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The genetic epidemiology of irrational fears and phobias in men


The genetic epidemiology of irrational fears and phobias in men



Archives of General Psychiatry 58(3): 257-265



ISSN/ISBN: 0003-990X

PMID: 11231833

DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.58.3.257

Background: Much of our knowledge of the role of genetic factors in the etiology of phobias comes from one population-based sample of female twins. We examined the sources of individual differences in the risks for phobias and their associated irrational fears in male twins. Methods: In personal interviews with both members of 1198 male-male twin pairs (707 monozygotic (MZ) and 491 dizygotic (DZ)) ascertained from a population-based registry, we assessed the lifetime history of agoraphobia and social, animal, situational, and blood/injury phobias as well as their associated irrational fears. Twin resemblance was assessed by means of probandwise concordance, odds ratios, tetrachoric correlations, and univariate and multivariate biometrical model fitting. Results: The suggestive results obtained by analysis of phobias only were supported by analyzing both fears and phobias. All 5 phobia subtypes aggregate within twin-pairs. This aggregation is due largely or solely to genetic factors with heritability of liabilities ranging from 25% to 37%. Multivariate analysis revealed a common genetic factor, genetic factors specific to each subtype, and a common familial-environmental factor. Conclusions: In male subjects, genetic risk factors, which are partially common across all subtypes and partially subtype specific, play a moderate role in the etiology of phobias and their associated irrational fears. Family environment probably has an impact on risk for agoraphobia and social phobia. The genetic liability to blood/injury phobias is not distinct from those of the more typical phobias.

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Accession: 011509822

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