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In these clinical cases, as in other phobias, the more likely cause is a displacement of diffuse anxiety to an external focus which can be avoided.

I am wondering what this sentence could mean or what is the concept if it.

What is more, would you please in a more readily way show me what is meant by the word clinical cases?

And, really what does external focus mean there??

Extracted from the following; Psychopathology:

Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated

I cannot yet get the following:

the ... cause is a displacement of diffuse anxiety to an external focus which can be avoided.

UPDATED:Thanks. Yet, could anyone please show me the concept of the sentence through a vivd example?

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This sentence means that a person who has general unspecific anxiety ("diffuse anxiety") may subconsciously choose something specific to be afraid of (like spiders, for example), and they will then direct all of their previously undirected anxiety onto that external object, which they seek to avoid.

In other words, in those particular cases, specific phobias are thought to be a phobic person's attempt to cope with generalized anxiety.

A clinical case is a case that has been presented to a clinician.

Displacement is a shunting or redirection or transposition of some feeling onto another unrelated entity which thereby becomes associated, in the mind of the person, with that feeling.

  • There are many interpretations of what 'displacement' actually is, and i don't think any of them can be described as ' another unrelated entity' see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Displacement_%28psychology%29 – Paul Zahra May 15 '15 at 9:50
  • A commonplace example of displacement is anger-displacement, where a boy kicks his pet dog instead of expressing anger towards his father. Another is the displacement of sexual desire onto shoes in a fetish. There may be a "relation" of father to dog and woman to shoe in the subject's mind, but they're objectively different entities. That is what I meant by "unrelated". – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 15 '15 at 11:15
  • With regards to aggression, that makes sense. – Paul Zahra May 15 '15 at 11:18
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Good explanation of the anxiety and phobia relationship, @TRomano.

I will add that "clinical cases" here refers to the examples that I think were probably given in the previous paragraphs. They would have been examples taken from real life doctors' and psychologists' treatment experiences.

In the world of medicine and behavioral health, people talk about "clinical practice," which means that the practitioners, or clinicians, have built up years of experience applying their book knowledge on real people, and they acknowledge that this is an important tool in their toolbox.

"Clinical practice" comes from the idea that when a doctor is in training, s/he takes classes, and attends lectures, but also, at least half of what s/he gains from the training program comes from the practical experience gained treating patients in the clinic associated with the program, or in the hospital wards, as the case may be.

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Displacement meaning: "the transfer of an emotion from its original focus to another object, person, or situation. "

Diffuse meaning: "to spread or scatter widely or thinly"

...cause is a displacement of diffuse anxiety to an external focus which can be avoided.

e.g. if you feared having no money (a broadly focused anxiety), it could be transferred to a fear of being fired from your job (an external focus), which can be avoided by for example never working or being good at your job or by running your own company.

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In these clinical cases, as in other phobias, the more likely cause is a displacement of diffuse anxiety to an external focus which can be avoided.

It's uncommon, but possible for displace to take an object.

So the sentence is attempting to convey that "diffuse anxiety" is being displaced onto or into an external focus - a focus which can then be avoided. (Internally, the anxiety causes issues, but if projected onto an external focus, it can be avoided)

External focus probably means something visible or experiencible outside of the mind, i.e. an object or type of objects.

I believe redirection could be used instead of displacement and it would mean the same.

  • Thanks. Yet, could anyone please show me the concept of the sentence through a vivd example? – nima Apr 23 '15 at 6:21

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