Competing Theories of Panic: Martin E. P. Seligman
I will outline the strength of the cognitive views of panic, point to one glaring weakness and one concealed mystery, outline a Pavlovian theory, and make four recommendations for future research.
Two introductory remarks are in order. First, the therapeutic results described by Clark (this volume) and Beck (this volume) are extremely promising, and need to be pursued with vigor. Second, we are participating in a debate between two models of psychopathology, with panic disorder as the centerpiece. One model, biomedical, claims essentially that panic is a disorder of the body, is biochemical, with genetic vulnerability, and appropriately treated by drug therapy. The other, cognitive-behavioral, claims that it is a disorder of the mind, based on misinterpretation, with a cognitive diathesis, and suitable for psychotherapy. The present discussion is confined to psychological approaches to panic.