The Three Main Types of Phobias
Introduction To The Different Types Of Phobias
Everyone is anxious or nervous about something from time to time. For example, back in 2007 I recall the feeling I had just before I got married. I feared that it would not work out, that I would not be able to find work to support my new wife, and that she would only allow me so much time to find stable employment before filing for divorce. But not only has she seen me through that strained time in my life, but we also are about to celebrate five and a half years of wedded bliss this December.
So when we talk about phobias, we’re speaking of a condition that is more serious than pre-nuptial jitters – we’re talking about taking completely irrational fears to the absolute extreme – we’re talking about a relentless dread of a situation, a person, a living creature , a place or an activity. In order for something to be defined as a phobia, a condition must be so intense that it could actually affect your life in some drastic way.
Phobias can (and often do) result in physical symptoms such as dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, a sense of unreality and even a fear of dying. In many cases such fear can escalate to full scale panic attacks and the sufferer can isolate themselves. The effect on everyday life should not be underestimated, phobias can cause avoidance of situations that could lead to landing gainful employment, or of marrying and starting a family. The effect can, as many individuals will confirm, be life changing.
Although there are many kinds of phobias there are just three main types or categories:
- social phobia.
- specific phobias.
To explain the different categories of phobias:
Social Phobia Or Social Anxiety Disorder:
Social phobia is a fear Of social situations – it’s a fear public humiliation or embarrassing oneself in front of others.
Ultimately, someone with social phobia fear that people they do not know may judge them, which would cause them to have anxiety.
Social phobia, involves panic at the very thought of interacting with people, whether these individuals are peers at school or in the workplace, or authority figures. It entails intense anxiety at the very thought of having to, for examples, speak publicly, eat with others, use a public lavatory, perform on stage, or at the prospect of a more indirect method of evaluation, such as taking a test.
Such people have a fear of being judged by those who don’t know them and are hypersensitive to negative evaluation – even when it is meant as constructive criticism aimed at building a person up and bringing out the maximum potential! This could be a fear of being laughed at because of what they’re wearing, how they speak, what they say or how they look and this fear can be so intense that it will cause avoidance of social situations like parties or social gatherings of any kind completely.
Agoraphobia is anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives the environment as being difficult to escape or get help.
It’s literal definition sugests a fear of wide open spaces but it goes much deeper than that – it’s a fear of being in ANY situation where escape might be thought to be difficult or impossible or that there would be no help available if things went wrong … and that could be anywhere … public transport, shopping malls, parks, forests … or simply leaving the home.
Agoraphobia can cause adverse mental and hence physical reactions too, symptoms such as a panic attack, hyperventilation, sweating and hot flushes, nausea, etc. Such fears, anxiety and panic will often result in the sufferer avoiding all situations thought to cause this panic completely. The effect on everyday life can therefore be significant to say the least – in the extreme the sufferer may feel unable to even leave the house or go outside at all. Such change in behavior is known as avoidance.
A specific phobia is a fear of one or many things and is a generic term for any form of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations. There are 4 main types of specific phobias:
- Environment – fear of thunder, lightening, water, wind, etc.
- Animal – fear of dogs, snakes, spiders, wasps, etc.
- Medical – fear of blood, injury, injections, visiting a doctor, etc.
- Situational – fear of bridges, tunnels, going out, driving, etc.
Just what that particular object or situation is that triggers the intense, irrational fear can vary hugely – you only have to look at out phobia list to see just how many specific phobias there are officially registered.
Our top 20 specific phobias:
- Acrophobia: Fear Of Heights
- Claustrophobia:Fear Of Enclosed Places
- Nyctophobia: Fear Of The Dark
- Ophidiophobia: Fear Of Snakes
- Arachnophobia: Fear Of Spiders
- Trypanophobia: Fear Of Injections
- Brontophobia: Fear Of Thunder Storms
- Nosophobia: Fear Of Having A Disease
- Mysophobia: Fear Of Germs
- Glossophobia: Fear Of Public Speaking
- Aerophobia: Fear Of Flying
- Necrophobia: Fear Of Death Or Dead Things
- Aquaphobia: Fear Of Water
- Emetophobia: Fear Of Vomiting
- Carcinophobia: Fear Of Cancer
- Erythrophobia: Fear Of Blushing
- Zoophobia: Fear Of Animals
- Driving Phobia: Fear Of Driving
- Dentophobia: Fear Of Dentists
- Monophobia: Fear Of Being Alone
A specific phobia is best defined as a lasting, yet unreasonable fear that is caused by a certain trigger. I’m talking about something beyond the fear of failing an examination for which you obviously didn’t study, or a firing that could come if you’re late for work too many more times. I am referring to an intense fear of heights, of spiders, of flying, of cancer, of public speaking, of injections … of anything specific.
Caused often as result of traumatic experiences this fear or anxiety may be triggered by either the presence of the object or situation or merely the anticipation of it.
A person who struggles with a specific phobia will often show signs of fear or express discomfort which may evolve into full blown panic attacks. The psychological effects may result in avoidance of objects or situations and have a drastic effect on life – refuse to fly, avoid dentists, not go out in public etc.
Don’t Underestimate A Phobia
Whilst there are some amusingly named phobias a phobia, of any kind, is no joke. The effect on life can be dramatic and significant and, as such, they should be taken very seriously. You should never assume that your phobia will simply go away of its own accord, nor should you avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Face up to phobia, seek help, find the right treatment and … beat your fears!