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Cognitive defusion and self-relevant negative thoughts: examining the impact of a ninety year old technique
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Cognitive defusion techniques are designed to reduce the functions of thoughts by altering the context in which they occur, rather than the attempting to alter the form, frequency, or situational sensitivity of the thoughts themselves. Applied technologies designed to produce cognitive defusion seem to lead to reductions in the believability of negative thoughts, but defusion techniques are generally only parts of complex packages and the role of defusion techniques per se is note yet known. The present study examined the impact of a cognitive defusion technique first described by Titchener nearly 90 years ago: rapidly repeating a single word. In series of eight single-case alternating treatment designs, this defusion technique was compared to a distraction task, and to a thought control task on reductions in the discomfort and believability of self-relevant negative thoughts. The cognitive defusion technique reduced both discomfort and believability more so than the comparison approaches. Control studies showed that the effect was probably not due to demand characteristics. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.