Researchers may have proven Sigmund Freud's theory of unconscious conflict by identifying links between the notion and anxiety symptoms.
A study at the University of Michigan claims to have discovered a causal link between the psychoanalytic concept and conscious symptoms experienced by those with anxiety disorders, thus helping to connect Freud's work with modern neuroscience.
Emeritus professor Dr Howard Shervin investigated 11 people with anxiety disorders and subjected them to a series of psychoanalytically orientated diagnostic sessions. It was then inferred from the interviews when unconscious conflict could be causing the disorder.
Words deemed to capture the nature of each individual's unconscious conflict were then identified and used as stimuli in a laboratory, both subliminally and supraliminally.
It was found that the stimuli, when interspersed with control stimuli, caused patients to group unconscious conflict stimuli together when presented subliminally. While conscious symptom-related stimuli exhibited the reverse pattern.
If proven in a larger study, the findings could hold serious ramifications for the treatment and prevention of anxiety disorders.
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