Originally called reciprocal inhibition, systematic desensitization works on the premise that the original fears are learned and therefore can be unlearned. This process was originally developed by Joseph Wolpe. And although his assumptions about the role of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in this process proved to be wrong, his systematic desensitization program when practically applied has been proven to be highly affective and has become the leading treatment for phobias and anxiety (Sapp, 2004). Put simply, since this system assumes that phobias are learned, and therefore can be unlearned, it provides a process to help people accomplish this using a controlled exposure to whatever the focus of the phobia may be. It thereby helps to take away the individuals reactivity to the particular object. To prepare for the process, the individual must learn the basic skills of relaxation, and the ability to do so as needed, or at will. They may use deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation, or other techniques (Stein, 2004).
Ophidiophobia is the intense fear of snakes. This is different from people who do not care for snakes or fear them because they are poisonous or dangerous. An ophidiophobic would not only fear them when living around them but also dread to think about or even see them on television or in books (Murrie & Murrie, 2010). So to apply this process to Ophidiophobia, the next step would be to use a systematic desensitization hierarchy to make what seems like an insurmountable task into “baby steps”. This begins with the least intimidating to the most difficult. So it would be something like this: 1- Think about a snake 2- Look at a comical drawing of a snake 3- Look at a more realistic representation of a snake 4- Look at an actual photograph of a snake 5- Look at a snake skin that has been shed 6- Touch a snake skin that has been shed 7- Look at a tame snake in a tank from a distance 8- Look at a tame snake in a tank up close. 9-...
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