Anxiety Depression Treatment

Phobic Disorders


Phobic disorders have been recognized since antiquity, but the first systematic medical study of these conditions was probably that of Le Camus in the eighteenth century (Errera 1962). The early nineteenth century classifications assigned phobias to the group of monomanias, which were disorders of thinking rather than emotion.

However, when Westphal (1872) first described agoraphobia, he emphasized the importance of anxiety in the condition. Later, in 1895, Freud divided phobias into two groups: common phobias, in which there was an exaggerated fear of something that is commonly feared (for example, darkness or high places), and specific phobias, that is, fears of situations riot feared by healthy people, such as open spaces (Freud 1895a, pp.13 5-6). As explained later, the term specific phobia now has a rather different meaning.

In the 1960s, the different responses of certain phobias to behavioural methods suggested a grouping into simple phobias, social phobia, and agoraphobia, and these groups were found to differ also in their age of onset.

Simple phobias generally begin in childhood, social phobia in late adolescence, and agoraphobia in early adult life (Marks and Gelder 1966). At about the same time, it was observed that when phobias were accompanied by marked panic attacks, they responded poorly to behaviour therapy and better to imipramine (Klein 1964). These cases were subsequently classified separately under the rubric of panic disorder. This led to the present scheme of classification into generalized anxiety disorder, phobic anxiety disorder (simple, social, and agoraphobic), and panic disorder.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have, or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.