Phobias? What’s the meaning of this word that is so often used in magazines, TV shows and books? Phobias are a state of anxiety that make you experience an irrational fear of an object or situation. The key word here is irrational! From fear of the Number 13 to fear of germs, there’s nothing logical behind phobias.
There are different types of phobias that might sound ridiculous to people that don’t have them but cause many people pain in normal life. Some examples are the fear of thunder, fear of having a disease, or even the fear of dogs. But let’s take a look at five of the most common phobias that we face:
1. Arachnophobia or the irrational fear of spiders. Imagine that you are at home watching television, and you see a spider. How would you react? One normal response would be to pick upthe spider and drop it outside your window. Another normal reaction would be to smash the spider. However, if you find yourself having a panic attack and running away from the spider, you just might have arachnophobia. Arachnophobia is the most common type of animal phobia.Like with other phobias, there is no one definite cause for arachnophobia.
However, there are a few theories as to what causes this fear. The main three are evolution, cultural background and personal experience. Some scientists believe that there is an evolutionary reason for the fear of spiders – that venomous spiders were very dangerous to our ancestors, so evolution has conditioned humans to fear them. Arachnophobia may be due to our cultural background. Spiders are eaten by humans in certain countries, such as Papua New Guinea, and as a result, arachnophobia rarely occurs there. The third theory is related to personal experience.Have you ever felt frightened by something as a child? If so, you probably don’t remember the circumstances, but you remember how it made you feel. This same type of traumatic experience holds true for some arachnophobes.
2. Ophidiophobia is another animal phobia. This is the irrational fear of snakes. We don’t see snakes too often in Europe, but how do we explain this fear? If you like, you can blame Christianity for the bad image it gave to snakes!
3. Acrophobia is another common phobia. It’s not an animal phobia but it’s as terrifying for people who have it as much as spiders are terrifying for arachnophobes. Acrophobia is the irrational fear of heights. This fear can lead to anxiety attacks and avoidance of high places. This can result in avoiding flights, which in our busy society might be a problem for a lot of working and business people.
4. Claustrophobia is another phobia related to space, it’s defined as a fear of enclosed spaces. Like any phobia, the severity of claustrophobia can vary widely from person to person. Sufferers may experience symptoms in small rooms, crowds and many other situations. Some people with claustrophobia are uncomfortable on amusement park rides such as roller coasters that use secure restraints. MRI chambers and other medical testing can also be difficult or impossible for people who suffer from claustrophobia, which can lead to complications in case of a serious physical illness.
5. Agoraphobia is another phobia that is similar – it is the fear of situations in which escape is difficult. This may include crowded areas, open spaces, or situations that are likely to trigger a panic attack. People will begin avoiding these trigger events, sometimes to the point that they stop leaving their home. Approximately one third of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. If you have trouble leaving your home, you may wonder how you could possibly go to a therapist’s office if you decide to seek help. As it’s very common, therapists who treat agoraphobia will be well aware of this problem. They may offer to see you first in your home, or they may meet you in what you consider a safe place (safe zones).
Phobias are common in children too. Nyctophobia, or fear of the dark, is one of the most common specific phobias in children. Between the ages of 6 and 12, many kids are afraid of the dark, especially if they are alone, but this is a normal stage of development and not a phobia.Most people retain a small fear of the dark throughout life and this fear may be evolutionary in nature as many predators hunt at night. Consequently, horror movies and Halloween events use darkness as a way to scare you.
Phobias are irrational: there are no monsters under your bed. That’s why phobias can be cured in a similar way:
The first step is to identify your fear. Think about what you’re afraid of. For example, while you may hate going to the dentist, it might be the use of needles that you’re truly afraid of. If you’re having trouble pinpointing your phobia, write down a list of the things that scare you. You may be able to isolate the true fear.
The second and most important step is exposure. Gradually and repeatedly facing your fears.Have you heard of Little Albert and the conditioning method? Albert was gradually exposed to animals and with time he learnt not to be scared of them.
Last but not least, write down your goals. It will also be helpful during treatment to consider the benefits that come from these goals. Make a coping strategy. Imagine how you want to react to what frightens you. You could visualize something else, face the fear in your head. Consider therapy and medication in severe cases.
And of course, know that being afraid is perfectly normal. After all, fear has helped humans survive in many situations. On the other hand, fears may easily turn into phobias and also prevent someone from accomplishing things. It is normal to feel anxious if you look down from a skyscraper. On the other hand, turning down a dream job just because it happens to be at the top of a skyscraper, is not helping you achieve your goals.
Don’t be scared to be scared!
Explore the Globe of Love: http://globeoflove.com/humans/your-worst-phobias-and-how-to-tackle-them