Specificity in familial aggregation of phobic disorders

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 08/1995; 52(7):564-73.
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To investigate whether each of three DSM-III-R phobic disorders (simple phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia with panic attacks) is familial and "breeds true."
Rates of each phobic disorder were contrasted in first-degree relatives of four proband groups: simple phobia, social phobia, agoraphobia with panic attacks, and not ill controls. Phobia probands were patients who had one of the phobia diagnoses but no other lifetime anxiety comorbidity.
We found moderate (two- to fourfold increased risk) but specific familial aggregation of each of the three DSM-III-R phobic disorders.
These results support a specific familial contribution to each of the three phobia types. However, conclusions are limited to cases occurring without lifetime anxiety comorbidity and do not imply homogeneity within categories.

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    • "According to this line of reasoning, it would be expected that parents who fear being laughed at would also have children who fear being laughed at. Although the fear of being laughed at Laughter and ridicule in parents and children -6 is seen as a personality characteristic at a sub-clinical level (Ruch and Proyer 2008b), it should be noted that there is empirical evidence on familial accumulations in anxiety related disorders (phobias; e.g., Fyer et al. 1995). This may point towards similarities between parents and children in their expression of the fear of being laughed at. "
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    ABSTRACT: Familial aggregation and the effect of parenting styles on three dispositions toward ridicule and being laughed at were tested. Nearly 100 families (parents, their adult children, and their siblings) completed subjective questionnaires to assess the presence of gelotophobia (the fear of being laughed at), gelotophilia (the joy of being laughed at), and katagelasticism (the joy of laughing at others). A positive relationship between fear of being laughed at in children and their parents was found. Results for gelotophilia were similar but numerically lower; if split by gender of the adult child, correlations to the mother’s gelotophilia exceeded those of the father. Katagelasticism arose independently from the scores in the parents but was robustly related to greater katagelasticism in the children’s siblings. Gelotophobes remembered punishment (especially from the mother), lower warmth and higher control from their parents (this was also found in the parents’ recollections of their parenting style). The incidence of gelotophilia was unrelated to specific parenting styles, and katagelasticism exhibited only weak relations with punishment. The study suggests a specific pattern in the relation of the three dispositions within families and argues for a strong impact of parenting styles on gelotophobia but less so for gelotophilia and katagelasticism.
    Journal of Adult Development 12/2012; 19(4). DOI:10.1007/s10804-012-9150-6 · 0.60 Impact Factor
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    • "Contrary to our predictions, but consistent with longitudinal data [Pine et al., 2001], rates of specific phobias were not significantly elevated among any of the groups relative to controls, or to each other. One explanation for discrepant findings may be previous reports' failure to consider the possible influence of anxiety disorders, particularly specific phobia, in parents with MDD, especially because specific phobia has been shown to aggregate in families [Fyer et al., 1995]. However, in this study, even when parent diagnostic groups were divided into those with and without lifetime specific phobia, the relationship between parent diagnosis and offspring-specific fears and phobias is unchanged (data available upon request). "
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    • "Fewer studies have addressed these questions, but those that have indicate a moderate degree of specificity within particular anxiety disorders, although results are not entirely consistent. One of the only studies that examined this issue across a range of anxiety disorders compared diagnoses in first-degree relatives of probands with social phobia, agoraphobia, simple phobia, and controls , based on DSM-III-R criteria (Fyer et al. 1995). "
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    ABSTRACT: Family variables are thought to play a key role in a wide variety of psychopathology according to many theories. Yet, specific models of the development of anxiety disorders place little emphasis on general family factors despite clear evidence that anxiety runs in families. The current review examines evidence for the involvement of a number of family-related variables in the development of anxiety disorders as well as the importance of families in their management. Evidence across most areas is shown to be weak and inconsistent, with the one exception being an extensive literature on the role of parenting in the development of anxiety. There is also currently little evidence that family factors have a strong role to play in the treatment of anxiety, aside from research demonstrating the value of parents and partners as non-critical supports in therapy. The promises and hints in the literature, combined with the currently inconsistent methods, suggest that considerably more research is needed to determine whether specific family factors may yet be shown to play a key role in the development and management of anxiety disorders.
    Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 11/2011; 15(1):69-80. DOI:10.1007/s10567-011-0106-3 · 4.75 Impact Factor
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