Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Does Pavlov's Dog Have to Do with Agoraphobia?

Remember Pavlov's dog from psychology class. Just in case you missed it, this is the dog that salivated every time it heard a bell. This is because the owner (Psychologist, Ivan Pavlov) rang a bell just before feeding his dog so many times that the dog associated the bell with the food.

Well, some psychologists think that this process called "classical conditioning" accounts for the development of agoraphobia.

I read a journal article that supports this idea. This study found the presence of panic disorder and agoraphobia to be about 20% in heart patients with pacemakers (which is way above the normal population). When the patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia were interviewed, it seemed like they had been conditioned just like Pavlov's dog.

They got anxious about shocks from the pacemaker and later associated that anxiety with the places or situations they were in when they got shocked.

You can read more details about this study on My Agoraphobia Resource Center Wesite (see link on the sidebar).

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