The Pavlovian Journal of Biological Science

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 16–24 | Cite as

Dentist phobia

  • Heidemarie E. Schroeder
  • Uwe Schroeder
  • Guy Santibáñez-H.


This study analyzes so-called hopeless gaggers,i.e., patients in whom dental treatment and wearing of a prosthesis produced a retching or vomiting reaction, in order to investigate the sources and properties of this pathologic reaction. In 35 patients, an anamnestic inquiry, a determination of the reflexogenic zone, a recording of the peripheral pattern of the pathologic reflex, and extinction training were performed. A group of six normal persons served as a comparison group. It was shown that patients, in comparison with normals, had an enlarged receptive field, were sensitive to a broader population of stimuli, and showed precursors and aftereffects of the retching-vomiting not found in normals. This pathologic reaction was the symptom of different Psychopathologie processes, such as specific fear, repugnance-fear-based disturbances, diffuse anxiety, goal-directed behavior, depressive states and, at least in one case, visceral pathology. The various patients differed with respect to properties of the reaction as well as in the sensitivity to the extinction procedure. It is discussed that different integrative nervous processes play a role in the origin and development of the syndrome: activation of unconditional reflexes, activation of classic and instrumental conditional reflexes, activation of such reflexes by an increase of the reactivity level of specific and unspecific structures of the brain, generalization of stimuli,etc.


Conditional Stimulus Dental Treatment Tactile Stimulation Extinction Training Genic Zone 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidemarie E. Schroeder
    • 1
  • Uwe Schroeder
    • 1
  • Guy Santibáñez-H.
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiologisches Institut des Bereichs Medizin (Charité)der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Labor für Verhaltensphysiologie and Poliklinik für StomatologieBerlin

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