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Phobias-What Are The Most Common and What Triggers Them?

Updated on June 11, 2013

Afraid of Heights?

Then you don't want to climb down this cliff!
Then you don't want to climb down this cliff!

What Are You Scared Of?

I have always been interested in what topics scare people and why? Most of us know that Phobias exist, but never really pay attention to the damage that they can do. They not only cause the person to be plagued by worry, but in some severe cases, prohibit them from leading a fulfilling and productive life.

Phobias are described as intense fears either rational or irrational and can be caused by something substantial or nothing at all. It's not just a simple fear, but it is so strong that it can cause anxiety attacks if the person suffering even thinks for a moment about conquering that fear.

In many situations the reason for the fear cannot be fully explained. For example, if the person is afraid of heights, that same person may have never even been high up where a fear might've developed. They may have no logical reason for being afraid. It's possible that nothing bad has even happened to them regarding heights. But yet, this is their fear. More importantly, this is their phobia.

If they are terrified of spiders, they may have never had one crawl within five feet of them, but yet, something about their existence causes them deep emotional pain.

On the other hand, there may very well be a substantial reason for their phobia. Something in their life might have caused the fear to spiral out of control, thus causing a debilitating phobia.

My Writing Prompted Me To Research Phobias

Do Reptiles Scare You?

What Are Some of the Most Common Phobias?

If you do a quick search on the Internet, or ask each individual in a large group of people, you'll find that there are over seven hundred different phobias. The ones that I found most common are.

  • Arachnophobia: Fear of Spiders
  • Acrophobia: Fear of heights
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of crowded places. Sometimes bad enough that people refuse to leave their home out of fear
  • Social Phobia: This may prevent people from attending social events or parties
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of enclosed spaces, such as closets, tanning booths or airplanes
  • Mysophobia: More commonly known as germophobia. People who are afraid of germs
  • Carcinophobia: Fear of Cancer
  • Necrophobia: Fear of Death
  • Glossophobia: Fear of Speaking in public


Do you have any phobias?

See results

Does This Bug Send You Running?

How Does it Happen?

Aside from agoraphobia, I can safely say that I know someone (including myself) who has at least one of those phobias if not more. They are not as uncommon as you might think. While the degree of debilitation varies for each person, the actual fear is the same.

I can say from experience that I am afraid of heights. Now, I have no problem flying anywhere. Airplanes don't scare me in the least, unless of course, there's awful turbulence, but it doesn't frighten me enough to keep me off of them.

Walking on the bleachers at a high school, however, frightens me to the point that my legs will stiffen up and prevent me from climbing higher than the third step. Hiking up a mountain is a slow process for me, as long as I am the one leading the way, I seem to do better than following a guide. In all three situations I just described, I couldn't say which one is more irrational. I should be scared to fly as it is truly the highest point I will ever reach, but it doesn't scare me. The bleachers are fairly safe. At most, if I fell, I might break a leg, but yet I refuse to climb them. Whereas hiking a mountain can send me to my death, but only frightens me if I'm not the one making decisions or declaring when we turn around.

How do these fears start? Where do they develop? Is it learned behavior that is actually honed and perfected in a negative way? Similar to any habit, if you feed this habit, does it become worse?

I believe that it does. If a child falls down and you rush to his or her aid, cooing over them, hugging them tight and making a big deal of it, what happens? Normally, they start to cry. If you quietly make sure they are okay, brush them off and continue like nothing was wrong, typically they smile (unless they are really hurt) and continue what they were doing.

I'd have to venture a guess and say that same rule applies to phobias. If you feed your fear, it continues to grow.

I used the heights example above, but I also fear bugs. When I was a child, I admit was a little Tom boy. I liked playing with frogs, making little outfits for them (that they never wore), I liked turtles and most of all I liked worms. Yes, worms. Caterpillars, inch worms, earthworms- you name it. I built them little houses using old cool whip containers filled with dirt. I included nuts and bolts as their tables and chairs and then lifted up the worms, put them in there and watched them crawl out. (Yes, I had a vivid imagination). Don't worry, they were always safe, except when I accidentally sat on one, but that's another story.

Now, as an adult, I hate bugs. Detest them. The thought of picking up a worm sends chills down my spine. Nothing bad ever happened to me where bugs were involved, but I wouldn't touch one if you paid me. Learned response? I think so.

So, What is the Cure?

There are many different techniques to try to cure this, most involving counseling and step-by-step programs. If you remember the movie, "What About Bob?" Richard Dreyfus preaches Baby Steps to Bill Murray. While it was a comedy, that is one way to try to cure it!

Should You Reveal Your Phobias to Strangers?
Well, if you are Matt Brewer in my book, Phobia, you definitely shouldn't. But in a normal world, with sane people, I don't think there's any harm in that.

Do you have any phobias mentioned above? How do you deal with them?


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    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      My pleasure, Joy! Thanks for commenting. Have a great night!


    • JoyLevine profile image

      JoyLevine 4 years ago from 3rd Rock from the Sun

      Very interesting article! Informative and nicely presented. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Works too

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I have to admit- I've never heard of that either. WIll check the links...

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      I've never heard of that so I'll ask for any of us who don't know ... what is the tapping technique?

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 4 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Fear is an interesting topic.... phobia's.

      Have you ever used the tapping technique to eliminate a fear/anxiety?

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Sheila - I think you are right that it is a taught behavior- even if it's not directly. I can't remember why or what happened to make me hate bugs, but something must have. I can't believe the teacher told you that about the worms!!

      What you said about the ladder- yes! That's how I feel. I can't climb a ladder at all- same thing- about the third ring I start to feel dizzy. But, as a kid, I could do it no problem.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      I found it very interesting when you talked about how some people have a fear of something even though nothing bad ever happened to them. I'm not a psychologist nor have I looked up the information, but I think part of that might have to do with what we're taught as a child. You know . . . things along the lines of old wives tales that have no basis in fact, but we believe them anyway.

      I remember in elementary school when I was playing at recess. The ground was still wet because it had rained and there were worms everywhere. Me and one of the boys were picking up the worms and playing with them. The teacher came over and told us we shouldn't do that because the worms could lay eggs on our fingers and baby worms would grow under our fingernails. For the longest time, I was scared of worms. Now I know that isn't true and the teacher told us that just so we wouldn't play with the worms. That could've caused a life-long phobia for me.

      I marked your poll as having one phobia, but I'm not afraid of it all the time. I have a fear of heights and can't climb higher than the 3rd or 4rth rung of a ladder. I could never be a tight rope walker, even if the rope was only a few feet off the ground. At other times, heights don't bother me. As long as I have something solid under me, I know I'm ok. I can stand on a roof; it's the climbing the ladder that gets to me.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I know some are scared of clowns...but never heard of being scared of balloons!

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 4 years ago

      I know a friend who has a phobia of balloons.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      How funny! Okay- hopping over to your hub right now!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I just wrote about this yesterday in a hub, and our old friend Phobos, the Greek god, was in it. :) Great information here my friend.