Is Your Fear Irrational?

Abstract word cloud for Phobia with related tags and terms

A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.  Ok, I can work with that.  Of the things I truly fear, I think the absolute annoyance I feel when someone is chewing loudly is probably my most irrational.  But COME ON, how can someone not realize they are chewing so loud I can’t hear the television?

What kind of things scare or annoy the crap out of you?

  • Thanks to 9/11, I am not a big fan of being in tall buildings (acrophobia);
  • Thanks to Jaws, I was too afraid of what lurks in the ocean’s depths (thalassophobia) to complete the scuba lessons I paid for;
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” pretty much put me off of all things winged (ornithophobia);
  • Spiders (arachnophobia)? Snakes (opidiophobia)? Yep they’re both on my list!
  • Loud chewing bugs the crap out of me (Misophonia)…and I’m sure there are others

I was surprised to find out that some of these things that I fear have actual scientific names and qualify as phobias, even in extreme cases, could be described as anxiety disorders.  Hmmm

Medial News Today takes the basic definition above and adds that a phobia can be labeled as, “an anxiety disorder in which the individual has a relentless dread of a situation, living creature, place or thing.”  In extreme cases a person starts to organize their life around avoiding that which they fear.  If they are met by the source of their fear, and in some cases even if they think about it, they suffer enormous emotional distress and often total panic and meltdown.

Phobia Fast Facts

  • Phobias are much more serious than simple fears.
  • Over 50 million people in the US have a phobia.
  • Females more commonly suffer from phobias than males.
  • Phobias often have their origins in early life.
  • Despite phobic individuals being aware that their fear is irrational, they can not control the feelings.
  • Symptoms may include sweating, chest pains, and pins and needles.
  • Specific brain areas have been found to be involved in phobias.

Hmmm  I don’t think I’m that bad.  I don’t like it, but I do go in tall buildings, I have been known to snorkel from a boat in deep water, I yell & jump if I am near a spider (then squish it) but it doesn’t alter my day, birds I just don’t like and avoid but I don’t melt down, and loud chewers?  I can leave the room.  None of those cause me to alter my life to avoid them, so I’m pretty sure I don’t really suffer from any phobias.  Whew!

Some of those I came across, with “phobia” as part of their name were not phobias at all, instead they are words used to describe a prejudice or a term that discriminates like:

  • Homophobia:  not a fear of, rather a dislike of homosexual people
  • Ephebiphobia: dislike of youths or teenagers by older people
  • Xenophobia: a dislike of strangers, foreigners or the unknown

Some are Simple Phobias:  a disproportionate fear about specific situations, living creatures, places, activities, or things like

– Dentists (dentophobia)
– Bats (chiroptophobia)
– Dogs (cynophobia)
– Flying (aviophobia)
– Snakes (opidiophobia)
– Birds (ornithophobia)
– Frogs (ranidaphobia).

Some are Complex Phobias:   linked to a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about certain situations, incidents or circumstances, which make them much more disabling than simple phobias and would be pretty hard to live with in everyday life:

  • Agoraphobia a helpless feeling of panic when traveling via public transportation, going into large shops or shopping malls. The most severe sufferers may be unable to leave their home.
  • Social Phobia (a.k.a. Social Anxiety Disorder)  being in social situations is emotionally paralyzing for sufferers, who fear judgement, embarrassment or humiliation as a result of being the center of attention.  Being forced to speak or act on a stage would terrify those suffering from this disorder. 

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Robert Haining took the time to compile a list of phobias.  The things that are there are head scratching and really, really make this thalassophobic girl go HMMM.

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