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Explaining Phobias

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Explaining Phobia

Beverly Freeman


April 15, 2013


The concerns of this paper will be in explaining phobias as in the fear of dogs is the topic.

The fear of dogs is just one phobia that an individual can have. There is the fear of heights, horses, water (drowning), needles, spiders, death, and germs, flying, and closed in spaces.

The concerns will help explain the principles of operational, classical, and observational learning. Learning the different types of behavioral theories helps in the understanding of the types of stages. Understanding the phobias from the cause to a cure will even be a concern.

Explaining Phobia

Sally is a 23-year-old woman who has a severe phobia of dogs. She has had this phobia since she had a negative experience with dogs when she was in the second grade. She goes out of her way to avoid dogs and places that dogs may be. This causes her to experience anxiety when she meets someone new and is invited to an unfamiliar area.

Psychoanalytic Theory

According to Freud's theory, phobias are anxiety reactions of the id that have been repressed by the ego. The currently feared object is not the original subject of the fear (Fritscher, 2008 para. 1).

"A dog phobia is simply an irrational fear although to the individual, having a phobia such as this is far from being irrational. Depending on the type of phobia, the degree of the problem, and the individual, physical symptoms might appear such as feeling dizzy, nauseated, screaming, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or even freezing up in fear. The one problem with a phobia is when people experience an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety" (2006).

"For some people this kind of problem is more of an annoyance but in some cases, the phobia is literally debilitating. When a dog phobia is severe, professional help is usually needed to learn coping techniques. If the dog phobia is disrupting life and consuming every thought, it is time to seek help. Obviously, no person deserves to live with such intense and disabling fear. Instead of running to the car, avoiding parks, moving to the opposite side of the street, or taking other actions to avoid being near a dog, people can learn how to take back control of life" (10 Most Common Phobias, 2006 para 3).

"The most common type of treatment for a dog phobia is with behavioral-cognitive therapy. Most often referred to as "systematic desensitization" or "exposure therapy," people have a high success rate. This particular type of therapy for treating a dog phobia is highly effective, helping approximately 75% of people who go through it. Of course, the therapist needs to be licensed and qualified to provide therapy of this type specific to a dog phobia" (10 Most Common Phobias, 2006 para 4).

"By using behavioral-cognitive therapy for a dog phobia, the individual would be exposed to a situation involving a dog but in a very controlled setting. By using gradual steps, the person would slowly become more familiar and comfortable with dogs, which then leads to full recovery. For instance, the first step would start with drawing a picture of a dog on a piece of paper. The person would also be required to read specific books about dogs, watch dog DVDs, and look at photographs" (10 Most Common Phobias, 2006 para. 4).

Treatment for a Dog Phobia

"The person with the dog phobia would be asked to look at a dog but from behind a closed window and after a little while, the window would be opened. The dog could be viewed from an open door, followed by the person looking at the dog from 20 feet away but outside, and eventually, having the dog handler walk to dog to about five feet of the person. Ultimately, the dog would be taken into a room with the person and then introduced face-to-face" (10 Most Common Phobias, 2006 para 3).

Through the process for dog phobia treatment, a handler would have control of the dog with a leash. This process helps an individual get over the phobia of dogs, which requires patience, focus, determination with help from a therapist.

Classical Conditioning

Ivan Pavlov describes classical conditioning as a subject comes to respond to a neutral stimulus as he would to another, nonneutral stimulus by learning to associate the two stimuli (SparkNotes Editors, 2005).

Phobia is an intense, irrational fear that impairs a person's ability to function normally or participate in normal activities. Using a phobia or anxiety situation and associating it with a pleasant stimulus can help the troubled person learn a new association for that problem (Weeks, 2013 para. 1).

Phobias may result from classical conditioning. For example, if someone has a near-drowning experience, he may become afraid of water in general (SparkNotes Editors, 2005).

Operant Conditioning

"B. F. Skinner began to study operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which responses come to be controlled by their consequences (SparkNotes Editors, 2005). Operant responses are often new responses.

Just as Pavlov's fame stems from his experiments with salivating dogs, Skinner's fame stems from his experiments


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