Agoraphobia emerged as a named disorder in the 1870s. Since then a wide variety of models ‐ both clinical and non‐clinical ‐ have been devised to explain it. This paper describes four of these models to demonstrate and explore the significance for mental health promotion of their different conceptualisations of agoraphobia in relation to the city, to public space and to the individual. Of particular interest is the shift in the gendering of agoraphobia: while late 19th century accounts tended to feature men, by the mid 20th century the archetype of someone who experiences agoraphobia had become female. The implications of this variance and subsequent decisions about intervention and cure, it is argued, demonstrate the importance of conceptualisation in debates about mental health promotion.
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