Using Fear to Scare Away Mental Health Issues

Oct 30, 2017

Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, is the oldest and most common phobia in Western culture.
Credit Anthony/

          New psychology research suggests the old cliche of 'facing your fears' might hold more truth than originally thought. MSU professor, Dr. Michael Bordieri, visited Sounds Good to discuss how fear might effectively scare away various mental health issues. 

         Since around the 1920s, psychologists have been using fear-inducing techniques to treat phobias and anxieties. This usually included brief and repeated exposure to the patient's triggers, which ended upon the completion of the session. For example, someone suffering from arachnophobia -- the fear of spiders -- might endure repeated interaction or exposure to spiders. The goal is to have the patients habituate, or become accustomed to, the cause of stress, fear or anxiety until the familiarity reduces the fear altogether. 
               New psychological research, however, suggests that maintaining that high-stress or frightened state for longer periods of time (after the session is completed) might be more beneficial in the treatment of mental health issues. Dr. Michael Bordieri, MSU professor of psychology, speaks with Tracy Ross about how these methods might be utilized and why they work.