Are you very afraid of spiders? What about water, heights, flying or a specific illness? Many people have a fear of these things, but to a much lesser degree than someone who is said to be suffering a specific phobia. What are the different types of phobias and the most common phobias?
A phobia is a type of anxiety behaviour, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. Usually when phobias are discussed it is in terms of specific phobias and social phobias. Specific phobias are exactly what the name implies, fear of a specific item be it a spider or heights. Social phobias are the fear of social events such as public speaking and crowded areas. Phobias are generally classified into three categories:
- Social phobia – Fear involving other people or social situations. Usually very hard to cure without the help of therapy or support groups.
- Specific phobias – Fear of a single specific panic-trigger. This can include many things such as dogs, ants, radio waves, etc. Usually people suffering from this type of phobia will avoid the entity they fear altogether.
- Agoraphobia – A generalized fear of leaving home or a small, safe area and the panic attacks that they are sure will follow. This fear can be caused by a specific fear, such as the fear of open spaces, social embarrassment, contamination, etc.
The severity of phobias varies greatly among the sufferers. Also, most people know they are suffering from an irrational fear but are unable to overcome the phobia without help. Following is a list of the generally accepted ten most common phobias:
- Agoraphobia – This phobia encompasses both the fear of wide open places/outdoors, and of crowds. Essentially, it is a fear linked to the loss of control an individual has over their environment in these conditions. This is easy to understand, as loss of control is generally undesirable to most people.
- Claustrophobia – Abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces. This fear of confined spaces can include places with undesirable attributes such as a prison cell or principal’s office. But for some people this fear can include elevators, cars, etc., that will greatly handicap a person from leading a normal life.
- Acrophobia — Phobic and irrational fear of heights. People can experience panic attacks in high rise situations and are unable to function as their anxiety levels increase.
- Mysophobia — More commonly referred to as germaphobia, this is an abnormal fear of dirt, germs, or contamination. Usually associated with obsessive compulsive disorder because it involves an obsession with cleanliness.
- Necrophobia — Fear of corpses or dead things in general. Thanatophobia is the fear of death, but is used interchangeably with necrophobia by many. Necrophobia usually occurs among people with a predisposition to worrying and a family history of anxiety.
- Brontophobia — Irrational fear of thunder or lightning.
- Carcinophobia — The fear of cancer. Although most people worry a little about getting cancer, people who suffer from carcinophobia often can’t function normally due to their fear.
- Aviophobia — The irrational fear of flying. People with this phobia are certain that any plane they are on will crash. This can affect normal life as people with this fear will normally refuse to travel by plane.
- Arachnophobia — An irrational and intense fear of spiders. It is said that half of all women and 10 percent of men suffer from this phobia.
- Social phobia — A particularly damaging phobia. While mistaken for extreme shyness by some people, this phobia is actually an intense fear of being around people — even groups of only two or three people.