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Flight into illness is characterized by the sudden appearance of psychiatric symptoms that appear to confer some advantage for the sufferer. For example the onset of agoraphobia for a long term unemployed person confronted with the challenges of the workplace and the prospect of starting work.
In psychoanalysis flight into illness is associated with the appearance of new symptoms as the therapy intensifies, so that these distract from the process of continuing to address difficult areas. So for example a woman about to confront her own sexual abuse may experience increased anxiety and refocus the discussion, at least temporarily, on her current struggles, rather than on the past.