Firstly, it’s useful to define what a phobia actually is … the NHS Choices website defines phobias as ‘an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.” It is more extreme than fear in the normal everyday sense and develops when a person has an exaggerated or irrational perception of danger or threat about a situation or object. So, for example, being a bit wary of spiders isn’t the same as being arachnophobic. Phobias aren’t always entirely irrational – in the sense that some spiders, for example, ARE dangerous and should be avoided. But a phobia will assume that ALL spiders – even a tiny house spider – is a threat.
So what are the 5 most common? (be warned – there are pictures!)
- Arachnophobia – fear of spiders. Arachnophobia is the most common phobia – sometimes even a picture can induce feelings of panic. And lots of people who aren’t phobic as such still avoid spiders if they can. I held a tarantula a few years ago (in a controlled environment with its handler sitting next to me!) …. Funnily enough that doesn’t make getting rid of one in the bathroom any easier!)
- Opidiophobia – fear of snakes. This perhaps has its roots on culture and evolution – many snakes are poisonous so avoiding them was an essential survival tactic. Luckily in the UK, there is less likelihood of encountering one.
- Agoraphobia – fear of situations where escape is difficult. This can lead to people avoiding all sorts of different situations – open spaces, crowded places, etc. It can get so severe that some sufferers end up not wanting to leave their homes at all. As such, agoraphobia can be very limiting.
- Cynophobia – fear of dogs. This is something that resonates with me. For as long as I can remember, I was always extremely nervous around dogs … and would take avoiding action whenever I could. Unfortunately I inadvertently passed that fear onto my daughter, who picked up on my reluctance to engage with or even go near a dog. The picture here, however, is of us both with our lovely dog George …. We love him to bits and wouldn’t be without him!
And that’s the great news – you CAN get rid of your phobia!
For help with getting over a phobia or fear, contact me at: