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Phobic disorders Clinical Characteristics A phobic disorder involves extreme persistent and irrational fear with lack of control which is strongly out of proportion with the danger The feared situations are avoided or responded to with great anxiety Possibly recurrent unexpected panic attacks Individual recognises the fear experienced is excessive The phobic reactions interfere significantly with the individuals working or social life Exposure to the feared stimulus nearly always produces a high level of anxiety Diagnosis With panic attacks substance abuse should be ruled out as a cause Categories Agoraphobia - Fear of open spaces or public places Panic disorder starts first fear of having another attack makes the individual feel insecure Social Phobias - extreme concern about ones own behaviour and the reactions of others Specific phobias -eg zoophobias animals BIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF PHOBIC DISORDERS Genetic Twin Studies Torgersen 1983 - 31 concordance for panic disorder with agoraphobia in MZ twins versus zero concordance in DZ twins None of the MZ twins shared the same phobias Family studies Solyom et al 1974 - 45 of phobic patients had a family history of the disorder compared with 17 of normal controls Ost 1989 - 64 of blood phobics had at least one close relative who also suffered from it Evaluation Related individuals may acquire phobias through imitation Genetic explanations suggest that some individuals are predisposed to form phobias but life experiences are important too Biological preparedness - Selligman 1971 People have an innate predisposition to develop certain fears Research evidence De Silva 1988 - 88 phobic patients in Sri Lanka tended to exhibit biologically based fears Evaluation Cant explain fears of harmless situations or things such as slugs PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF PHOBIC DISORDERS Psychodynamic Freud 1909 - phobias arise when anxieties are displaced on to the phobic object Symbolises initial conflict If conflict is resolvedthe phobia disappears Research evidence Case study - Little Hans Freud 1909 suggested
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