Michael J. Prince, B.A., Psychology


Stress Autogenic Training

Return to main page

Michael J. Prince, B.A., Psychology

Making a Journal

Making a Journal of Eating Disorder is an essential treatment tool. It records what is happening while it is happening and these thoughts and perceptions can later be shared with your therapist or friend. Your journal can include your stress & anxiety management information as well.

Each binge and purge attack is preceded by an antecedent event which is usually subtle and thus more difficult to detect and alter. The antecedent (from a behavioral point of view) aquires it's influence because of it's association with certain consequences. For example, the binge/purge attack was most likey preceded by a triggering device (a reason to binge), and "all" of these triggers must be identified so the therapist can help you. Behind the idea of the antecedent is the expected end-reward or consequences. For example the antecedent may have been guilt and the binge/purge relieved that guilt, even though the practice was unhealthy to your mind as a reinforcement and harmful to your body. Obviously, removing the antecedent leads to changing behavior and end to binge and purge cycle. While it is painful, it is important to list all of these antedecents that you know exist and deal with them, because they are not going away and they leave you vulnerable to future attacks.

Try to describe the binge/purge event as best you can by using the "who, what, when, where, why and how" method. Just list these out in order on your paper and fill in the blanks. You can also use the journal to form a list of questions you may have for the therapist, or stressors you identifed during your day and how you can deal with them.

Autogenic Relaxation

An interesting aspect of hypnosis is the ability to hypnotize ourselves, or Autohypnosis. When you listen to a stress reducing relaxation tape, most likely it is based on autohypnosis. While hypnosis such as Freud used is becoming a lost art, the only thing that has changed is the scientific names to identify the practice and the benefits derived. With autohypnosis or (autogenics) and with practice the body can be relieved from stress. There is only a slight difference between autohypnosis (autogenics) and meditation. Meditation requires the mind to focus upon something repetitive like mantra or something unchanging like a spot on the wall. Some people find this a boring practice and prefer autogenic training's of moving from part to part on their bodies using imagery to relax the mind. An important part of autogenics, once the training becomes second nature, is the ability to focus on a chosen symbol anywhere you at, and relieve stress. To summarize, autogenic training is a relaxtion technique that uses exercises to bring about the sensations of warmth and heaviness in the limbs and torso and then uses relaxating images to expand phsyical relaxation to the mind. Autogenic means self-generating, or a procedure you do to yourself.

Physiological Effects

The physiological effects of autogenic training are similar to those of other relaxation techniques that elicit the "trophotropic response." The heart rate, respiratory rate, muscle tension, and serum cholesterol level all decrease. Alpha brain waves and blood flow has led to success with autogenics in treating Raynaud's disease sufferers, who have a deficient supply of blood from from their extremities. In an addition, migrain headache sufferers and insomniacs have benefitted from autogenic training, and as has those with high blood pressure. Others report success with an increase in alpha brain waves, a sign of mental relaxation, occurred as a result of autogenics. Autogenics can be used to reduced anxiety, depression, decrease tiredness, and build resistance to stress. (Keefe et al. 1980; Taub 1977; Silver 1979; Blanchard 1978; Kamiya 1978; lamott 1974)

Autogenic training exercises should be done under the care of a trained therapist familiar with the technics. When used in this manner it may take from several months to one year to become proficient. WARNINGThese relaxation types of tapes are not to be used while driving, operating machinery and several other situations requiring alert attention.

Just about anybody can practice autogenics and receive benefits from it's treatment if continued.


  • High motivaton and cooperation on the part of the trainee
  • A resonable degree of trainee self-direction and self-control
  • Maintenance of particular body posture conducive to success
  • Reduction of external stimuli to a minimum, and mental focusing on endopsychic processes to the exclusion of the external environment
  • presence of a monotonous input into the various sensory receptors
  • Concentrated deployment of attention on the somatic processes in order to effect an inward focusing of consciousness
  • Given these conditions, the occurrence of an overpowering, reflexive psychic reorganization
  • The occurrence of disassociative and autonomous mental processes, leading to an alteration of ego functioning and dissolution of ego boundaries

Six Initial Stages of Autogenic Training

  • Focus on sensations of heaviness throughout the arms and legs (start with dominate arm/leg)
  • Focus on sensations of warmth throughout the arms and legs.
  • Focus on sensations of warmth and heaviness in the area of the heart
  • Focus on breathing
  • Focus on sensations of warmth in the abdomen
  • Focus on sensations of coolness in the forehead

    With practice and experience it should only take a few moments to heaviness and warmth in your limbs, a relaxed heart and respiratory rate, a warm abdomen, and a coolness in the forehead. If you associate a symbol to these relaxing sessions you can just think of it during your daily routine and your body will respond to the stress.

    Return to main page

<BGSOUND SRC="http://dsm4.tripod.ca/music/aranjuez.mid" LOOP="10">