Phobias-What Are The Most Common and What Triggers Them?
Afraid of Heights?
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?
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?