• synonyms


[dee-sen-si-tuh-zey-shuh n]
  1. the act or process of desensitizing.
  2. Physiology, Medicine/Medical. the elimination or reduction of natural or acquired reactivity or sensitivity to an external stimulus, as an allergen.
  3. Psychiatry. a behavior modification technique, used especially in treating phobias, in which panic or other undesirable emotional response to a given stimulus is reduced or extinguished, especially by repeated exposure to that stimulus.
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Origin of desensitization

First recorded in 1920–25; desensitize + -ation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for desensitization

Historical Examples

  • Anxiety is offset by means of desensitization, assertiveness training, and sex therapy.

    When You Don't Know Where to Turn

    Steven J. Bartlett

  • Dr. Cantwell decided to use a combination of desensitization and assertiveness training with Anne.

  • We have already briefly discussed them in Chapter 12 in connection with desensitization.

  • As the basis for desensitization, deep relaxation is used to inhibit anxiety.

  • Desensitization is normally used in the context of individual therapy.

desensitization in Medicine


  1. The reduction or abolition of allergic sensitivity or reactions to a specific allergen.antianaphylaxis
  2. The mitigation of an individual's emotional response to a distressing stimulus by repeated exposure to or imagination of that stimulus.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.