RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGORAPHOBIA AND FIELD DEPENDENCE

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Abstract

In recent years agoraphobia has been viewed by clinicians as etiologically distinct from other phobic disorders, with conflicts over the developmentally early issue of separation and individuation (self-other differentiation) playing a central role. In an effort to adduce quantitative evidence for this clinical observation, three groups of phobic patients (totaling 166 outpatients in all) were distinguished on the basis of their symptomatology (agoraphobia, simple phobias, and mixed phobias) and were individually administered the Group Embedded Figures Test as a measure of field dependence, a cognitive style dimension that according to Witkin is, at least in part, a manifestation of self-other differentiation. A one-way analysis of variance, performed separately for men and women for differences among the three phobic groups on field dependence, showed significance (p < .05) for the females, with the female agoraphobic being more field dependent than the female simple phobic groups, but not for the males. Implications for the understanding of agoraphobia are discussed.

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