Outline the clinical charecteristics of phobic disorders essay (5)

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Outline the clinical characteristics of phobic disorders (5)
The clinical characteristics of phobic disorders refer to the symptoms individuals' exhibit
when they encounter their phobia. These characteristics are listed in the DSM, and are based on
expert psychiatric research.
The clinical characteristics of phobic disorders are that the fear is severe enough to interfere
with everyday life. For instance, someone who is afraid of social situations might stop going to work
school or even out of the house because they are scared that they would have to engage in some
sort of a social situation. The fear is intense, persistent and irrational; it makes no sense to other
people, and unlike other psychological disorders the individual is aware of the fact that they have a
problem and that it is irrational. This could be like having a phobia of mirrors or of staying single,
which seems really unreasonable to other people but to the person with the phobia it is a really big
Another clinical characteristic is to have a disproportionate response to the feared object,
situation or event which in future leads to avoidance of that particular event, object or situation. For
example if someone has a fear of dogs, they won't walk down streets where they have encountered
dogs before in case they encounter the dog again. They would do this even if it meant that they have
to walk for longer to their home or school. However in cases where the individual has to endure the
phobia they do so with great distress, i.e. if someone has a phobia of spiders, if a spider was placed
in front of them and they were unable to remove themselves from the situation they would be very
A common clinical characteristic of phobic disorders is to have an anxiety response towards
the feared object, event or situation. An individual scared of heights will show symptoms of anxiety
such as dilated pupils, increased heart and breathing rate; they might be sweating and shaking as
well. For example someone who is scared of rain might display these symptoms of anxiety if they
get caught outside while it's raining.
The most distinguishing feature of phobic disorders, differentiating it from other mental
health problems is that the individual with the phobia realises that they have a problem, The can
understand that their fear is unreasonable and abnormal. They also recognise that their fear
response is disproportional and that it seems irrational to other people. This can be seen in people
with phobias when they talk about them, they will admit to feeling "silly" and "embarrassed" about
their phobias. In the case of arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, it is illogical to fear spiders when
they can't pose any actual threat to a human being.


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