ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 2, 127-145, 2012
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Sensory Imagery in Craving: From Cognitive Psychology to New Treatments for Addiction

Jackie Andrade (a), Jon May (a), David Kavanagh (b)
(a) School of Psychology, University of Plymouth
(b) School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 127-145

Sensory imagery is a powerful tool for inducing craving because it is a key component of the cognitive system that underpins human motivation. The role of sensory imagery in motivation is explained by Elaborated Intrusion (EI) theory. Imagery plays an important role in motivation because it conveys the emotional qualities of the desired event, mimicking anticipated pleasure or relief, and continual elaboration of the imagery ensures that the target stays in mind. We argue that craving is a conscious state, intervening between unconscious triggers and consumption, and summarise evidence that interfering with sensory imagery can weaken cravings. We argue that treatments for addiction can be enhanced by the application of EI theory to maintain motivation, and assist in the management of craving in high-risk situations.

Table of Contents
Elaborated Intrusion theory
 Craving as a conscious state
  Unconscious triggers lead to conscious intrusive thoughts
  Motivation is sustained by imagery-based elaboration of thoughts
  Imagery favours temptation over abstinence
 Automatic and controlled cognitive processes in addiction
Clues to tackling craving imagery
Functional Decision Making: An imagery-based intervention
 Thought acceptance and mindfulness
 Future directions for craving interventions

Correspondence to
Professor Jackie Andrade, School of Psychology University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, UK, PL4 8AA.

Craving, substance use disorder, mental imagery, Elaborated Intrusion theory, Functional Decision Making, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, working memory, implementation intentions, drug dependence

Received 4 Mar 2011; Revised 12 Aug 2011; Accepted 22 Sep 2011; In Press 23 Apr 2012

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