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Chapter 6

Psychology 46-228 Chapter 6: Notes on Phobia and PTSD

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P. 146-164 Specific Phobia  Specific Phobia  an irrational fear of a specific object of situation that markedly interferes with an individual's ability to function  Four major subtypes of specific phobia: animal type, natural environment type (ex. heights, storms, and water), blood-injection-injury type, and situational type (ex. planes, elevators, or enclosed places)  and a 5th type "other"  Blood-injection-injury phobia  Unreasonable fear and avoidance of exposure to blood, injury, or the possibility of an injection (victims experience fainting and increased in blood pressure and heart rate)  Situational phobias  fear of public transportation or enclosed places  Natural environment phobias  fear of situations of events occurring in nature (ex. heights, storms, and water) o Seem to cluster together: you fear water, then you're likely to fear storms too  Animal phobia  fears of animals and insects (might avoid reading magazines for fear of coming across a picture of animals)  Other phobias: illness phobia  fear of contracting a disease and go to excessive lengths to avoid exposure to that disease  Separation Anxiety Disorder  a child's unrealistic and persistent worry that something will happen to his parents or important people in his life, or something will happen that separates him from his parents (ex. he will be lost, or hurt in an accident) o Child refuses to go to school or to leave home, not because of fear of school, but because of separation from his loved ones  Specific fears occur in a majority of people; percentage is very high, making specific phobia one of the most common psychological disorders  In common fears, sex ratio is overwhelmingly female Causes  The idea that most specific phobias began with an unusual traumatic event is wrong; but not saying traumatic conditioning experiences don't result in phobic behaviour  Observing someone experience severe fear, or being told about danger  Things have to occur to develop a phobia: o Traumatic conditioning experience plays a role (and being told of it) o Fear is more likely to develop if we are "prepared" (we tend to worry)  Tendency for phobias to run in families: genes or modelling? Treatment  Specific phobias require structured and consistent exposure-based exercises  Single day-long treatment  can treat blood-injection-injury  Virtual reality exposure therapy  putting phobic patients into an environment that simulates their real-world feared situation o Effective in phobias of heights, spiders, flying, and small spaces Social Phobia  Social phobia  fear of any situation where person might have to interact with people (ex. public speaking  most common)  13.3% experience social phobia at some point in their lives in USA  Sex ratio favours females; but people appearing in clinics is 50-50 Causes  Inherited genes  Behavioural inhibition  Social phobia are possible because: o Inherit a generalized biological vulnerability to developing anxiety o When under stress, person might have an unexpected panic attack (false alarm) o Someone might experience a real social trauma resulting in a true alarm Treatment  Cognitive-behavioural group therapy (CBGT)  rehearse or role-playing their socially phobic situations in front of one another  Exposure-based rehearsal more effective than CBGT  Drugs (antidepressants) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  PTSD  emotional disorder that follows a trauma (exposure to a traumatic event when one feels fear, helplessness, or horror o Re-experience the event through memories and nightmares; flashbacks o Avoiding reminders of the event  Acute PTSD  can be diagnosed between one and three months after the event occurs  Chronic PTSD  when PTSD continues longer than three months  7.8% have experienced PTSD among the population  Combat and sexual assault are the most common traumas  Cause: o someone personally experiences a trauma and develops a disorder (Whether or not the person develops a disorder = unknown) o Anxiety sensitivity o Social and cultural factors
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