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Psychopathology.

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Introduction

Psychopathology - Key Assessment c. Phobias. 1. An introduction to the disorder. Normally both fear and anxiety can be helpful, helping us to avoid dangerous situations, making us alert and giving us the motivation to deal with problems. However, if the feelings become too strong or go for too long, they can stop us from doing the things we want to and can make our lives miserable. A phobia is a fear of particular situations or things that are not dangerous and which most people do not find troublesome. Most common phobias are found in the following three categories Specific, Social and Agoraphobia. Specific phobia is characterized by extreme fear of an object or situation that is not harmful under general conditions. There are four major subtypes of specific phobias - animal type, situational type (planes, lifts, and enclosed spaces), natural environment (heights, storms, water) and blood-injection-injury type. Social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person has significant anxiety and discomfort related to a fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or scorned by others in social or performance situations. Even when they manage to confront this fear, persons with social phobia usually feel very anxious before the event/outing, feel intensely uncomfortable throughout the event/outing and have lingering unpleasant feelings after the event/outing. Social phobia frequently occurs with public speaking, meeting people, dealing with authority figures, eating in public and using public restrooms. ...read more.

Middle

This study supports the genetic explanations for phobias. Neurological theories are based on the functioning of the automatic nervous system. Research indicates that people who develop phobias are those who generally maintain a high level of psychological arousal which makes them particularly sensitive to their external environment. This suggests an interaction between arousal and conditioning, but the question is whether high arousal levels are the cause of the consequence of the phobia. Asso and Beech (1975) favour the former argument suggesting that a high level of physiological arousal make it easier to acquire a conditioned response. However, Lader and Mathews (1968) found that high levels of arousal are more significant in the cases of agoraphobia and social phobia, where as conditioning is more significant in the case of specific phobias. The principle strands of the behavioural model are classical conditioning, operant conditioning, social learning theory and Rotter's control of events theory. Classical conditioning refers to certain stimuli eliciting reflexive, involuntary responses. Referring back to Pavlov's dog study and Watson and Rayner's (1920) 'Little Albert study'. Classical conditioning might explain phobic reactions in the following way. If a stimulus, such as narrowly avoiding a car accident triggers a panic attack response (feeling uneasy and afraid). This may generalise into a phobia of travelling by car. Hans Eysenck (1970) attempted to link anxiety disorders such as phobias to personality dimensions. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the other hand, it may not be clear at all why a particular person feels anxious, because it is due to a mixture of their personality, the things that have happened to them, or life-changes such as pregnancy. Object and social phobias are intense and characteristically irrational fears about an object that is unlikely to pose any physical threat, or an event or situation from which nothing dangerous is likely to occur. Phobia sufferers feel compelled to avoid or escape from their phobic-object situation or event. No single explanation has been found for this, and the effectiveness of treatments varies. According to Beck, people with phobias have a belief system where by they know at a rational level that danger is minimal, yet they so truly believe that their fear object or situation will cause them physical or psychological. Beck and colleagues (1985) also found that people with phobias are more preoccupied with their fear of fear than the actual object or situation it self. Williams et al (1997) examined this concept by subjecting people with agoraphobia to hierarchy of increasingly scary tasks, supported Beck et al in that participants statements which were tape recorded were mainly a preoccupation with their current anxiety rather than their safety. However, it may be that their danger thoughts were simply not expressed out loud. Even in situation where there is a good outcome, people with phobias tend to view the out come in a negative way. (Walice and Alden 1997). ...read more.

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