• preparedness

• repression

• three-systems approach

• two-factor theory

• vicarious transmission

The concept of anxiety is one of the most often-used and loosely defined concepts in psychology. It can be used to describe a temporary state ("He seems anxious today") or an enduring personality trait ("He is an anxious person"). It is used to assign cause ("He stumbled over the words in his speech because he was anxious") and to describe an effect ("Having to give a speech makes him anxious"). It is seen as the result of discrete objects or situations, such as snakes or heights, or as evolving from basic existential problems such as the trauma of birth or the fear of death. All major theories in psychology in some way confront anxiety.

Because of its preeminence in the field of psychology, there are many different theories about the nature and origin of anxiety disorders. The two most important and influential viewpoints on anxiety are the Freudian and the behavioral viewpoints. Although these theories attempt to explain many anxiety disorders, an examination of how they apply to phobias presents a good indication of how they work. A phobia can be defined as an anxiety disorder involving an intense fear of a particular thing (such as horses) or situation (such as heights).

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