The term phobia is derived from the Greek language elements phobos (irrational fear, terror, panic) and phobien ("to put to flight").
Types of Phobias
Simple Phobias / Specific Phobias
Simple phobias are irrational, ongoing fears coupled with compelling desires to avoid certain situations or things. Because these fears are connected a particular object or circumstance, they are also known as specific phobias. Many common phobias fit into this category:
- Fears around transportation, like the fear of flying or traveling across bridges
- Animal phobias, such as the fear of snakes
- Medical fears, i.e. white coat syndrome, the fear of doctors or fear of needles
- Other specific phobias like the fear of clowns
Per the name, these phobias are connected to social situations. In some cases, a fear of impending danger is at the heart of the fear, such as fearing being in a crowd. In other cases, a person may fear being watched or judged, as in the common fear of public speaking.
These phobias are marked by fears not rational given the situation, are unexplainable by the affected individual and beyond voluntary control. These phobias often coincide with correlated obsessive compulsive disorders.
Phobia Causes and Treatment
In most cases, the person experiencing a phobia has had some measure of a negative experience with the event or thing serving as the object of the fear.
This experience could have happened recently or earlier in childhood.
Often, the media and popular culture will reinforce phobias. The fears of snakes, flying and public speaking are examples of common phobias that have been depicted on TV, in movies and in the news.
Treatment often begins with identifying the root cause of phobias. Adapting a more realistic mindset of the fear, along with systematic desensitization are also common treatment strategies. Professional help in the form of therapy is also a time-honored treatment modality.