Anxiety & Phobic

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What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
  • Nightmares
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as repeated hand washing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

There are several recognized types of anxiety disorders, including:

Panic Disorder: People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Other symptoms of a panic attack include sweating, chest pain, palpitations (irregular heartbeats), and a feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or “going crazy.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): People with OCD are plagued by constant thoughts or fears that cause them to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions, and the rituals are called compulsions. An example is a person with an unreasonable fear of germs who constantly washes his or her hands.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a condition that can develop following a traumatic and/or terrifying event, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. People with PTSD often have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event, and tend to be emotionally numb.

Social Anxiety Disorder: Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. The worry often centres on a fear of being judged by others, or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or lead to ridicule.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.

Our Specialist areas of treatment include:

  • Anxiety and Block of performance
  • Panic attacks
  • Panic attacks with agoraphobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social Phobia
  • Other monophobias
  • Sexual problems

Fear, panic and phobias are the problems which were originally studied with this model. The first work on these disorders dates back to the late 1960s and more significantly in the 1980’s by our colleagues in Italy and MRI in Palo Alto, California. The first published research dates back to 1967 (Weakland and Ray, 1995.)(see our Bibliography section of the 1000’s of scientific books and articles written by our colleagues and pioneering clinicians).

During the last fifteen years thousands of patients have been treated for phobic and obsessive disorders with our model (Breif Strategic Therapy). At present, the efficacy of the advanced treatment model for anxiety, phobia and panic attacks is equivalent to 95% (Nardone and Watzlawick, 2004).

95% of anxiety problems Panic, Agoraphobia, OCD etc., are resolved within an average of 7 sessions, during which the majority of the cases (81 percent) got unblocked within the 5th session and in 50% of these cases there were no traces of the relevant symptoms after the first session.

Obsessive-Compulsive disorders

Another major clinical project carried out by our colleagues has been the study of obsessive-compulsive behavior. There has been a study of this highly intimidating disorder and its treatment for more than fifteen years. During this long-term trial there has been success in more than two thousand patients with persistent and complicated obsessions and compulsive rituals.

Based on the research-and-intervention method, this study turned out to be a surprisingly exceptional instrument for understanding and solving obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Through this research it has been discovered that obsessive-compulsive disorder is maintained by the patient’s attempts at solutions by avoidance and control of anxiety-laden situations by compulsive behaviors or thoughts. Patients aim at either repairing in their mind for some fear or by trying to prevent some perceived fear happening.

Repairing Rituals: are ones carried out to intervene and repair after a feared event has taken place, so that the patient will not feel in danger, and so it is oriented toward the past.

Preventive Rituals: are focused on anticipating the frightening situation to relieve the fear or to prevent the worst outcome; therefore it is oriented toward the future.

During this lengthy research in specific protocols were devised protocols to fit the different types of compulsive rituals or behaviors. We have now, at our disposal, a series of specific effective and tested interventions that have proven through research to be the most effective treatment for the different forms of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Body Dysmorphia

Another area of research has been the recent disorder that dysmorphia, i.e. the obsessive fear of one’s physical appearance. This problem holds the same way of thinking and behaving as all the other phobic-obsessive disorders.

This disorder is related to our growing sense of how we look and to the leaps of progress made by cosmetic surgery during recent decades. It is also connected with the modern notion that we have now advanced so much that we are able to change what was up to now not changeable, such as our own physical and genetically determined appearance.

Until twenty years ago, those who longed to better their appearance and to become see themselves as more attractive had to appease themselves by going to the gym or using traditional aesthetic methods, However nowadays this is possible thanks to cosmetic surgery. In our Westernized culture, both males and females undergo plastic surgery on various parts of their body, confident in bettering their appearances.

Cosmetic surgery is in itself may be a useful procedure, but if used it can be excessive and improper use can render it decisively harmful and dangerous. Unfortunately, even in this case, what might be useful might become harmful if rigidly repeated.

Therefore, when a person becomes obsessed with their looks so much so that they refuse to accept themselves, then their focus is always going to be on their “defects”. They can live with this torment throughout the day, which then turns into panic at the sight of a mirror or at an indiscreet glance.

Thus the person finds a possible solution and, to try to overcome the problem, puts all their faith in cosmetic surgery. However, it is necessary to point out that, in the majority of the cases, the aesthetic “defect” is either nonexistent or insignificant.

The idea of having an unacceptable aesthetic deformation is only a mental fixation, often related to relational problems with others and a profound sense of insecurity.

The mind clings to an aesthetic defect to explain the foundations of these problems and holds the illusionary hope that, once this is removed or modified, everything will miraculously fall into place.

The danger is that this can give rise to a chain of never ending corrective interventions, that exacerbates the problem for the patient (Nardone, Portelli, 2005).

In such cases, the illusion of a surgical solution leads to more and more interventions, which in turn activate a sort of chain reaction that takes over entirely the subject’s thoughts, causing him or her to live in a constant need to sedate the reactions of panic triggered by the idea of having an aesthetic defect.

As in the case of obsessive-compulsive disorders, even in dysmorphophobia, the solution transforms itself into a new problem that requires a new solution, which in turn constructs another problem, and so on (Nardone, Portelli, 2005). This escalation often leads to real concrete tragic effects, e.g. real deformations, products of a series of aesthetic corrective interventions that might adjust a feature but decompose the overall harmony of the individual.


Another common attempted solution taken up by dysmorphophobics is isolation from social contact, so as to avoid the suffering and the panic crises triggered off by their constant feeling of being observed and judged.

Afterwards, they desperately ask for relatives’ support for what seems to be for them, the only possible solution to their problem and their sufferings, i.e., plastic surgery. Even though the relatives understand clearly that the problem is psychological and not physical, they end up giving in to this request, because the suffering expressed by the subject seems devastating.

Generally, the dysmorphophobics refuse to undergo psychotherapy, because they are convinced they have a real aesthetic defect and not an erroneous pathogenic perception of themselves. All this makes it difficult to treat this severe pathology and often patients come to therapy only when the disaster has been accomplished.

At the Bateson Clinic We Can deal Effectively With This Problem For The Majority of Our Patients.

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