Introduction to Phobias
Pathological or Abnormal fear
Pathological means a diagnosed disease or condition, therefore the condition is outlined in DSM- IV or ICD- 10.
Anxiety is a diagnosed abnormal fear.
- General Anxiety Disorders (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Phobic disorders
Characteristics of Anxiety Disorders (AO1)
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental disorders in the Western culture.
- Kessler et al (2005) propose that approximately 18% of individuals will experience some form of anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
Fear and stress are normal, it is the loss of control which causes a problem (interference with daily life.)
Anxiety Disorders are classed under neurosis. (Intense distress that patients know is not healthy but cannot control)
Being scared and feeling fear is not the same as a phobia.
A phobia is abnormal and diagnosed.
A fear turns into a phobia when a persons life becomes disrupted because of the fear.
A Phobia can be defined as ‘an excessive, unreasonable, persistent fear triggered by a specific object or situation’. (Neale, 2008)
Phobias are therefore irrational and rarely disappear without treatment.
-Approximately 6% of the population have them
-They aren’t psychotic as the sufferer is aware that their fear is unreasonable.
Issues of Classifying and Diagnosing Phobic Disorders
The purpose of Psychology is to help people, therefore classifying and diagnosing someone has to be beneficial for it to be worthwhile.
Validity: refers to the extent that a diagnosis represents something that is real and distinct from other disorders, and the extent that a classification system measures what it claims to measure.
Comorbidity: an issue with the validity of diagnosis. It refers to the extent that two or more conditions co-occur. (High comorbidity is negative.)
Kendler et al (1993) found high levels of comorbidity between social, animal phobias, GAD and depression. (Anxiety disorder and depression.)
Further support comes from Eysenck (1997). They reported that up to 66% of patients with one anxiety disorder are also diagnosed with another.
This research shows that perhaps it isn’t useful to diagnose individual disorders but perhaps better to diagnose a ‘anxiety disorder’.
Vassey and Dadds (2001) reported that treatment success of anxiety disorders was unrelated to the original diagnosis of a specific phobia. The same treatments worked equally well, meaning that its pointless to make specific phobia diagnosis as it may be useless to pinpoint the disorder and aim to treat it when there could be a more general solution.
Concurrent Validity: establishes the value of a new measure of phobic symptoms by correlating it with an existing one.
Herbert et al (1991) established the concurrent validity of the Social Phobia Anxiety Inventory by giving the test and various other measures to 23 phobics. It correlated well with the other…