What Are Phobias

January 24, 2018
By ConConPie BRONZE, Las Angeles, California
ConConPie BRONZE, Las Angeles, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Phobias are the sources of restrictions and issues for many people in this world.  Countless different phobias exist, and many people are affected by one phobia or another. Nine percent of Americans deal with phobias in their lifetime.(6) That is over thirty million people, and it is crucial for people to learn how to treat and deal with their phobias. Also, it is society’s obligation to help and support people with phobias so they can deal with their symptoms. There are important aspects surrounding phobias that people should work to understand including knowing what causes phobias, how phobias affect people, and how to manage and treat phobias. 

 

The medical definition of a phobia is “an irrational fear, a kind of anxiety disorder in which the individual has a relentless dread of a situation, living creature, place, or thing.” (1) These fears usually come from a bad life experience with that creature, place, or thing. Others can come naturally, or form from noticing other people's reaction to these categories. For example, take arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders. According to experts, “For some people, it is a learned response: they learn to fear spiders after having seen others being fearful.”(2)  For others, it could be because of a personal encounter. These are the most common ways people develop phobias.(2) .


Phobias are really kinds of anxiety disorders caused by one’s brain. The amygdala is the part of the brain that is behind the causes of a phobia. (4)The amygdala causes one to react to scenarios such as jumping up when there is a loud crash. (5)The amygdala tells one that there is danger by making one feel fear. (5) However, this part of the brain can also make mistakes. It will usually make one of two mistakes, these mistakes are called false positives and false negatives. (4)A false positive is when the amygdala warns one of danger when there is none.(4)A false negative is where one’s amygdala communicates that there is no danger when there actually is.(4) Phobias are caused when a subject’s amygdala has made a false positive mistake. These false positive mistakes can be caused when a subject has had a negative situation with something such as a spider and, from then on, be perceived as threatening. When that subject comes into contact with a spider, the subject’s amygdala will have learned that this means danger and cause a fearful reaction that could evolve into a phobia.  

   
Humans are not the only species who can develop phobias. Dogs and cats can also get phobias. Most animals can create a phobia out of an immense fear, although, what we know about animals having phobias is very limited. People and animals have adapted to fear different things, like how humans have learned to fear other predatory animals. Phobias are the same way, cats and dogs have a common phobia of thunder.(8) There are common phobias to the human race because of how the human race has grown to know the difference between situations that are threatening and those that aren’t. One prominent theory about why arachnophobia is so common states that “early on in human evolution, spiders posed a threat, so we’ve developed a sort of hair-trigger reaction to them”.(7) This is a popular theory, but not everyone accepts it.


Having a phobia will change a person’s life.  Phobias can be caused by negative experiences people have had with an object or an animal. For other people, phobias can be a learned response. People will learn to fear certain things by seeing other people’s reaction to them. Phobias can make a person change their normal routine to avoid interacting with their phobia (1). Luckily, you can treat phobias. Treating phobias can put one with a phobia in an uncomfortable situation.  “The best treatment for specific phobias is a form of psychotherapy called exposure therapy.”(3). This therapy involves one to be exposed to their phobia. “Doctors may also recommend other therapies or medication.“(3) The type of phobia treatment depends on the person and the phobia.



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