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50 Years Ago

Science Past from the issue of August 27, 1960

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CAT PHOBIA TREATMENT — [A] patient was cured of cat phobia by forcing herself to handle velvet until she got used to it. The patient, a 37-year-old married woman ...  had had a fear of cats as long as she could remember.... The therapist began ... [with] what she felt was the least objectionable idea associated with cats — their fur.... [First he used] velvet, which has some of the texture of cat fur. Gradually the patient progressed until she could be comfortable with a rabbit-fur glove .... The psychologist then picked out a live kitten with a mild disposition and gave it to the patient, who laughed and cried as she accepted it. She explained later that she wept because of the relief of having done something she thought impossible for her.

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