Some defensive and cognitive aspects of phobias

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Abstract

Divided phobias into 2 nonexhaustive groupings–animal phobias and situation phobias. Three hypotheses were tested: (a) animal phobics will use more obsessional defenses, whereas situation phobics will use more hysterical defenses; (b) animal phobics will show greater psychological differentiation than situation phobics, and (c) situation phobics will show greater physiognomic sensitivity than animal phobics. Ss consisted of 36 severely phobic adults, 18 of each type. Both the Defense Mechanism Inventory and the Holtzman Inkblot Technique were used to measure defenses. The Hidden Figures Test was used to measure psychological differentiation and the Physiognomic Cue Test was used to measure physiognomic sensitivity. The results confirm 2 of the 3 hypotheses. Phobic types showed significant differences in the use of ego defense mechanisms, as predicted. Animal phobics were significantly more field independent than situation phobics, as predicted. Factor analysis yielded 4 nameable factors, 2 of which differentiated the 2 phobic groups. Results suggest that phobias cannot be viewed as a single neurotic entity. (26 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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