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ManyAk
10-26-2008, 04:38 AM
I'm looking for answers from people who work with mentally-illed people, but everyone is welcomed to help me.

Okay, so one of my characters has panphobia, which is basically the fear of everything because the subject doesn't know what he's afraid of exactly. For more information on panphobia, visit these links :
http://www.panphobia.com/things/monophobia.htm
http://www.null-hypothesis.co.uk/science//item/odd_phobias_panphobia_fear_everything


So here are the questions I need help with :

How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

What are the most usual behaviors and symptoms a panphobiac has?

Is it possible to cure it? If yes how, if no why not?

Are there any secondary effects, such as paranoia for exemple?

Will the victims of panphobia be sent to asylums eventually?

Thank you all in advance, help is appreciated.

Stlight
10-26-2008, 06:35 AM
How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

The answer to those questions depends on which school of psychology you follow. Some believe all disorders are bio-chemical, others believe they are caused by events such as abuse.

The first group believe in treating mostly with drugs and some therapy. The second group mostly with therapy and some drugs.

yes, I know what you're thinking and you're right.

So much for degrees.

ManyAk
10-26-2008, 06:49 AM
How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

The answer to those questions depends on which school of psychology you follow. Some believe all disorders are bio-chemical, others believe they are caused by events such as abuse.

The first group believe in treating mostly with drugs and some therapy. The second group mostly with therapy and some drugs.

yes, I know what you're thinking and you're right.

So much for degrees.

Do you know what kind of drugs they will use, and what type of therapy will the try?

reenkam
10-26-2008, 10:08 PM
Are you sure that panphobia is an accepted medical term?

If your MC doesn't know what he's afraid of but still thinks that there is something to be afraid of, that would probably be called paranoia or some kind of anxiety disorder. Phobias fall under anxiety disorders, as does panic disorder, social phobia (social anxiety disorder), agoraphobia, etc.

What about generalized anxiety disorder?

As far as I can tell, while panphobia is a word and could technically mean "fear of everything" if it's not listed in the DSM-IV-TR then it can't be officially diagnosed.

To answer some of your questions assuming it'd be an anxiety disorder:

How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

Depends on the school of psychology, as Stlight said. Usually, though, it seems to develop over some type, regardless of whether someone believes you were born with the genes for it or something happened to you to cause it, etc.

What are the most usual behaviors and symptoms a panphobiac has?

What do you mean by unusual? Someone with generalized anxiety disorder would find stress in the most mundane of activities and would be fidgity or worried much of the time they're doing things they're not comfortable with (which would be a lot of things). They might also have panic attacks...though, many of these things are more internalized and to others the person would probably just be seen to be "socially awkward" or something like that. Maybe lots of jumping or quick movements or talking quietly, etc.

Is it possible to cure it? If yes how, if no why not?

Depends on the person. Treatment, whether drugs or therapy or both, usually helps and some people get past it completely. Some people don't ever get past it and live with it. Usually, though, you can improve.

Are there any secondary effects, such as paranoia for exemple?

Secondary effects to what? Treatment? It'd depend on the kind.

Will the victims of panphobia be sent to asylums eventually?

I highly doubt it. Panic/anxiety disorders aren't as uncommon as you might think.


Now if the person suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, then the answers would be lightly different and that's a completely different type of disorder from anxiety disorders.

ManyAk
10-26-2008, 10:55 PM
By usual behaviors or symptoms, I meant : How would you recognize someone who has panphobia or any other disorder like that?

And I was asking for secondary effects of the illness itself, like, if panphobia would lead to paranoia.

Thanks a bunch though, help is appreciated.

JoniBGoode
11-03-2008, 03:43 AM
I'm looking for answers from people who work with mentally-illed people, but everyone is welcomed to help me.

Okay, so one of my characters has panphobia, which is basically the fear of everything because the subject doesn't know what he's afraid of exactly. For more information on panphobia, visit these links :
http://www.panphobia.com/things/monophobia.htm
http://www.null-hypothesis.co.uk/science//item/odd_phobias_panphobia_fear_everything


So here are the questions I need help with :

How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

Ignoring the whole nature vs. nurture question, and just focusing on the onset of symptoms: neither. Very few, if any, two-year-olds have phobias. Usually the symptoms come on gradually in adolesence or adulthood and worsen over a period of time. There is usually not a traumatic event that precipitates the phobia. (Partly because a phobia is an irrational fear. A rape victim who fears being raped again has a rational, not an irrational, fear.)


When there is a traumatic event, it may only be traumatic to the patient. A big dog barks at her, and scares her. Over the following months, she becomes more and more afraid of the dog. She begins to avoid that street, then that part of town. She becomes afraid of all dogs, big and little. She even avoids TV shows that have dogs. Finally, she will only drive her car on a few "safe" streets where she has never seen a dog.


The symptoms may not develop for weeks, months or years after the traumatic event. Or there may not be any traumatic event. The patient merely becomes more fearful for no apparant reason.

(Sometimes there is other stress in the patient's life that seems to contribute to this fear. Like, the patient's husband has an affair, and she develops the phobia afterwards. It's almost like the phobia is a distraction from the real issues. Sometimes.)

What are the most usual behaviors and symptoms a panphobiac has?

Actually, I think this would most likely be diagnosed as agoraphobia. Agoraphobics are afraid to leave their house, or in extreme cases, afraid to leave one room in their house. They may be afraid of a wide range of things (horses, cars, the sky, other people) but they usually know what they are afraid of.


I concur with the above poster. Technically, if it's not in the DSM-IV (and it's not) it's not a recognized, diagnosable mental illness. It might be lumped under "other anxiety disorders" or "other phobias." However, most people with a phobia are acutely, excruciatingly aware of what they fear. They can visualize the giant spider sucking their blood, or whatever.


It might also be diagnosed just as free-floating anxiety, an anxiety disorder.

Is it possible to cure it? If yes how, if no why not?

Yes. Most phobias can be successfully treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, including exposure. The therapist would work with the patient so that rationally, the patient knows that her fears are out of proportion to the actual risk. The therapist would gradually expose the patient to the feared object or situation, until the patient learned that nothing bad would happen. For example, the therapist would start by having the patient see a dog 100 yards away, briefly. Then work up to the patient being in the same room with a dog, or even petting a dog.


Many patients with anxiety disorders and phobias also respond well to medication, in conjunction with therapy. SSRIs like Prozac are useful in reducing anxiety.


"Cure" in this case means the patient is still afraid, but the fear is managable and doesn't interfere in her daily life or personal relationships. She is still afraid of dogs, but she'll go to a movie with a friend, even if there is a dog in it. She'll even visit a friend who has a dog. (Most of us have some fears.)

Are there any secondary effects, such as paranoia for exemple?

Probably not paranoia. Paranoia is the delusion that people are out to get you, often in a conspiracy. Phobias usually don't involve conspiracy. If I have a phobia, I might be afraid to drive on the highway...but that doesn't mean that I believe all the other drivers are out to kill me. Or that the highway hates me, and wants to kill me.


Phobias often occur in conjunction with each other. And patients with a phobia often develop other (related or unrelated) phobias. A patient who is afraid of dogs might become afraid of cats, or all animals, or humans.

Will the victims of panphobia be sent to asylums eventually?

Probably not. In the U. S., you are only committed to a state mental health facility if you are a danger to yourself or others. Patients with phobias are rarely suicidal, and they are rarely violent towards others.

As the other poster noted, phobias and anxiety disorder are not rare. You probably know several people who have them, even if they don't talk about it.


I suppose it's possible that the patient might see a dog in the hallway of her condo building, and try to climb out the 10th floor window to escape it. This could be viewed as an attempted suicide. She could be committed for a 3-day observation. But she is likely to be released after that, once the psychologist learns she is not suicidal.


"Asylum" doesn't really reflect the current state of mental health care, either. The patient might choose to admit herself to a mental health facility, if outpatient treatments had not been effective. She would only be kept a few weeks, until her insurance coverage ran out (unless she was very wealthy.) Often these are psych units in your local hospital, and since she is being voluntarily admitted, they may not even be locked.

Thank you all in advance, help is appreciated.

Full disclosure: I only have a B.S. in Psychology.

JoniBGoode
11-03-2008, 04:11 AM
By usual behaviors or symptoms, I meant : How would you recognize someone who has panphobia or any other disorder like that?

The link you supplied refers to a book on panic disorder -- a recognized type of anxiety disorder. It appears to me that the term panphobia is more of a marketing ploy for that website, rather than an actual condition. People with panic disorder are not "afraid of everything." They have panic attacks, which have physical symptoms that mimic heart attacks. They become short of breath, have heart palpitations and may have chest pains. People having panic attacks often call an ambulance to be rushed to the hospital, because they think they are having a heart attack.

Besides, this is just me, but I think a character with specific phobias is much more interesting than one who is vaguely afraid of "everything." Of course, if you disagree, you could invent a character with a new disorder: panphobia.


Google "panic disorder" for more info, if that is what you're referring to. People with panic disorder aren't afraid of everything...they are afraid of dying. When they become stressed or anxious, their heart pounds, their palms sweat (normal reactions) and they begin to fear they are dying. This causes more fear, which causes more symptoms, which causes more fear. Attacks usually last about 15 minutes or so. No one has ever died from one.

Many people with agoraphobia actually have panic disorder. They don't go outside, because they fear they will have a panic attack and die.

Most of what I said about phobias is true of panic disorder.

How would you know if someone had this? Well, you might not. Even if a close friend was having a panic attack, he or she might just look sweaty and excuse themselves to go to the restroom until it passed. Or, they might ask you to call an ambulance (because they believed they were having a heart attack.) But normally, unless the person tells you, friends and relatives never know a patient has phobias or panic disorder.

And I was asking for secondary effects of the illness itself, like, if panphobia would lead to paranoia.

Thanks a bunch though, help is appreciated.

You're welcome!

Rabe
11-08-2008, 08:31 AM
How would someone develop panphobia? Is it a disorder that's with you when you're born, or does something extremely shocking has to happen to you in order to get it?

Others have given opinions on this, but I thought I'd share personal experience.

I have OCD (or should that be CDO? In my case, yeah, actually it should). Granted, mine is a mild, non-drug manageable form of it. I didn't realize this until after May 2006 when I was in a car accident and wound up dying - several times. Coming back from that and the therapy/rehab/time off work afterward, little things would bother me a lot.

Such as the bags of M&Ms I had in my cupboard. Mint M&Ms left over from Xmas. I always buy a bunch during the holidays so that I can have them all year long. I also had a bunch of dark M&Ms because I was afraid the company wouldn't support them.

Suddenly, having all those colors together, in one place, mixed up became too much. I spent hours going through all the bags and separating them out. Then came other things. The cabinets had to be rearranged so that like foods were with like foods. Boxes lined up appropriately by size and everything else. I was 'diagnosed' in 2007 after having to go to therapy for unrelated issues. The psychologist was less than impressed when - while talking about other issues - I began separating out his candy dish. So many different varieties of candy all mixed together. I didn't realize what he was getting at everytime (and there were numerous) times he asked "Did you want some candy?" Because I never did. I just didn't want them all together.

In thinking about it, I figured it had something to do with the accident. However, further thought and thinking about it and I realized it's something I've always had. My closet has always been organized by type of clothing and then color. Usually done in the Roy G Biv mold. I realized that after remembering comments from people when they came over to my apartment after I moved in for a birthday party. They all wanted to see my closet for some strange reason, and all left nodding their heads and whispering among themselves. I didn't get it until someone mentioned how "organized" my closet was. I just felt it was tidy.

Plus, before the accident I had a particular way of eating M&Ms. It was always color by color, separating the colors of a handful and then going in order of most color to least color. And would get - not upset - but slightly distressed if there was not an even amount of color because they had to be eaten two at a time.

Now...I see that the OCD was always with me...as far back as I can remember. It affects many parts of my life before and after the accident. It was just after the accident - when things begin to really bother me and stress me out, it becomes more prevelant. I have determined that the idea is that I must control "chaos" with order - as I can't in the events surrounding my life.

No, I don't have the 'must wash my hands fifteen times with new soap' or 'lock the door thirteen times or the oceans will dry up' variety. But when I'm in the grip of it, I do have the constant, nagging doubts that things aren't good unless I've checked them twice.

So, I see the bridge between nature and nurture varieties of mental disorders. Was I born wired this way or did something that happened in my childhood lay the foundation for the OCD? Unless it was being zonked in the head I doubt it. And that was never enough to cause even so much as a blackout. But, as a child, I would be more concerned with 'displaying' toys in a certain manner than playing with them. However, the 'nurture' part comes out under stress. The last time I got major bad news at the job, I went into full on OCD mode and wound up ordering a whole section of stuf that not only never needs to be organized but never stays organized by its very nature. But, it soothed me.

My coworkers like to laugh about it these days - and most times so do I. Until it happens and i realize that what I'm doing is not as helpful as I think it is.

I would say that your character with panphobia might have been born wired that way...but that it 'flares up' when things happen to trigger episodes.

Rabe...