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The cognitive hypothesis proposes that panic disorder and hypochondriasis both result from the enduring tendency to misinterpret bodily changes or variations as indicating catastrophic harm. Although there is considerable overlap (and hence comorbidity), the differences between the two problems lies in (i) the extent to which the symptoms misinterpreted are capable of being rapidly increased by anxiety; (ii) the perceived imminence of the feared catastrophe; (iii) the safety seeking behaviors which are triggered (and which play a part in the maintenance of misinterpretation) and (iv) the general beliefs and assumptions upon which some of the misinterpretations are based. Recent research into misinterpretation and related factors is reviewed, and the implications for clinical treatments are outlined. © 1993.

Original publication




Journal article


Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy

Publication Date





23 - 48