Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder which causes the excessive, abnormal fear of wide open spaces and being in public - pretty much, the opposite of claustrophobia.
A big part of it is the fear of being unable to escape the situation, which is what causes people who suffer from this disorder to keep themselves increasingly isolated in their own homes; very often the only place where they feel truly safe. Some people can still lead functional lives with agoraphobia, by simply limiting their social activities and staying home aside from going to work or other necessary activities. Others become completely isolated and home-bound; never leaving their homes at all, having anything they might need delivered to them and either living on disability or working from home.
I don't know if anyone has determined what actually causes this, or any other anxiety disorder. But as far as I know, there has been some success with cognitive therapy and/or medication, at least for some people.
- Response by piscesrising
, A Thinker, Female, Who Cares?, Boston, Internet / New Media