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Resolution, habit reversal and atopic eczema

author/source: drB



Attitude is a dimension of some importance for success with any attempt to change behaviour. Attitude, or mental set, links to belief, conviction, expectation and, crucially, will-power. All need to be appropriate and in place when we are learning something new.

Habit reversal is the behaviour modification technique that is central to The Combined Approach to atopic eczema. When Norén and Melin [1986] first used habit reversal for this purpose they decided on fist-clenching as an appropriate competing response, to replace habitual scratching - the new behaviour makes scratching impossible. If this new response is practised in the place of scratching it can become the new habit. Then the skin can heal, and the desired goal is achieved.

What has recently been reported is that fist-clenching also has an independent quality that was not appreciated when it was first introduced into the management of eczema. Psychologists have now found that muscle-tightening can increase willpower. Fist-clenching is not only symbolic of striving for success. It seems to have a positive effect on the process itself.

Researchers report clenching fists, and similar flexing of our muscles, can be associated with successful resolve, from tolerating pain, to making charitable donations - but only when the goals of the behaviour are desirable to the person involved. If you are intent on shedding some weight, try clenching your fists when you are offered the next cookie - it’s not only effective as a competing response”.

"Steely muscles can lead to steely resolve".

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