Fear and Phobias

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SOCIAL PHOBIAS ARE ANXIETY DISORDERS THAT HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO CLOUD MANY AREAS IN OUR LIVES AND ARE CHARACTERIZED BY THEIR SYMPTOMS AS WELL AS CAUSES. TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE AND CAN BE IMPLEMENTED TO SUCCESSFULLY CURE SOCIAL PHOBIAS AND FORM A BETTER COMMUNITY. 'I have not been out of the house for six months. I did go to see my doctor at Christmas, but I got into such a state that I nearly collapsed, and now I get him to see me here. I feel safe here and I don't get the awful feelings, but I'm not even relaxed at home if I know a stranger is visiting. I often have a drink to calm me if the paperboy is coming to collect the paper money or the gas man is coming to read the meter. Sometimes, though, I just refuse to answer the door.' Overcoming anxiety Helen Kennerley (Robinson 1997)

A situation like this may strike some us as plain absurd, even plunging into the realms of insanity; Yet, this is what people with phobia go through on a daily basis. Anxiety Disorders af-fect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, caus-ing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty (Kessler et al.). Unlike the relatively mild, such as having butterflies in your stomach on the first date, or feeling fearful when you hear strange noises in your household, phobias and anxiety disorders can last from as soon as 6 months or even as long as a whole lifetime if not treated. Anxiety disorders happen very com-monly along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. WHAT IS A PHOBIA?

A phobia is an intense fear of a situation or an object that wouldn't normally worry other people (unless they, too, suffered from the same phobia) (Hill 2000). It severely restricts your life, and may force you to take extreme measures to avoid whatever triggers it. A phobia is known as an anxiety disorder (like obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks), which means it centre’s on our natural reaction to fear. Anxiety is about fear, and we all get anxious at some time. It's a natural reaction in all of us, and keeps us safe. Almost all phobias are focused around a place, an animal, a situation, or something which isn’t necessarily threatening, but people react in a multitude of ways out of proportion to them.(Gersley 2001) Those who suffer from phobias aren't really frightened of particular situa-tions or places, but of the feelings of terror they experience when in them. While they know con-sciously that they are not in physical danger, they cannot convince themselves about this. A phobia is not a psychoses, it is more likely a neuroses. (Stein 1995, p189). When someone is diagnosed with psychosis such as schizophrenia, they may experience other people actually talking to them and clouding their decisions. A phobia is not described as an illness. However, when confronted by the object of your phobia, you are likely to panic, and panic produces very severe physical symptoms, which can make you believe that you are seriously ill. Your heartbeat may speed up, your fingers might tremble with fear, your stomach might be tightening, and you might be sweating buckets. The fear of becoming ill can become part of the problem.

The Main Types of Phobia

There are three classes of phobias: agoraphobia, social phobia, and specific phobia (Stein 1995, p256). As Wood describes, agoraphobics have a terrible fear of being put in situations in which they feel as though it is always not safe. Specific phobia is a phobia which is related to a something tangible such as an object, or something intangible, as a situation. In short, it is specific because the fear is always related to something. The last on the list is social phobia, which is the fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social settings.

Social Phobia in Detail

Social phobia is a complex disorder, characterized by the fear...
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