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Abreaction

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Updated October 31, 2012

Definition: An automatic, unconscious reaction that a person has in response to a stimulus which reminds the person of a situation they experienced before. As an example, consider a person who has been physically abused who responds to a raised hand by cringing even the though the other person's intent was to brush away a stray thread. Abreaction can also be used to describe the process a therapist uses to desensitize, or help the patient to stop having these automatic reactions. Within the safety of a therapy session, the patient can learn to replace the inappropriate reaction with one that is more suited to the situation.
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