Theory and Technique

  • Patrick A. Boudewyns
  • Robert H. Shipley


Thomas Stampfl originally developed implosive therapy based, in part, on Mowrer’s two-factor theory (Mowrer, 1960). Two-factor theory suggests that stimuli paired with pain or deprivation come to elicit negative emotions. These emotions, in turn, motivate defensive maneuvers. Maneuvers that successfully reduce or terminate the feared conditioned stimuli are reinforced by the reduction in negative affect. Continued symptomatic avoidance of stimuli that elicit negative affect prevents extinction from occurring. In implosive therapy, the client is repeatedly exposed to those stimuli he or she has learned to fear. It is the repetition of these avoided stimuli in the absence of physical pain or deprivation that leads to a progressive reduction in the emotional responses that drive the symptomatic behavior of the patient. Reduction or elimination of this drive state leads to a reduction or elimination of the patient’s avoidance symptoms.


Conditioned Stimulus Avoidance Behavior Tall Building Bodily Injury Sexual Material 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick A. Boudewyns
    • 1
  • Robert H. Shipley
    • 2
  1. 1.Veterans Administration Medical CenterMedical College of GeorgiaAugustaUSA
  2. 2.Veterans Administration Medical CenterDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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