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Mind

Still 'Profiteering From Anxiety'

NeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticFebruary 7, 2013 8:23 AM

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Late last year, the excellent Neurobonkers blog covered a case of 'Profiteering from anxiety'. It seems one Nader Amir has applied for a patent on the psychological technique of 'Attentional Retraining', a method designed to treat anxiety and other emotional problems by conditioning the mind to unconsciously pay more attention to positive things and ignore unpleasant stuff. For just $139.99, you can have a crack at modifying your unconscious with the help of Amir's Cognitive Retraining Technologies. It's a clever idea... but hardly a new one. As Neurobonkers said, research on these kinds of methods had been going on for years before Amir came on the scene. In a comment, Prof. Colin MacLeod (who's been researching this stuff for over 20 years) argued that "I do not believe that a US patent granted to Prof Amir for the attentional bias modification approach would withstand challenge." Well, in an interesting turn of events,

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Amir has issued just Corrections (1,2) to two of his papers

. Both of the articles reported that retraining was an effective treatment for anxiety; but in both cases he now reveals that there was

an error...in the article a disclosure should have been noted that Nader Amir is the co-founder of a company that markets anxiety relief products.

Omitting to declare a conflict of interest... how unfortunate. Still, it's an easy mistake to make: when you're focused on doing unbiased, objective, original research, as Amir doubtless was, such mundane matters are the last thing you tend to pay attention to.

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Amir, N., and Taylor, C. (2013). Correction to Amir and Taylor (2012). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81 (1), 74-74 DOI: 10.1037/a0031156

Amir, N., Taylor, C., and Donohue, M. (2013). Correction to Amir et al. (2011). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81 (1), 112-112 DOI: 10.1037/a0031157

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