Emotional Resilience Blog from The Fear Course

The latest research, realisations and thinking in the world of emotional resilience, anxiety and fear reduction from around the world.

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The 1 Thing That Predicts If You Will Get General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

It is now generally accepted by professionals that people who suffer from GAD (General Anxiety Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder) tend to get into such a situation because they have been unwittingly engaging in what are termed 'maladaptive coping strategies'.

In other words people with GAD tend to have been using coping techniques to life in general and anxiety in particular, which actually end up making their situation worse. I have reported in previous blogs for example the role avoidance has in strengthening anxiety. It has been found for example that distraction and avoidance techniques used by some therapists can at first mask and then later exacerbate GAD.

A study just published by colleagues at the Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, in Canada has added considerably to our understanding of GAD and what contributes to the onset or creation of this disorder.

The researchers looked at the extent to which 217 people were able to tolerate distress, particularly distress emanating from what are considered to be the 6 prime trigger experiences for distress in humans:

  1. Uncertainty
  2. Negative emotions
  3. Ambiguity
  4. Frustration
  5. Physical discomfort, and
  6. The perceived consequences of anxiety

They then measured the subjects for symptoms of GAD and found that GAD sufferers were significantly less likely to be able to tolerate distress from each of the six prime trigger experiences than other people, including people with depression. In effect what they found was that a lack of tolerance for distress is a prime indicator for the development of GAD. This is not the case for depression.

Further they discovered that the level of tolerance an individual has for physical discomfort can be used as a sole predictor for whether or not an individual is likely to end up with GAD.

Whilst the study in itself is interesting, it does provide further insight into therapeutic interventions which can most effectively help GAD sufferers. Building emotional resilience is a key part of the process of recovery from GAD.




MacDonald, E.M. etal (2014) An Examination of Distress Intolerance in Undergraduate Students High in Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Journal of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Oct 2014 DOI: 10.1080/16506073.2014.964303

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Can you catch anxiety from your family?

Can you catch anxiety from your family?

Have your parents contributed to your anxiety and fear without even knowing about it?

If you can catch anxiety from your parents and it is genetic - can you do anything about it or are you just stuck with it?

FREE Live Online Seminar

Wednesday 1st October 2014

19.00 (7pm) UK - 20.00 (8pm) CET - 14.00 (2pm) EDT - 11.00 (11am) PDT - 04.00 (4am) AEST

On the 1st October 2014 I will be holding a free live online seminar looking at what the latest research, much of it only published this year, has to tell us about whether or not anxiety is hereditary and what you can do about it.

There are only 100 places available worldwide on this free, live 'no jargon' seminar. Click Here to Book Your Place

Book your free place now



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Posted by on in Fear Course
Is Anxiety Hereditary?

Is Anxiety Hereditary?

FREE Live Online Seminar

Wednesday 1st October 2014

19.00 (7pm) UK - 20.00 (8pm) CET - 14.00 (2pm) EDT - 11.00 (11am) PDT - 04.00 (4am) AEST


On the 1st October 2014 I will be holding a free live online seminar looking at what the latest research, much of it only published this year, has to tell us about whether or not anxiety is hereditary.

There are only 200 places available worldwide on this free, live 'no jargon' seminar. Book your place now before it fills up.


Is Anxiety Hereditary - Free Seminar

What people have said about previous seminars:

"Brilliant seminar - Thank you"

"David has a way of putting things over that make it really interesting and understandable"

"I can't believe you provided this for free"

"I really enjoyed the webinar. Thank you"

"Wow. That was really, really interesting"


"It's amazing to have a world class university lecturer live and available to answer your questions and for free! Thank you so much"

"I just wish I could be one of your students in Oxford. They are very lucky"

"I wish my teachers had taught with such humanity, clarity and passion as David does"

Book your place now


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Is it better to have a high EQ or a high IQ? New research.

Is it better to have a high EQ or a high IQ?


An intriguing study from Switzerland has just been published looking at the effects of IQ (Intelligence) and EI (Emotional Intelligence) on how others perceive and evaluate us. Just because you have a high IQ does not mean you will have a high EI and vice versa.

Anyway the study from the University of Lucerne looked at whether people would evaluate people with high IQ better than people with a high EI during a presentation task.
What the study found was that when doing presentations individuals low in IQ but high in EI performed as well (were evaluated by strangers as highly) as the high IQ individuals. In effect people with high EI tend to be able to compensate and level the playing field, during initial evaluation of their performance compared with people with higher IQ's.




Fiori, M (2014) Emotional intelligence compensates for low IQ and boosts low emotionality individuals in a self-presentation task. Personality and Individual Differences. Sept.2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.08.013



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What Causes Social Anxiety? New Research

Social anxiety is one of the most frequent and debilitating anxieties around. The effects range from mild discomfort in social situations to full scale avoidance of and panic attacks during social events and even phobic responses such as agoraphobia. A series of research studies examining this common series of anxieties have found that people who have at some stage in their life been a victim of bullying, criticism and or rejection in any situation are significantly more likely to develop a social anxiety compared to the rest of the population.
Indeed the definition of a social anxiety centres around the fear of scrutiny or negative evaluation/judgement by others. This usually results in people having the feeling that they are not good enough for other people, and/or the assumption that others will automatically reject them and includes often intense feelings of insecurity in a wide range of situations.

It is estimated that about 1 in 5 or 20% of the population suffer from some form of social anxiety. This can be a severely debilitating and distressing disorder for the sufferer which can have massive negative effects on the quality of life of the sufferer and as a result I pay particular attention to research in this area. A student at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Klint Fung has just gained his Masters this month with an interesting series of experiments which helps us to understand a bit more about social anxiety.

What Fung did was get a group of 88 people and initially test them for their level of social anxiety. He then subjected them to an experimental social event where they would be either rejected (rarely interacted with) or included (frequently positively interacted with) in the activity of the event. All the participants were then invited to a second social event.
The research found that rejection or inclusion from just one event had a significant effect on the anxiety the individuals felt towards and during the second event. Importantly it was discovered that virtually all of the anxiety experienced stemmed from the hurt feelings induced during the first event.

It would appear and is backed up by other research that how hurt we feel following an incident can then predict how sensitive we are likely to be to the possibility of future exclusion especially when this is interpreted as rejection by the individual.

What this and other pieces of research shows is that treatment which helps to reduce sensitivity to exclusion and helps the individual to regulate their own emotions (prevent the hurt feelings) is likely to be most effective. Certainly from my experience the development of emotion regulation techniques coupled with cognitive reappraisal (both strategies I teach) have a significant impact on social anxiety disorders.
Indeed one client I finished with this week went from agoraphobic (unable to leave the house due to social anxiety) to returning to work in 16 days.

On Wednesday 3rd September I will be running a live online seminar about 'How We Catch Fear and Anxiety'. Click here for more details.

Free Live Seminar - How we catch Fear and anxiety - September 3rd

Fung, K. (2014) How does rejection induce social anxiety? A test of hurt feelings as a mechanism. University of British Columbia - Masters Thesis August 2014.

Levinson, C. A., Langer, J. K., & Rodebaugh, T. L. (2013). Reactivity to exclusion prospectively predicts social anxiety symptoms in young adults. Behavior Therapy, 44(3), 470-478.

Lissek, S., Levenson, J., Biggs, A. L., Johnson, L. L., Ameli, R., Pine, D. S., & Grillon, C. (2008). Elevated fear conditioning to socially relevant unconditioned stimuli in social anxiety disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(1), 124-132.

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A simple way to help with exam nerves - new research

Researchers from Universities in the Netherlands and Australia have just published an interesting paper reporting on a series of experiments they conducted on school children taking exams.

One of the big problems that anxiety causes during exams is that it degrades performance significantly. In particular it it uses up valuable processing power in the brain, particularly in the areas used for working memory, which is a vital component especially during tests. We use the working memory to store short term information whilst we are working things out during an exam.

The researchers tested the hypothesis that if the students simply read through all of the questions before starting to answer anything, this would in effect reduce some of the anticipatory anxiety and as a consequence lower the loading on the working memory. The result of this should be more 'space' for problem solving and therefore better results.

The researchers showed the method of reading through all of the questions before putting pen to paper to 50% of a group of 117 students, chosen at random before a real exam. Those students that did read through the exam paper first performed significantly better than those that didn't. Additionally the students who carried out the tactic reported lower levels of anxiety during the exam compared to those that didn't.
Interestingly this tactic worked regardless of the level of anxiety the student was experiencing before the exam.

I have a free live webinar you can join next Wednesday all about the latest research on How We Catch Fear and Anxiety. Click here to find out more and book a free place.


Free Online Seminar - How We Catch Fear And Anxiety



Mavilidi, M., & Hoogerheide, V (2014) A Quick and Easy Strategy to Reduce Test Anxiety and Enhance Test Performance. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 1099-0720 August 2014 DOI: 10.1002/acp.3058


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Ever Have a Fear or Anxiety and Not Known How You Got It?

Do you have, or have ever had a fear or anxiety and not known how you ended up with it?

On Wednesday 3rd September 2014 I will be running a free live online seminar at:

19.00 / 7pm BST - UK time (20.00/8pm CET (Paris) - 14.00/2pm EDT (New York) - 11.00/11am PDT (Los Angeles))


How We Catch Fear And Anxiety And What To Do About It

I will be sharing the very latest research with you on how we catch fear and anxiety and what you can do to deal with it.

There will also be time for questions and answers after the seminar.

As many of you know I lecture at a number of universities including Oxford, however don't worry; The seminar will be 100% jargon free and easily understandable.

I can only fit 200 people on this live seminar and once its full, I'm afraid that's it.

So if you want to book a place Click Here. It's totally free.


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