The word phobia derives from the Greek phobos meaning fear and is used to describe a psychological disorder in which there is a compelling fear or dread, especially of a particular object or situation. More specifically, phobias are considered to be extreme, abnormal fears or aversions to such things as crowds, heights, animals, etc.
The more common phobias are an exaggerated fear of those things that many people fear to some extent, such as illness, death, snakes, heights etc. Specific phobias are fears that inspire no fear in the normal person; for example, agoraphobia, fears of buttons, frogs, clowns…the list is endless!
Sigmund Freud was especially interested in the phobias of early childhood: fear of being alone, fear of the dark, fear of small animals, thunderstorms, etc. He theorised that these were linked to an innate preparedness against real dangers that is so well developed in other animals. However, if such childhood phobias become fixed, grow more intense, and persist into later life, then they represent internal conflicts and require professional treatment.
Imagine that you are on holiday and you have to cross a rope bridge. This bridge crosses a river. As you approach the bridge, you look down. Your knees begin to feel a bit shaky and your mouth is dry. Is the bridge really safe? That’s anxiety!
You begin to cross the bridge. Halfway along, you hear a creaking sound. You look round, startled. A group of people are also beginning to cross. The bridge sways precariously. The river below seems a long way down. You are half way across, too far to turn around. What if the bridge breaks you fall into the water? That’s fear!
If you had a phobia, however, you wouldn’t be on the bridge at all. In fact, you wouldn’t have taken the holiday if you knew you had to cross a bridge.
There are literally thousands of phobias, here are twenty-four…
|Dogs or rabies
|Names or a name
|Riding in a car
|Urine or urinating
|Writing in public
|X-rays or radiation