Essay, Research Paper: Claustrophobia


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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 Claustrophobia 2 Fear of Restriction and
Suffocation 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. Claustrophobia 3
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. Claustrophobia 4 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. Claustrophobia 5 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. Claustrophobia 6 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)
Claustrophobia 8 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 Claustrophobia 9 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.
Claustrophobia 10 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.

BibliographyBooth, 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) 239-246. 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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