Phobias: Things That Go Bump in the Mind

Topics: Fear, Phobia, Panic attack Pages: 5 (1706 words) Published: November 30, 2005
Phobias aren't just extreme fears. They are irrational fears of a particular thing. For instance, you may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains with ease but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. (NIMH, 1995) Even though adults with phobias realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing or even thinking about the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety. Affecting an estimated 6.3 million adult Americans(Lefton, L. A., 1997), phobias are twice as common in women as in men. The causes of specific phobias are not well understood, though there is some evidence that these phobias may run in families. Specific phobias usually first appear during childhood or adolescence and tend to persist into adulthood. Definition of Disorder

By definition, phobias are "irrational fears," that interfere with one's everyday life or daily routine. If your fear of high places prevents you from crossing necessary bridges to get to work, that fear is irrational. If your fears keep you from enjoying life or even preoccupy your thinking so that you're unable to work, sleep or do things you wish to do, then it becomes irrational.A phobia is something a person fears to the point that they feel they have to change how they behave.(Lefton, L. A., 1997) The Wikipedia encyclopedia gave this as a definition of phobias.

" Phobias are psychological and physiological conditions that can range from serious disabilities to common fears to minor quirks.
In addition, a number of neologisms have appeared with the suffix -phobia, which are not phobias in clinical sense, but rather describe a negative attitude towards something, see section Non-clinical uses of the term below.

Phobias (in the clinical meaning of the term) are the most common form of anxiety disorder. An American study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 1995) found that between 5.1% and 21.5% of Americans suffer from phobias. Broken down by age and gender, the study found that phobias were the most common mental illness among women in all age groups and the second most common illness among men older than 25.

The opposite of the suffix -phobia is a -philia or -philie (meaning "love of")." (Wikipedia encyclopedia)

Many people experience specific phobias, intense, irrational fears of certain things or situations like dogs, closed-in places, heights, escalators, tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, and injuries involving blood are a few of the more common ones. Phobias aren't just extreme fear; they are irrational fear. "You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains with ease but panic going above the 10th floor of an office building."(NIMH, 1995) Adults with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but often facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

"Specific phobias strike more than 1 in 10 people. No one knows just what causes them, though they seem to run in families and are a little more prevalent in women. Phobias usually first appear in adolescence or adulthood. They start suddenly and tend to be more persistent than childhood phobias; only about 20 percent of adult phobias vanish on their own." When children have specific phobias for example, a fear of animals those fears usually disappear over time, though they may continue into adulthood. No one knows why they hang on in some people and disappear in others. (NIMH, 1995)The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders has said this about social phobias, one of the largest know phobias.

"Although phobias has classically been described as a fear of performance situations (e.g., public speaking, eating in public, writing in public), it is now recognized that many persons with social phobia—particularly those seen in clinical settings—suffer from a more pervasive form of the disorder that results in...
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