Phobias: Phobia and College Student Fears

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We as humans are all afraid of something, but some of us “fears are exaggerated and reactions extreme: the heart race, sweat beads on the skin, the eyes narrow, and the throat tightens” (Gallo). These fears are then phobias, which can be divided into three categories.

Phobia is known to many as just the fear of something but the true definition is a persistent irrational fear of an object, situation, or activity that the person feels compelled to avoid (Wood 689). It is characterized by an intense desire to avoid the feared situation, and evokes anxiety when one is exposed to that situation (Beck, Emery). The three types of phobias are: agoraphobia, social phobia, and specific phobia (Wood 521).

Bill, a twenty year old college student fears public speaking. He has to take a history class requiring lots of verbal interaction. If Bill was unable to avoid the discussion class, he’d find a seat at the rear of the room and sit silently for an entire semester. His grades would naturally be suffered from this, but to him it was better than the searing anxiety he felt whenever he was called on to answer a question or share an opinion in front of twenty of thirty strangers. Bill was called on to take part in a class discussion, and froze. “Blood surged to his temples, his pulse pounded, and sweat beaded on his forehead.” The other students turned to look at him, waiting for his reply, but Bill couldn’t get anything out. His head swam; his thought scattered, and his throat clenched. Even if he could have thought of something to say, he wouldn’t have been able to get it out. Bill’s anxiety continued to mount until he could no longer stand it. He slipped from his seat and fled the classroom. A sense of humiliation dogged him for days. He never returned to the class (Gold).

Bill’s situation is an example of social phobia, which is ear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others — or, in its most severe form, may be so...
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