Common and Not So Common Phobias
A phobia is an irrational fear of something that poses little or no real threat. Classified as an anxiety disorder, phobias affect anywhere from 7% to 13% of the population. Of course, many people go undiagnosed and the percentage of people living with a phobia is most likely much higher than that. The word phobia comes from the Greek word "Phóbos" meaning morbid fear.
Some phobias are more common than others. We have all met a person in a time of our lives who is afraid to get on an airplane or elevator. Other times we may come across with someone with a fear that is a bit over the top. I once knew a girl who had attended a birthday party for her nephew. Her brother had hired a clown for the the party. My friend had to leave the room until the clown was gone. She was twenty-seven at the time. She's now in her late thirties and recently admitted to me that she still is afraid of clowns. There is a name for this. It's called coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.
Phobias are classified into three groups:
- Social phobias: Examples of this type of phobia includes social situations, public riddicule and being judged by other people.
- Specific phobias: Fear of something specific such as animals, water, heights and flying.
- Agoraphobia: Many assume agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces or leaving the home. This is misleading and only half right. Agoraphobics are actually afraid of panic attacks and avoid situations that may cause distress and anxiety for them.
People living with phobias go to great lengths to avoid their object of fear. Some phobias don't affect a person's life very much. A person who lives in Alaska who has a fear of snakes wouldn't have to deal with panic attacks or running into a boa constrictor while taking a walk. However, someone who is afraid of heights or elevators may have to decline a great paying job because it's located on the 36th floor of a building. Likewise, people afraid of driving and open spaces have difficult lives because their phobia affect them on a daily basis.
Causes of phobias may vary. Sometimes a situation or trauma can lead to irrational fears. Other times it's in a person's genetic makeup. If phobias are affecting a person's daily life, therapy is available and can greatly help a person overcome their phobia.
Some of the Most Common Phobias
Acrophobia: Fear of heights
Aerophobia: Fear of flying
Agoraphobia: Intense fear and avoidance of situations that may bring on feeling of anxiety or panic.
Ailurophobia: Fear of cats
Arachnaphobia: Fear of spiders
Brontophobia: Fear of thunder and lightning. Common in children.
Carcinophobia: Fear of cancer
Claustraphobia: Fear of closed spaces
Cynophobia: Fear of dogs
Glossophobia (also known as speech anxiety): Fear of public speaking
Hydrophobia: Fear of water (i.e., swimming, being in a boat or even sitting in a bathtub)
Mysophobia (also knowns as germaphobia): Fear of germs
Necrophobia: Fear of death
Nosophobia: Fear of contracting a disease
Nyctophobia: Fear of the dark. Common in children.
Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes
Xenophobia: Fear of foreigners or strangers.
Anthrophobia: Fear of flowers
Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one's mouth
Cataptrophobia: Fear of mirrors
Chionophobia: Fear of snow
Chronomentrophobia: Fear of time
Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns
Ergasiophobia: Fear of work
Kinemortophobia: Fear of zombies or 'the undead'
Panophobia: Fear of everything
Paraskavedekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th
Phobiaphobia: Fear of having a phobia
Taphophobia: Fear of being buried alive