Consequences of Increasing the Functional Impact of Internal Emotional Stimuli

  • T. D. Borkovec
  • J. B. Grayson
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 6)


Traditional clinical psychology has long emphasized the importance of assisting clients with emotional problems to “get in touch with their feelings” in an effort to resolve these problems. Classic learning theory applications to clinical phenomena have viewed such a process as far less relevant to the therapeutic endeavor, relative to an emphasis on changing environment-response relationships. Recent research suggests, however, that the learning position has perhaps disregarded some fundamentally important dimensions of emotional behavior which are quite deducible from learning theory on the one hand, and yet, may be analogous to some of the outcomes, if not the goals or methods, of the traditional approaches. Specifically, internal stimuli (cognitive and physiological) are very much a part of the functional environment of the individual and probably represent fundamental units of the feeling states of concern to traditional therapy. As response-produced cues, they may provide some of the most important stimuli entering into relationships with emotional responses and, consequently, represent critical variables for the modification of emotional disorders. Certainly the emergence of cognitive behavior modification (e.g., Meichenbaum, 1974) rests upon such a position and has heralded an increased attention to the critical role of cognition in mediating maladjustment and modification within the field of behavior change research.


Fear Extinction Heart Rate Reaction Imagery Condition Positive Expectancy Systematic Desensitization 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. D. Borkovec
    • 1
  • J. B. Grayson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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