared to ordinary worriers. The number of somatic symptoms was positively correlated with the percentage of images. This relationship was stronger among excessive worriers than ordinary worriers, specifically for autonomic hyperactivity symptoms. Further, in the excessive worry group only there was a significant negative correlation between the number of autonomic hyperactivity symptoms and the percentage of thoughts.

Key words

worry anxiety thoughts images 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark H. Freeston
    • 1
  • Michel J. Dugas
    • 1
  • Robert Ladouceur
    • 1
  1. 1.Université Laval and Centre de Recherche Robert-Giffard Université LavalCanada

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