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Self Help Articles

The Role Of The Spouse In The Treatment Of The Agoraphobic Patient

Author: Dr Arthur B. Hardy

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The Overly Protective Partner

The overly protective partners have a tendency to infantilise the agoraphobics by being super-careful, taking great care of them, and being excessively solicitous of their problem. There are sufficient secondary gains from this relationship to reinforce the agoraphobics need for attention, comfort and security, which helps to perpetuate and even exaggerate the problem. They lose their self-confidence and self-esteem by making themselves submissive to their partners, whom they feel would be disappointed if the agoraphobic did not need someone to watch over and take care of them.

The overly protective partners generally have greater difficulties in making changes. They have formed an old habit of wanting to care for someone to the extent of preventing self-development. This habit is very strong and very difficult to change.

Correction of this situation depends on recognising the problem. This must be followed by open discussion between both parties until an understanding is reached concerning the type of changes that must be made in order for the relationship to achieve a healthier balance. These changes consist of the partner curtailing the tendency to do everything for the agoraphobic and, in turn, allowing them to undergo a gradual process of individualisation and separation by learning to do things for him/herself which will result in personal growth for both partners.

There may be an initial feeling of loss on the part of the phobic person, and perhaps even the partner, due to the separation process, but this can minimised by sharing the success the phobic experiences in learning to stand on his or her own.

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Wallsend Self Help Group 2015 Rob Rolls

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