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Images of desire: Cognitive models of craving

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Cognitive modelling of phenomena in clinical practice allows the operationalisation of otherwise diffuse descriptive terms such as craving or flashbacks. This supports the empirical investigation of the clinical phenomena and the development of targeted treatment interventions. This paper focuses on the cognitive processes underpinning craving, which is recognised as a motivating experience in substance dependence. We use a high-level cognitive architecture, Interacting Cognitive Subsystems (ICS), to compare two theories of craving: Tiffany's theory, centred on the control of automated action schemata, and our own Elaborated Intrusion theory of craving. Data from a questionnaire study of the subjective aspects of everyday desires experienced by a large non-clinical population are presented. Both the data and the high-level modelling support the central claim of the Elaborated Intrusion theory that imagery is a key element of craving, providing the subjective experience and mediating much of the associated disruption of concurrent cognition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Sheffield, UK 2: University of Queensland, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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