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Chapter 6

PSYC 305 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Social Anxiety Disorder

Course Code
PSYC 305
Laura Hanson

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Chapter 6 – Panic, Anxiety, Obsessions, and Their Disorders
Anxiety: A general feeling of apprehension about possible future danger
Fear: An alarm reaction that occurs in response to immediate danger
Anxiety can cause medical conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease,
and irritable bowel syndrome
18% of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder in a 12-month period
Obsessions: Persistent and highly recurrent intrusive thoughts or images
that are experienced as disturbing and inappropriate
Compulsions: Repetitive behaviours that the person feels must be
performed in response to the obsession
Historically, anxiety and OCD were considered neurotic disorders
Neurotic Disorders: Maladaptive and self-defeating behaviours that are not
incoherent, dangerous, or out of touch with reality
To Freud, anxiety was a product of inner conflict
Term “neurosis” was dropped from the DSM in 1980
Fear and Anxiety Response Patterns
Never really been an agreement on how distinct the two emotions of fear
and anxiety are from each other
Most common way of distinguishing between the two is whether or not the
danger is clear and obvious (fear)
Some say fear is a basic emotion (shared by many animals) that involves
activation of the “fight-or-flight” response of the autonomic nervous system
Adaptive because it is a primitive alarm to imminent danger
Panic Attack: When the fear response occurs in the absence of external
danger spontaneously
Panic attacks have similar symptoms of fear but their often accompanied
by a sense of impending doom
Fear and panic attacks have 3 components:
1. Cognitive and subjective components (I feel afraid; I’m going to die)
2. Physiological components (increased heart rate, heavy breathing)
3. Behaviour components (a strong urge to flee)
Anxiety is a blend of unpleasant emotions and cognitions that is both more
oriented to the future and more diffuse than fear
Same components as fear:
1. Cognitive/Subjective (negative mood, worry about future dangers)
2. Physiological (state of tension and chronic over arousal)
3. Behavioural (strong tendency to avoid situations where danger
might occur)
May be adaptive because it helps us plan and prepare for possible threats
Maladaptive when it becomes chronic and severe

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Sometimes anxiety is conditioned (ex: Angela’s father used to beat her
mother in the evening, after a few times she started getting anxious when
she heard her fathers car pull up in the driveway – dad coming home was
previously a neutral stimuli but it became the conditioned stimuli)
Overview of the Anxiety Disorders and Their Commonalities
Anxiety disorders all have unrealistic, irrational fears or anxieties of
disabling intensity as their principal and most obvious manifestation
Disorders in DSM-5 are:
1. Specific Phobia
2. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
3. Panic Disorder
4. Agoraphobia
5. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Limbic system and certain parts of the cortex are most centrally involved
in most disorders
Norepinephrine, GABA, and serotonin are most involved neurotransmitters
in anxiety disorders
Causal Factors:
1. Classical conditioning
2. People who have perceptions of a lack of control over their
environment or emotions
3. The social environment one is raised in
4. The sociocultural environment one is raised in
Most powerful treatment seems to be exposure therapy
Phobia: A persistent and disproportionate fear of some specific object or
situation that presents little or no actual dangers, yet leads to a great deal
of avoidance of feared situations
Three main categories of phobias:
1. Specific
2. Social
3. Agoraphobia
Specific Phobias
Specific Phobia: A strong and persistent fear that is triggered by the
presence of a specific object or situation
Blood-injection-injury phobia is a common specific phobia
Effects 3-4% of population
Usually experience more disgust than fear
Show dramatic drop in heart rate and blood pressure rather than
the normal rise
Experience nausea, dizziness, or fainting which doesn’t occur in
other specific phobias

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Unique response pattern by have evolved because if you faint
when being attacked you could inhibit further attack, and the drop in
blood pressure minimizes blood loss
Highly heritable phobia
Prevalence, Age of Onset, and Gender Differences
12% prevalence rate of specific phobias
Over 75% among people with a specific phobia have at least one that is
More common in women than men
Psychological Causal Factors
Psychoanalytic Viewpoint
Phobias represent a defense against anxiety that stems from repressed
impulses from the id
Too dangerous to “know” the repressed id impulse, so the anxiety is
displaced onto some external object or situation that has a symbolic
relation to the real object of anxiety
Criticized for being too speculative
Phobias as Learned Behaviour
A lot of theorists in the 60’s thought phobias were acquired through
classical conditioning
Also assumed that when you had one phobia, you would generalize it to
other things
Most people cite their phobias to traumatic incidents
Vicarious Conditioning
Watching a phobic person behaving fearfully with his or her phobic
object can be distressing to the observer and result in fear being
transmitted from one person to another
Observational classic conditioning
Lab-reared monkey’s learned to be afraid of snakes watching
monkey’s from the wild be afraid of them
Individual Differences in Learning
Some life experiences may make certain people more vulnerable to
phobias than others and other experiences may serve as protective
factors to phobias as well
Getting bit by a dog after having a loved family pet that’s always
been kind and cuddly will make you less like to develop a full blown
dog phobia
Conditions in which the experience occurs can determine the level
of fear that is conditioned
Or thoughts can also maintain phobias once they have been
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