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Different Ages of Onset in Varieties of Phobia
I. M. MARKS; M. G. GELDER
Am J Psychiatry 1966;123:218-221.
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Senior Registrar, The Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, S.E. 5, England

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, The Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, S.E. 5, England

1966-67, American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

One hundred and thirty-nine adult phobic patients presenting for treatment were subdivided into four groups with phobias of: I) animals and insects; II) specific situations (e.g., heights, thunder); III) social situations; and IV) agoraphobia.All four groups first sought treatment at comparable ages in adult life. However, the onset age of phobias differed between groups: hardly any phobias of animals and insects had started after age five, while most phobias of the other varieties started after age ten. This suggests a facilitatory period in early childhood for the acquisition of certain fears.This different onset age of animal phobias was accompanied by other differentiating features: circumscribed symptoms, continuous course, and a better response to behavior therapy despite longer duration of symptoms.

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