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January 1996

Panic Attacks: Klein's False Suffocation Alarm, Taylor and Rachman's Data, and Ley's Dyspneic-Fear Theory

Author Affiliations

University at Albany State University of New York 1400 Washington Ave Albany, NY 12222

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996;53(1):83. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830010085012

In a recent letter on Klein's1 false suffocation alarm theory of panic attacks, Taylor and Rachman2 reported two sets of data that purportedly support predictions derived from the theory. One set supports the validity of their measure of suffocation fear3 as an index of the sensitivity of the putative suffocation alarm: "As predicted, subjects with high suffocation fear reported significantly more panic attacks than subjects with low suffocation fear... "2 The other set gave the results of a brief structured interview,2 in which subjects with high suffocation fears reported a significantly greater incidence of panic in enclosed spaces and in other situations and a greater incidence of spontaneous panic than did subjects with low suffocation fears.

The primary point to be made here is that Taylor and Rachman's results also support Ley's4 theory of panic, a theory predicated on the assumption that the classic "panic

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