Beating Dog Phobias

By London, Robert T. | Clinical Psychiatry News, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Beating Dog Phobias


London, Robert T., Clinical Psychiatry News


You have a patient who is planning to visit a good friend. The patient is looking forward to the visit but with a sense of dread--for reasons that have nothing to do with the friendship.

Why the ambivalence? It's the friend's dog, which is a lovely animal that has never bitten anyone and appears to like the patient. But dread and terror dominate the patient's thinking. What are some of the most efficient ways of treating such problems?

There are probably as many theories about the origin and development of phobias as there are psychotherapies. I have found, however, that we as psychiatrists and psychotherapists can use one of the simplest in vivo techniques to help the dog-phobic patient.

Often, in the context of discussing my learning, philosophizing, and action (LPA) treatment model, I mention in vitro solutions to a problem or disorder. In this case, with guidance, the motivated dog-phobic patient could conquer this problem on his own in the in vivo setting at little or no expense, as would not be the case when addressing in vivo elevator or airplane phobias.

I recall a successful attorney who previously had been in two psychotherapies in an effort to get over his dog phobia: once with a psychiatrist, with sessions that lasted 8 months; and the other with a psychologist, for 3 months' worth of sessions.

Over time, the patient found that many of his adult friends had gotten dogs as pets, as had some of the legal colleagues whose homes he visited. He had spent at least 10 adult years wanting to overcome this phobia. Also, he wanted to conquer his fear so he could get a dog for his family, which included three children.

The psychiatrist had taken the patient back to childhood fears of death by dog bite and rabies. As they proceeded, the patient said he and the therapist examined many fragile aspects of his family relationships in which the possibility of death and dying were overplayed. The patient went along with this approach, even though he had traced his phobia to his mother and grandmother, who had taught him some of their own faulty beliefs.

The patient accepted the tactic for a time. But after 8 months, he gave up, and a year later, he started working with a second psychotherapist. Without much to review, this therapy focused on dog hairs and the patient's fear of choking as being the reasons for this phobia. This, according to the patient, started because when asked about the first phobic response in childhood, the patient reported a lot of coughing during his first anxiety/phobic episode.

He did remember having a bad cold at the time--which the therapist ignored. The patient recalled that he had never found himself coughing again when he felt anxiety-ridden about coming in contact with a dog.

I won't fault the two therapies because they were trying to get to the root of the anxieties that developed into the phobic response. Unfortunately, it may not have been the initial anxiety, coupled with symbolic representations that preceded the phobia, that were inaccurate, but rather, the learned behavior.

The patient's desire to get a dog for his family provided the incentive to seek help for a fear he now believed was irrational.

On our first and only visit, the patient recalled that his memory of fearing dogs appeared directly related to being told repeatedly by his mother and grandmother that dogs can hurt people and their bites can result in rabies. Based on what this man had been taught for years, it seemed natural for him to develop a fear of these animals.

My work with these types of phobias is behavioral, aiming for as rapid a problem resolution as possible. In this case, the patient made clear how he had learned this fear. I accepted his theory in much the same way that we in medicine accept a patient's theories about how they reactivated an old shoulder injury.

With the LPA method, the learning phase was simple; the patient clearly explained it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beating Dog Phobias
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.