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Phobias
· A phobia is defined as `a persistent and unreasonable fear of a particular
object, activity or situation'.
· The typical symptoms of a phobia are:
­ Intense irrational feelings of fear and anxiety, which may lead to a panic
attack;
­ Avoidance behaviour, where the person may engage in extreme and
complicated behaviours in order to avoid the object or situation that
causes panic attacks
­ Phobias may have a gradual onset or may happen very quickly as a
result of a particular experience
· Phobias typically last for a number of years, with a duration over 20 years in
some cases.
· For some people, phobias may start from a general anxiety or panic attack
that does not have an apparent cause.…read more

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Agoraphobia
· Agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces.
· People who suffer from agoraphobia usually have an intense fear of going
into busy supermarkets, shopping centres and high streets.
· Studies by Barlow in 2002 showed that people usually develop agoraphobia
from having severe panic attacks which they did not expect to happen.
· A person who has this usually wants to be in a safe place so that the attack
can be coped with better and the level of anxiety reduced.
· People who suffer from panic attacks worry greatly about another one
happening and therefore they do not place themselves in a public place
where escape and retreat to safety are difficult to achieve.
· The person then engages in avoidance behaviour, which results in staying
at home, not going outside and becoming fearful at the simple thought of
going out.…read more

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Social Phobia
· Comer defines a social phobia as `a severe and persistent fear of social or
performance situations in which embarrassment may occur'.
· A social phobia is fear of being judged by other and/or the fear of intense
overwhelming feelings of embarrassment about performing in front of
people.
· According to Sue, social phobias may be of three types:
­ performance ­ anxiety about performing in public
­ interaction ­ anxiety about going out on a date or interacting with a person of
high status
­ generalised ­ anxiety in any situation where other people are present
· The specific fears that social phobics report are to do with fear of criticism,
fear of being in front of people, fear of blushing in front of others, fear of
making mistakes and fear of the consequences of being assertive.…read more

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Specific Phobias
· A specific phobia can have almost anything as its objects.
· These can include anything such as spiders, beards, fur, sleep, odours.
· Ost studied over 300 patients with a range of specific phobias and found the
fear of animals tended to start in the child about the age of seven years.
· Fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia) started much later, around the late
teens.
· Recent studies done my Muris and Merckelbach showed that many children
between the ages of five and ten years have a specific phobia.
· Many of these specific phobias either disappear of exist very mildly when
the child enters adolescence.…read more

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Biological Explanations for Phobias
· Agoraphobia has been shown to have some genetic basis.
· The most well-developed and researched biological explanation of
biological explanations for phobia is the idea of preparedness.
· The claim here is that humans have a genetic predisposition to develop
certain fears and certain phobias.
· It is argued certain types of phobias are more common than others and
have a biological basis which is concerned with survival of the organism.
· The phobias typically referred to here are fear of spiders, fear of heights,
fear of darkness, fear of strangers and fear of open spaces.
· The idea of preparedness states that human beings are physiologically and
genetically `prepared' or biologically ready to acquire certain phobias and
not others.…read more

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