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Phobic disorders are included in the diagnostic manuals (DSM
and ICD) within the category of `anxiety disorders', a group of
mental disorders that share the primary symptom of extreme
anxiety. Phobias are instances of irrational fears that produce a
conscious avoidance if the feared object or situation. Around
2.6% of the UK have a clinical phobia.
Examples of phobias:
Arachnophobia ­ fear of spiders
Acrophobia ­ the fear of heights
Mysophobia ­ the fear of germs or dirt…read more

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Characteristics of phobias
Emotional characteristics:
Fear is persistent and is likely to be excessive and
unreasonable. Which is coupled with feelings of anxiety and
panic. Fear is out of proportion to the actual danger posed.
Behavioural characteristics:
Avoidance is the immediate response. Avoidance interferes
significantly with the person's normal routine.
Cognitive characteristics:
Resistance to rational arguments.
Recognize their fear is irrational.…read more

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Behavioral approach to explaining phobias
The behavioural approach suggests that all behaviour is
learned as opposed to being inherited. Behaviourists believe
that we are born a blank state and we learn all our behaviours
and characteristics as we grow up.
Behaviourists try to explain the development of phobias
through the two-process model. We develop the phobia
through classical conditioning. The phobia is then maintained
through operant conditioning.…read more

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Classical conditioning: initiation
Classical conditioning is learning through association.
Little Albert:
Albert's fear of loud bangs became associated with the white
rat. Initially he did not fear the white rat.
Therefore developing the phobia.
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS): loud bang
Unconditioned response (UCR): crying/fear
Conditioned stimulus (CS): white rat…read more

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Operant conditioning: maintenance
Through classical conditioning a phobia is acquired. However,
this does not explain why individuals continue to feel fearful
or why individuals avoid the feared object.
For example, a person may have had a fearful encounter with
a spider and have acquired a fear of spiders through classical
conditioning. Operant conditioning would them maintain this
phobia through negative reinforcement.
Stimulus: spider
Response: run away
Reward: relief/happiness…read more

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