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Cogn Behav Ther. 2003;32(4):187-93.

Preliminary examination of the relationship between anxiety disorders in adults and self-reported history of teasing or bullying experiences.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre, St Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


This preliminary study examined the relationship between anxiety disorders and self-reported history of teasing or bullying experiences, comparing individuals with social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. Given that aversive conditioning experiences, such as severe teasing, have been proposed to play a role in the development of social phobia and that the core feature of social phobia is a fear of social situations in which a person may be embarrassed or humiliated, we hypothesized that the social phobia group would have a higher rate of self-reported teasing history than would the obsessive compulsive disorder or panic disorder groups. Consistent with this hypothesis, a relationship between reported history of teasing and diagnosis was found. A significantly greater percentage of participants in the social phobia group (92%) reported a history of severe teasing experiences compared with the obsessive compulsive disorder (50%) and panic disorder (35%) groups. History of teasing experiences was also significantly related to an earlier age of onset for all 3 anxiety disorders, and to a greater number of self-reported additional problems in childhood. These findings suggest further directions for research in this area and highlight the significant link between perceptions of teasing in childhood and social phobia.


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