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Diagnosis of phobias
Classified in the DSM within the category of anxiety disorder; a
phobia is an irrational fear which causes excessive avoidance of a
feared object or situation.
The three types of phobia
1) Specific phobia
This is of an object or a situation e.g. spider, flying and injections,
this is the most common type of phobia. There is a criteria set out
by DSM.
1. Marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable
2.…read more

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Third is an extreme shyness and extreme fear of social situations,
being put in these situations can induce panic attacks.
Issues surrounding the classification and
diagnosis of phobic disorders
This refers to the consistency of a measuring instrument, such as a
scale to access fear ratings. Reliability can be measured in terms of
whether two independent assessors give similar scores (inter-rater
reliability), or whether the test is likely to produce the same results
on two separate occassions (test-retest reliability).…read more

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Kendler et al 1999 used face-to-face and telephone interviews to
assess indivduals with phobias. Over a one-month interval
(test-retest) they found a mean agreement of only +46, which is
fairly low. The long term reliability (8 years) was even lower, at +30.
Kindler et al suggest the reason for the low reliability found In their
study could be due to participants' poor recall of their fears. For
example, people tend to over-exaggerate fears when recalling
precious distress.…read more

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Throughout their stay, none of the staff recognised that they were
normal, although the genuine patients had their suspicions. In a
follow up study Rosenhan warned that he would be sending more
fake patients the hospitals way and they had to figure out which
patients they were.
Cultural differences in diagnosis
There is different idea about what is considered normal functioning
and normal fears within a cultural context, this means that diagnosis
of phobias will vary.…read more

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When expressed through a
phobia the anxiety is displaced into a feared object or situation,
therefore the individual cannot express their real repressed fear so
they develop a phobia.
Little Hans
Freud originally based his concept of his explanation of phobias to
explain a young boy's fear of horses.…read more

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The reason may be that
stricter parenting may lead to children having to repress desire,
thus supporting the psychodynamic explanation.
Further support comes from the fact that therapies that target the
phobia alone e.g. systematic desensitisation do not have a 100%
success rate (because they are not curing the underlying repressed
The behavioural approach proposes that phobias are acquired
through classical or operant conditioning. Watson and Rayner
(1920) sought to provide experimental evidence that fear could be
learned in this way.…read more

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Some psychologists think that the acquisition of phobias is a
two-step process. The first stage is classical conditioning. The second
stage is operant conditioning whereby avoiding the phobic stimulus
is reinforcing because it greatly relieves anxiety.
So avoiding dogs makes the person feel much better, relieving their
fear and anxiety. This behaviour then becomes positively
reinforcing; Operant conditioning has occurred.
Some psychologists have found that people with phobias can often
recall a specific incident.…read more

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Research has found that People with low self-esteem are more
likely to develop a phobia (not necessarily a social phobia). However
one problem with this approach is that the direction of causality
can't be established, so you can't conclude that the irrational
thoughts are a cause or symptom of the phobia
Biological explanations of phobias
Propositions of the biological explanation of phobias
o We have an evolutionary predisposition to fear what posed a
danger to our ancestors.…read more

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Solyom et al ­ studied 47 phobic disorders found that a family
history of psychiatric disorder was in 45% of the cases, 30% of their
mothers had a phobia in contrast to only 19% in families of
non-phobic control group of patients.
Noyes et al ­ found a higher than normal rate of agoraphobia
(11.6%) and panic disorder (17.3%) in first degree relatives, using
the family interview method.…read more



Clearly laid out and well organised. Really easy to understanding, so thanks!

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