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Definition of Desensitization (psychology)

Desensitization (psychology) Definition from Encyclopedia Dictionaries & Glossaries
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In psychology, desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. It also occurs when an emotional response is repeatedly evoked in situations in which the action tendency that is associated with the emotion proves irrelevant or unnecessary. Desensitization is a process primarily used to assist individuals unlearn phobias and anxieties and was developed by psychologist Mary Cover Jones. Joseph Wolpe (1958) developed a method of a hierarchal list of anxiety evoking stimuli in order of intensity, which allows individuals to undergo adaption. Although medication is available for individuals suffering from anxiety, fear or phobias, empirical evidence supports desensitization with high rates of cure, particularly in clients suffering from depression or schizophrenia.

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