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   Professor's new book provides hope for 'shut-ins' and their families



Christina Holmes

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Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 6, 2002 - After noticing the rising number of "shut-ins" who suffer from panic disorder in the households of highly successful people, Robert C. Chope, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of counseling at San Francisco State University, wrote "Shared Confinement: Healing Options for You and the Agoraphobic in your Life," recently published by New Harbinger Publications.

Agoraphobia, a clinical term for the abnormal fear of open or public spaces, is commonly accompanied by panic disorder. A common phobia afflicting about 6 percent of the world population, it can disrupt not only the lives of many people who are either unwilling or unable to leave their homes, but also the lives of their companions and family members. Studies show that women generally tend to be more affected then men.

Chope, a faculty member in SFSU's Counseling Department for 22 years, provides useful information to family members who want to help the agoraphobics in their lives deal with the difficult and disabling disorder. The book contains basic exercises and case studies that help relatives of agoraphobics assess how they may assist their loved ones. Such exercises include putting a hand on the doorknob, taking the first step along the main sidewalk and meeting a person on the street who says hello.

"Increasing workplace instability, global terrorism and economic uncertainty all add to the stressors that influence the behavior of phobics. Many find that even leaving the home elicits feelings of panic," Chope says. "These people are agoraphobic and their incidence is increasing. Even popular films like 'Finding Forrester' (the 2000 movie starring Sean Connery as an agoraphobic) point to the ever-increasing familiarity that Americans have with agoraphobics."

While highly successful people may have agoraphobics in their households, Chope acknowledges that this type of phobia can be found virtually anywhere.

With so few books on the topic, "Shared Confinement" is a unique contribution to individuals and researchers alike wishing to understand the nature of a disabling mental illness.

Also the author of a 2000 book on career growth and development, "Dancing Naked: Breaking Through the Emotional Limits that Keep You from the Job You Want," Chope's earlier research dealt with trying to help people in mid careers overcome the emotional and psychological limits that restrict them from leading the lives that they want.

For copies of the book, contact Lorna Garano, lead publicist at New Harbinger Publications, at (510) 652-0215 ext. 107 or

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Student writer Fred H. Danfoura contributed to this release.

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