Fears and phobias

Whenever someone has a phobia, they often want to know where phobias come from, how they differ from a fear, and what they can do to get treatment for it.

If your have a fear or phobia that’s not included on this page, rest assured that most phobias have a great deal in common Some of the most common phobias have their own page dedicated to them, such as:

  • Fear of flying
  • Commitment phobia
  • Fear of driving
  • Social phobia
  • Fear of the dentist
  • Button phobia

What is a ‘fear’?

A fear is what we feel when we are in the presence of a real danger… it is the feeling associated with our body preparing itself to either fight the source of the danger, or escape from it.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is a similar, often extremely intense feeling of fear, which is caused this time, by a situation or object with doesn’t actually pose any real threat to our safety.

Common with many phobias, is the feeling of loss of control in the given situation, this brings stress and anxiety, and often full scale panic.

Often, the person will avoid the situation or object which brings these feelings, and when they avoid it, (and subsequently don’t get these feelings of anxiety), this only serves to re-enforce the link between the object or situation, and the fear.

Phobias are often caused by an intense feeling of terror being experienced by a child, becoming detached from the stimulus of that terror, and becoming free to attach itself to another (innocuous) object or situation.

Once the fear becomes attached to this secondary object, a link is established which will subsequently cause the fear to be felt when the (new) stimulus is present.

Specific phobias

Categorised as follows…

  • Animal (insects, spiders, rats, snakes, mice etc)
  • Environmental (thunderstorms, darkness, heights etc)
  • Injury (blood, needles, dental procedures, surgery etc)
  • Situations (driving, enclosed spaces, lifts etc)
  • Other (germs, illness etc)

Complex phobias

There are two main complex phobias…

  1. Social Phobia (The fear of social situations and being judged)
  2. Agoraphobia (The fear of open spaces)

If you would like more information on what causes phobias, and a list of some of the phobias that exist, see the information about phobias page.

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