A phobia is an irrational fear of something that is unlikely to cause harm or happen. The word itself comes from the Greek word “Phobos”, which means fear or horror. Phobias come in all shapes and sizes. Because there are an infinite number of objects and situations, the list of specific phobias is quite long. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that causes an individual to experience extreme irrational fear about a situation, a living creature, a place, or an object. When a person has a phobia, they will often shape their lives to avoid what they consider to be dangerous. The imagined threat is greater than any actual threat posed by the cause of terror. Phobias are diagnosable mental disorders. The person will experience intense distress when faced with the source of their phobia. This can prevent them from functioning normally and sometimes leads to panic attacks.
The most common phobias include:
- Claustrophobia: Fear of being in constricted, confined spaces.
- Aerophobia: Fear of flying.
- Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
- Driving phobia: Fear of driving a car.
- Emetophobia: Fear of vomiting.
- Erythrophobia: Fear of blushing.
- Hypochondria: Fear of becoming ill.
- Zoophobia: Fear of animals.
- Aquaphobia: Fear of water.
- Acrophobia: Fear of heights.
- Blood, injury, and injection (BII) phobia: Fear of injuries involving blood.
- Escalaphobia: Fear of escalators.
- Tunnel phobia: Fear of tunnels.
These are just some of the common phobias. People can develop a phobia from almost anything. Also, as society changes, the list of potential phobias changes. For instance, nomophobia is the fear of being without a cell phone or computer. As described in one paper, it is “the pathologic fear of remaining out of touch with technology.”
Manifestations of phobias include, but are not limited to, a sensation of uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the source of fear; a feeling that the source of that fear must be avoided at all costs; not being able to function properly when exposed to the trigger; acknowledgment that the fear is irrational, unreasonable, and exaggerated combined with an inability to control the feelings.