Reducing the meta-emotional problem decreases physiological fear response during exposure in phobics

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Alessandro Couyoumdjian, Cristina Ottaviani, Nicola Petrocchi, Roberta Trincas, Katia Tenore, Carlo Buonanno, Francesco Mancini: Reducing the meta-emotional problem decreases physiological fear response during exposure in phobics. In: Frontiers in psychology, no. 7, pp. 1105, 2016, ISSN: 1664-1078.

Abstract

Anxiety disorders may not only be characterized by specific symptomatology (e.g., tachycardia) in response to the fearful stimulus (primary problem or first-level emotion) but also by the tendency to negatively evaluate oneself for having those symptoms (secondary problem or negative meta-emotion). An exploratory study was conducted driven by the hypothesis that reducing the secondary or meta-emotional problem would also diminish the fear response to the phobic stimulus. Thirty-three phobic participants were exposed to the phobic target before and after undergoing a psychotherapeutic intervention addressed to reduce the meta-emotional problem or a control condition. The electrocardiogram was continuously recorded to derive heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) and affect ratings were obtained. Addressing the meta-emotional problem had the effect of reducing the physiological but not the subjective symptoms of anxiety after phobic exposure. Preliminary findings support the role of the meta-emotional problem in the maintenance of response to the fearful stimulus (primary problem).

BibTeX (Download)

@article{Couyoumdjian2016,
title = { Reducing the meta-emotional problem decreases physiological fear response during exposure in phobics},
author = {Alessandro Couyoumdjian and Cristina Ottaviani and Nicola Petrocchi and Roberta Trincas and Katia Tenore and Carlo Buonanno and Francesco Mancini},
editor = {Martial Mermillod},
url = {https://apc.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/fpsyg-07-01105.pdf},
doi = {10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01105},
issn = {1664-1078},
year  = {2016},
date = {2016-07-25},
issuetitle = {Original Research},
journal = {Frontiers in psychology},
number = {7},
pages = {1105},
abstract = {Anxiety disorders may not only be characterized by specific symptomatology (e.g., tachycardia) in response to the fearful stimulus (primary problem or first-level emotion) but also by the tendency to negatively evaluate oneself for having those symptoms (secondary problem or negative meta-emotion). An exploratory study was conducted driven by the hypothesis that reducing the secondary or meta-emotional problem would also diminish the fear response to the phobic stimulus. Thirty-three phobic participants were exposed to the phobic target before and after undergoing a psychotherapeutic intervention addressed to reduce the meta-emotional problem or a control condition. The electrocardiogram was continuously recorded to derive heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) and affect ratings were obtained. Addressing the meta-emotional problem had the effect of reducing the physiological but not the subjective symptoms of anxiety after phobic exposure. Preliminary findings support the role of the meta-emotional problem in the maintenance of response to the fearful stimulus (primary problem).},
keywords = {autonomic nervous system, double standard, Heart rate, Heart rate variability, meta-emotional problem, phobic stimuli, self-criticism, specific phobia},
pubstate = {published},
tppubtype = {article}
}