Can phobias be cured?

Phobias often result from a single traumatic experience, such as being chased by a dog as a child. The person tends to avoid the thing they're scared of, so the phobia persists. Phobias can be cured by gradually helping the person to confront the situation they are afraid of. These programmes used to take weeks, or even months. But new research suggests that some phobias can be overcome far more quickly.

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People may overcome their phobias by gradually confronting the thing they're afraid of.

What are complex phobias?

Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces or busy public places (literally a 'fear of market places'). Some people are so badly affected they become housebound. Claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces, like crowded trains or lifts. Social phobia is a fear of embarrassing yourself in front of other people - at parties, or when eating or speaking in public, for example. Agoraphobia affects twice as many women as men, whereas social phobia affects men and women almost equally.

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Agoraphobia, a fear of public or open spaces, is one of the most common phobias.


Principal Funder:

Wellcome trust

Major Sponsors:

GlaxoSmithKline life technologies