By John Papajohn

ISBN-10: 0313309302

ISBN-13: 9780313309304

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These changes consisted of increased anxiety in two specific situations—driving on major highways and performing in front of large audiences. On the highway he became increasingly tense, expecting to be hit from the rear when traveling at high speeds. He feared that his tenseness would cause him to slam on his brakes suddenly and make it impossible for a car behind him to stop in time to avoid hitting him. He began to drive in the far right-hand lane and at speeds of only forty-five to fifty miles an hour.

Michael is a tall, dark-complected, athletically built man in his late thirties, with strong, angular facial features. He relates in an open, honest, and forthright manner. In meeting him, one does not distinguish any characteristics, physical or social, that IRISH-AMERICAN CULTURE 19 would characterize him as a hyphenated American. His name certainly does not reflect it, and chances are he would not characterize himself as such unless asked directly. He has arrived at his current station in life after a long and arduous journey of self-discovery, both in psychotherapy and in his own independent efforts to understand himself and to take control of his life.

4 In a series of therapeutic sessions, I addressed Michael’s symptoms through the application of desensitization techniques. The first involved direct exposure to the traumatic event through the use of imagery. I taught Michael to visualize (with his eyes closed) the scene on the highway where he was almost killed. He was able to put himself back into that situation vividly by first learning to visualize scenes systematically, employing all sensory modalities. 5 Michael experienced high levels of anxiety when he succeeded in constructing an authentic image of the accident on the highway.

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The Hyphenated American: The Hidden Injuries of Culture by John Papajohn


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