Psychological Medicine

Research Article

School phobia and agoraphobia

Ian Berga1, Isaac Marksa1, Ralph McGuirea1 and Maurice Lipsedgea1

a1 Lands Adolescent Unit, Scalebor Park, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley, Yorkshire


The incidence of past school phobia was surveyed by questionnaire in 786 women under 60 years of age who were members of an agoraphobia correspondence club. Twenty-two per cent admitted to previous school phobia, a proportion similar to that found in 57 non-agoraphobic neurotic controls. Past school phobia predicted an earlier onset of subsequent agoraphobia and a more severe psychiatric state as far as symptoms not specifically agoraphobic were concerned. Adolescent agoraphobic difficulties were more associated with school phobia than with agoraphobia in adult life. It was concluded that school phobia leads to agoraphobia in only a small proportion of cases. Although school phobia may predispose to later agoraphobia, it seems more likely that both conditions reflect a lasting tendency to neurotic illness.