Phobic disorders are included in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
3 types - Agoraphobia... Specific phobias... Social phobias.
A diagnosis of a phobic disorder is made if... There is no other possible physiological cause... or... if the symptoms cannot be better accounted for by another disorder.
To be classified as a phobia the individual must recognise that their behaviour is unreasonable.
The degree to which the person's functioning is impaired distingushes between a fear and a phobic disorder.
Types of phobias
Agoraphobia... The fear of being trapped in a public place/situation where escape may be embarrassing.
Specific phobias... Fears about specific objects or situations. e.g. heights, animals, flight, etc
Social phobias... Like extreme shyness - Fear of "performing" (speaking, eating, etc) in front of others. e.g. making a presentation.
Reliability and Validity
Skyre et al (1991)... assessed inter-rater reliability (IRR) for diagnosing social phobia... three clinicians assessed 54 patient interviews obtained using a structured interview... found high IRR (+0.72) proving that diagnosis of social phobias is reliable.