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At a hospital I work in (as a new psychiatry trainee), some admitted patients - especially those with conversion disorder - are made by psychologists to:

  • Stop meeting their friends or family
  • Spend the entire day in isolation on their beds
  • Only eat simple (but not aversive) food such as bread with milk.

This treatment lasts for weeks. They call it "extinction therapy". However, in attempts of finding scientific evidence relating to this practice, I looked it up online and couldn't find any references to "extinction therapy".

My question is: Is the above psychological management a known and named concept? If so, what is it called?

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In my recent graduate school psychology training, no therapy of this type was ever mentioned. In fact, conversion disorders are under some scrutiny because, in at least 33% of cases, an organic cause eventually is discerned. Medscape on conversion disorders In-patient treatment is uncommon these days, and most modern psychological treatment includes increasing social support, activating the patient with exercise and meaningful activity. I would be concerned about the nutritional and, more seriously, the emotional impact of this unusual form of "treatment". BTW, Extinction, as a therapy, usually refers to a phobia treatment with relaxation training and progressive exposure to the feared stimulus.

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