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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Agoraphobia

Definition:
A fear of being in places or situations from which escape would be difficult.
 
Example:
An example would be an individual who avoids using all cars, buses, trains etc.. because he/she is afraid that escape from these would be hard. Another problem might include standing in line or being in a crowded situation.
 
Background:
Agoraphobia is one of the most common type of phobias cited by individuals seeking out psychological/psychiatric treatment. It is often conceptualised as a phobic disorder, but recent research suggests that it may be more related to panic disorders. It can, however, occur in the absence of a panic disorder. It is more common in women, and tends to begin in early adulthood. People who suffer from agoraphobia have lost their freedom-they essentially become prisoners in their own homes. They have significant difficulty holding on to their jobs, travelling, or carrying on normal daily activities because their fears have minimised their ability to function in the outside world.
 
Further Reading:

Noyes, R., Jr., Crowe, R. R., Harris, E. L., Hamura, B. J., & McChesney, C. M. (1986). Relationship between panic disorder and agoraphobia: A family study. Archives of General Psychiatry. 43, 227-232.

Carson, R. C., Butcher, J. N., & Coleman, J. C. (1988). Abnormal psychology and modern life. (8th ed.). Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company.

 
Related Terms:
Panic disorder

Phobic disorder

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 2-item self-test over this concept.

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