Claire Weekes

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Dr Claire Hazel Weekes (1903–1990) was an Australian general practitioner and health writer; she also had an early career as a research scientist working in the field of comparative reproduction. She continues to be noted for her books on dealing with anxiety problems along with nervous breakdown.

Weekes found that many of her patients suffered from anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia, panic attacks, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She avoided the use of the term "Nervous Breakdown" as she felt it was unscientific and unnecessarily alarming, and the term "Anxiety State" as it was too medical. She replaced them with the term "Nervous Illness." She was concerned by the severe long-term effect these had on her patients' lives and by the failure of psychiatric treatments such as psychoanalysis, that many had tried. She developed a program of treatment based on ideas from cognitive and behavioral psychology. She noted, for example that patients did not suffer from these problems because they had flawed personalities or traumatic childhoods. Rather, the problems were caused by the patient having a habit of fear-avoidance, made worse, or caused, by a very responsive "sensitized" nervous system.

She described in her books the three main pitfalls that lead to Nervous Illness. They are sensitization, bewilderment and fear. She explained that so much nervous illness is no more than severe sensitization...
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