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In this episode, Dr. David Hanscom talks with Dr. Joshua Smyth about the nature and mechanisms for unwanted repetitive thought (URT) patterns. These are thought patterns that persist over time and can have a negative effect on a person’s health and psychology. Dr. Smyth explains that these thoughts often have lots of very emotional associations and can be very experiential / visual. Ironically because of this, trying to suppress them consciously typically just reinforces them. They can damage our health because they trigger the body’s threat response.
Joshua Smyth is a Distinguished Professor of Biobehavioral Health and of Medicine at Penn State and Hershey Medical Center and serves as Associate Director of Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI). Smyth is an internationally recognized expert on ambulatory assessment and intervention, with a focus on the interplay of stress, emotion, physiology and behavior in everyday life. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Smyth has served as an editorial referee for more than four dozen journals, served as Editor and Associate Editor for several journals, and has been active in Society leadership for the American Psychosomatic Society, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the Society for Ambulatory Assessment. Dr. Smyth has widely shared his research in interviews with ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, Newsweek, Time and the New York Times, among many others, and recently published (with James Pennebaker) a popular science book on expressive writing interventions. Finally, he is an active and engaged teacher, and has received numerous accolades and awards for teaching and mentoring of students and trainees.