Does Claustrophobia Cause People to Deviate from Confined Areas?References
Does Claustrophobia cause people to deviate from confined areas? The independent variable is claustrophobia, and the dependent variable is the confined areas. Our hypothesis to this question is yes claustrophobia can be cured and reduced by cognitive behavioral therapy. The issue of claustrophobia is very important due to its impact on an individuals everyday life, since it affects a number of individuals throughout the world. A phobia is an anxiety disorder that is shown by an irrational fear of confined spaces.
This phobia can cause a person to stay away form confined spaces such as a crowded store, sporting and social events, as well as elevators that could bring on this irrational fear. In society this can cause a person not to take part in certain events. This phobia can also lead to the interference with riding on public transportation such as a plane, train, bus or subway. In this our findings will be evident by the research provided.
Each of these specific statements below, will help draw a conclusion about claustrophobia:
1) Fear of Restriction and Suffocation
2) The Reduction of Claustrophobia(Part 1)
3) The Reduction of Claustrophobia (Part 2)
4) Virtual Reality Treatment of Claustrophobia
Claustrophobic fear is a combination of the fear of suffocation and the fear of confinement. The view on this topic is supported from the responses from a questionnaire done before, during, and after a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan was performed. Patients who successfully completed a MRI scan found they experienced fear of confinement not suffocation. These MRI scans were done in long narrow cylindrical chambers, which are dark and restrictive as well as noisy. Although you are not in a sealed chamber, you can literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some other chambers that were used in other experiments were enclosed, and restrictive which leads the patient to believe that there is the possibility of suffocation.
This study was performed over a three-week period on an outpatient basis at two teaching hospitals. There were seventy-eight people involved in this study, twenty-three males, mean average 51.61 years (S.D.=20.0), as well as fifty-five females, mean age 45.67 years (S.D.=15.3). They collected research data on three different occasions using the F.S.S. (fear survey schedule) and the D.A.S.S. (depression, anxiety, and stress scale), one week prior to the MRI scan, the day of the MRI scan, and one month after the MRI scan. The patients who filled out a questionnaire one week prior to the MRI scan answered questions concerning the characteristics of depression, anxiety, stress, confinement and suffocation. The patients who filled out a questionnaire immediately after the MRI scan answered questions concerning their experience, did they complete or not complete the MRI scan, their willingness to undergo a further scan, and the history of previous MRI scans.
The patients who filled out a questionnaire one month after the MRI scan filled out the same questionnaire as the one prior to the MRI scan. The results of this MRI scan study proved that patients who had failed to complete their MRI scan experienced an increase in the claustrophobic fear since they left during the MRI scan while their fears were high, which reinforced these patients from escaping from a similar situation in the future. It has been found that patients who have these MRI scans may develop conditions of anxiety such as claustrophobia and panic attacks. The patients who complete the MRI scan successfully reduced their fear of confined places in the future. It was also found that the patients exposed to a confined situation without the possibility of suffocation were only concerned with the fear on confinement, but had no effect on the fear of suffocation. To get the best results for the treatment of claustrophobia you need to address the fear of restriction as well as the fear of suffocation in a cognitive- behavioral program.
The Reduction of Claustrophobia (Part1)
Many people suffer form claustrophobia, whether they have panic attacks in small confined rooms or in large crowds. They suffer from this disorder on a daily basis. To try and prevent these panic attacks they try to avoid small areas. People shouldn’t have to alter their life styles because of something they have no control over. So psychologists put together a study to find ways to reduce the degree of panic attacks, Claustrophobia was selected as the target in this clinical experiment because it is a common fear with puzzling aspects. In claustrophobia it is relatively easy to induce fear and this provides a degree of experimental control that can be put to their advantage.
Forty-eight participants were selected from the community after extensive advertising in local radio and newspapers. The publicity stressed: A) that the focus of the study would be on the fear of small enclosed spaces, although fears of larger spaces, such as aircraft’s or shopping malls might also be evident. B) Those participants would be trained over three visits in a particular coping strategy, C) that this was a research study, in which participants neither paid nor were paid; and D) confidentiality was assured.
The assessment was made up of three sets of dependent measures that were given at different intervals throughout the study. A summary of these measures and the intervals at which they were administered is presented in Table 1 (Boot 209-10)
Anxiety Sensitivity is defined as “ an individual difference variable consisting of the belief that the experience of anxiety causes illness, embarrassment, or additional anxiety.” Anxiety sensitivity is likely to have important consequences, including motivation to avoid anxiety- provoking stimuli, but its importance in this study is that it is considered likely to increase alertness to stimuli signaling the possibility of becoming nervous.
Subjects used in this test where placed in two different sized rooms. One the size of a standard closet and the other a file room. In the larger room, the subject was placed in for two minutes with the lights out. Subjects also had the ability to ring for the experimenter. In the smaller room, the subject was there in the dark, the door locked and no way to get help. The walls were sound proof so yelling was not an option.
The reason for the two different rooms was to increase anxiety levels in the smaller room. The results proved that by placing the subjects in the first room, the larger of the two, and then the smaller one, the subjects had high increases of anxiety levels.
A major finding was that a purely cognitive procedure did reduce both reported fear and panic, and lead to more confident predictions of a second enclosed space, in relation to a control group. The group of subjects that discussed their fears and the experiment prior to participating allowed them to calmly flow through the experiment.
The Reduction of Claustrophobia (Part2)
A clinical experiment comparing methods of fear reduction in claustrophobia was used as the basis between a number of cognitive variables and the reduction of claustrophobia. The material for this analysis was collected during the course of the clinical experiment in which a comparison was made between three methods for reducing fear: cognitive intervention, repeated exposure, and interceptive retraining.(Shafran, 75)
Repeated exposure to a claustrophobic situation was followed by a steep reduction in fear and comparable reduction was observed after cognitive intervention without exposure. The negative cognition’s thought to be liable for or at least involved in claustrophobia can be virtually removed by direct modification (cognitive intervention) or by indirect modification (exposure). The declines were as large as with the theory of cognitive therapy. The absence was of any difference in cognitive changes seemingly produced by the two different methods raises again the uncomfortable possibility that the cognitive changes observed after successful fear reduction may be the consequences rather than the cause of change, or possibly that the cognitive changes are more correlates of fear. (Rachman, 75)
When dealing with fear many questions need to be examined. Are negative cognition’s associated with fear? Are negative cognition’s associated with the return of fear? The results of the pattern imply that the number of the believability of cognitions are related to the successful reduction of fear. The results also imply that a close
relationship between a number and the believability of cognition’s return of fear. There was however, an absence or pre-determined association between cognitions and fear. (Shafran 83)
The reduction of fear was related to a reduction of body sensations. The return of fear was also related to a return on body sensations. The return of fear was not consistently affected by speed of fear reduction and could not be predicted by initial levels of heart rate recordings. Return fear was associated with the under- prediction. (Shafran 83)
The post-test zero was never described in the presence of believable cognition’s and body sensations. Shafran’s reporting an absence of cognition’s post-test did not describe high fear levels with the exception of three individuals who reported moderate fear. High fear or panic was never described in the absence of believable cognitions and body sensations.(Shafran 83)
Exploitation of individual cognition’s and body sensations revealed that removal of the control cognition concerning “trapped”, “suffocation”, or “control” , was related with an absence of believable cognition’s and fear reduction. Specifically, the removal of the cognition’s “trapped” and “suffocation” at post-test was related with the absence of all other believable cognition’s and a seventy-two point decrease in fear.(Shafran 83)
The question of the association between fear reduction and cognition’s was examined in different ways; all the answers were in fact consistent with a key cognition complex in claustrophobia involving feelings of being trapped, suffocation, and loss of control. (Shafran 83)
Virtual Reality Treatment of Claustrophobia
This research deals with the effectiveness of the treatment for claustrophobia by using Virtual Reality. The patient for this test is a forty-three year old woman who suffers from clinical significant distress and impairment. She had been referred by Mental Health Services because she was unable to undergo a CTS to detect whether or not she had a lesion on her spinal column. The woman had been afraid of enclosed spaces (i.e. elevators, airplanes) for many years, dating back to when she was a child.
The measures the doctors used to administer the test were based of six different scales. The first was called Fear and Avoidance Scale (FAS); it was based on a zero to ten scale. Zero being “no fear” or “I never avoid it” all the way up to ten being “Extreme fear” or “ I always avoid it”. The next was the Fear of Close Space Measures (FCSM); this is the scale for the degree of fear in closed spaces. This is ranged from zero to ten, zero being “no fear”, ten being “extreme fear”. There were three more tests that had to do with the zero to ten, they were Problem-related impairment questions (PRIQ), and Subjective units of discomfort scale (SUDS) and the attitude towards CTS measure (TAM). Lastly were the Self-efficacy tests towards the target behavior measure (SETBM), which assessed the degree of self- efficacy similar to the target problem CTS.
The eight sessions were carried out; the patient was placed in three environments based of their degrees of difficulty. The first environment was called Setting 0: It consisted of a balcony or a small garden, measured at 2 x 5 m. The second environment
was called Room 1: a 4 x 5 m room that had door and a big window that could be opened and closed. Finally, the last environment Room 2: a 3 x 3 m, which had no furniture or
windows. The ceiling and floors were much darker and had a wooden texture to give the idea that the room is even more enclosed. The patient at all times had the option to lock the door is she felt it necessary.
The results of the test were very significant and can be seen in the charts on the corresponding page. The woman at first did have some difficulty when she was tested with all the measures pre- virtual reality; she scored a 10 on the FAS, a 2 on the PRIQ, and a 4 on the SETBM. An 8 was also scored on the FCSM. During post treatment, the numbers dramatically decreased, most of the scores were in the lower range, which showed that the treatment had worked. Plus during the follow-up she still continued to show signs of improvement. Looking at Table 2, in the rooms, there you could see that the SUDS were much higher when the patient was exposed to a more threatening environment (For example, Room2: During sessions 4 and 5). Subsequently as each session passed, it decreased less and less. She found that the treatment was very successful and rated it an eight out of a possible ten. Most importantly she was able to have the CTS done without any difficulty. With more research like this, hopefully there can be a somewhat safe and effective way to help people over come this debilitating and complex anxiety disorder.
In conclusion, this paper has shown that claustrophobia does cause people to avoid confined areas. Each individual in these cases had their lives affected by this fear and with the proper treatment will be able to overcome it. With more cognitive and behavioral research, and those afflicted with this fear, claustrophobia can someday be a thing of the past. No longer will thousands have to suffer with this phobia, and maybe then they can go on with their lives and see the world in a whole different aspect, one with no anxiety and most of all no fear.
Booth, Richard; Rachman, S. (1992). The reduction of claustrophobia. Behavior
Research & Therapy, 30(3), 207-221
Botella, C, Banos; R.M. Perpina; C. Villa; H. Alcaniz; M. Rey; A. (1998) Virtual
Reality treatment of claustrophobia. Behavior Research & Therapy, 36(2)
Harris, Lynn M; Robinson; John Menzies; Ross G. (1999) Evidence for fear of
Suffocation as components of claustrophobia. Behavior Research &
Therapy, 37(2), 155-159
Shafran, R; Booth, R; Rachman, S. (1993). The reduction of claustrophobia.
Behavior Research& Therapy 31(5), 75-85
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