Phobic disorder or neurosis

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Phobias are neurotic states accompanied by intense dread of certain objects or situations that would not normally have such an effect. This type of anxiety is associated with a strong desire to avoid the dreaded object or situation. About six per 1,000 of the population suffer from a phobic disorder. There is a tendency for phobic symptoms, whatever their nature, to persist for many years unless treated, and the avoidance behaviour they produce can seriously limit the affected individual's movements and his social or occupational functioning. People can have phobias about many different kinds of objects or situations, but three main divisions of phobic syndromes are made by the DSM-III: simple phobia, agoraphobia, and social phobia. Individuals with simple phobias may intensely fear a specific object or situation, for example, cats or thunderstorms; they have anxious thoughts upon anticipating contact with an object or event, for instance, upon hearing the weather forecast, and they try to avoid the object, as in staying indoors in order not to encounter a cat. Typically, agoraphobic patients have an intense fear of being alone in or being unable to escape from a public place or some other setting outside the home, such as a crowded bus or a supermarket. A social phobia is present when the individual has extreme anxiety in a social situation where he is under the scrutiny of others, such as eating in a restaurant or speaking at a meeting. The treatment of phobic disorders is best approached by the use of behavioral therapy; dynamic psychotherapy and antianxiety drugs may be effective in some cases.

mental disorder. (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.

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