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Obituary : A. B. Hardy; Expert on Agoraphobia

November 01, 1991|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Arthur Boydston Hardy, a psychiatrist who broke with Freudian analysis in favor of behavior therapy, has died of cancer at his home in Northern California.

Hardy was 74 when he died Saturday in Menlo Park.

Hardy was known primarily as the founder of an alternative treatment program for agoraphobics, those with crippling fears of being in open or public places. He was credited with helping thousands of patients whose abnormality was so intense that many hadn't left their homes for years, fearing that they would have heart attacks or other debilitating illnesses.

He even renamed agoraphobia, calling it "territorial apprehension."

Research shows that agoraphobia may afflict as many as one in 100 people. Its victims become so fearful of crowds, freeways and restaurants that they can function only around a "safe person," normally a close friend or family member or in a "safe place," usually their home.

In a 1982 interview with The Times, Hardy said the typical agoraphobic has "above average intelligence, a sense of humor, high potential and are overly creative. All of them have talent in the artistic sense--writing poetry, painting, writing. . . ."

Hardy pulled back from psychoanalysis in the early 1960s after learning of a technique called behavior therapy being utilized by Arnold Lazarus and Joseph Wolpe at Stanford.

Utilizing that approach, Hardy would visit agoraphobics in their "safe places" and help them extend the space in which they felt secure by confronting the source of the threat and working through it using relaxation techniques. He called the method "vivo systematic desensitization."

By the 1970s the success of his treatments had drawn widespread media attention, which in turn brought requests for treatment from agoraphobics and for training from psychotherapists.

He appeared on "60 Minutes" and "The Phil Donahue Show" and wrote dozens of articles for medical journals, newspapers and magazines.

Hardy developed the Territorial Apprehension Treatment Program, which is comprehensive cognitive and behavior therapy.

More than 50 centers around the world have been established using Hardy's procedures.

He also founded the Phobia Society of America, now the Anxiety Disorder Assn. of America in Washington.

Born in Sidney, Neb., Hardy graduated from the University of Nebraska and trained at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto before interning in Denver. He was a military surgeon in World War II and later became director of psychiatry at the El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. He founded his Counseling and Psychotherapy Center in nearby Palo Alto.

Survivors include his wife, Crucita, a son, daughter, stepdaughter and stepson.

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