The Relaxation Response: Psychophysiologic Aspects and Clinical Applications

Herbert Benson, M.D., Martha M. Greenwood, A.B., Helen Klemchuk, A.B.
The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine

It is hypothesized that situations requiring continuous behavioral adjustment activate an integrated, hypothalamic response, the emergency reaction. The frequent elicitation of the physiologic changes associated with the emergency reaction has been implicated in the development of diseases such as hypertension. Prevention and treatment of these diseases may be through the use of the relaxation response, an integrated hypothalamic response whose physiologic changes appear to be the counterpart of the emergency reaction. This article describes the basic elements of techniques which elicit the relaxation response and discusses the results of clinical investigations which employ the relaxation response as a therapeutic intervention.

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