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The trouble with language: Experiential avoidance, rules, and the nature of verbal events
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Experiential avoidance is the attempt to escape or avoid certain private experiences, such as particular feelings, memories, behavioral predispositions, or thoughts. In this article, we discuss evidence that experiential avoidance is both pervasive and often harmful to human functioning. We argue that experiential avoidance can be explained by two verbal processes, and we provide basic behavioral evidence on both: the bidirectionality of derived stimulus relations in verbal humans and the insensitivity to the effects of responding produced by verbal rules. If this analysis is correct, experiential avoidance is built into human language and thus can be undermined only with difficulty.