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J Clin Psychol. 1981 Apr;37(2):309-15.

Progressive and self-induced relaxation training: their relative effects on subjective and autonomic arousal to fearful stimuli.


Compared progressive relaxation training (PRT), self-induced relaxation training (SRT), and a rest quietly (RQ) control condition on measures of tonic physiological arousal and phasic physiological and subjective reactions to fearful stimuli. The Mutilation Anxiety Questionnaire was used to identify 48 male and female participants for the two training assessment sessions. Evaluation of tonic reductions in sympathetic arousal indicated: In session one, PRT and SRT were equivalent; in session two, PRT was superior to SRT. Evaluation of subjective response to fearful stimuli favored PRT/SRT over RQ for low, moderately stressful stimuli; PRT was superior to SRT for the most stressful stimuli. An analysis of reported practice between sessions indicated a negative relationship between practice of relaxation skills and response to stressful tonic physiological arousal and attenuating subjective response to stressful stimuli. The interaction between the cognitive and physiological systems and its implication for therapy are discussed.

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