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They tend to be fairly anxious people and on hearing uncertain news, they imagine the worst possible outcome. If a catastrophiser is told something inconclusive, they look for a way to feel in control again immediately. They learn to choose the worst possible outcome because it allows for the greatest sense of relief when they are reassured.
Catastrophisers rush to external sources to calm themselves down: matching symptoms online to obtain a diagnosis and treatment options; asking a professional to tell them that they will survive etc. Once they are reassured, they feel better – in psychological jargon, they have “rewarded” this seeking behaviour.
But this way to alleviate anxiety offers only temporary relief.
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