Q: What is Agoraphobia?
A:The word “agoraphobia” comes from the Greek words, “agora” and” “phobia”. The Agora, in ancient greek times was the
town’s market,a shopping area or meeting place where social and commercial life took place. Today, the closest thing we
have to this is the shopping mall or shopping areas in large cities. Phobia in Greek means fear. Agoraphobia, then means
fear of the market place. People with this condition fear crowds, or large social gatherings. They are uncomfortable at
the mall, church, school or workplace because of a belief that something bad will happen or they will embarrass themselves
in some way. This condition can be uncomfortable or completely unmanageable for the person experiencing it, sometimes
to the point of refusing to leave their home. If you want a graphic portrayal, Hollywood style, of this condition watch the
movie Copycat with Sigourney Weaver.
Treatment consists of gradual desensitization by brief, short exposures to the outside world or social situations, repeated
over time with the guidance of a trained therapist. In severe cases, medication for anxiety may be indicated to get the
person willing to even try to overcome this uncomfortable condition. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be a transforming
therapeutic process in that it encourages the person to face the faulty thoughts and beliefs which are fueling the problem
while demonstrating, through desensitization, the possibility of normal social interaction.