What Are Phobias

Understanding what phobias are?

Understanding What Phobias Are?

If you suffer from panic attacks and anxiety then there is high probably you have developed lots of phobias.  This is perfectly normal as sufferers tend to associate places, people or creatures with panicky feelings, and this leads to phobias.  I developed a whole number of phobias whilst I suffered from anxiety.  These included standing in queues, heights, social situations, driving on motorways, being in meetings at work, standing in crowds, driving over long bridges, etc. 

These tended to have one thing in common – the feeling of being trapped in a situation.  Therefore if you actually defined what I was suffering from is fitted more into agoraphobia than any other category of phobia.  I also definitely had a social phobia as well.  Most people believe that people who have agoraphobia are restricted to the confines of there home but this is frequently not the case.  Many people lead apparently ‘normal lives’ with agoraphobia however they have limits to where they can go, i.e. they can only travel with a certain radius of where they live. 

what are phobiasPhobias can be over come.  We were not born with phobias and they have been learnt by faulty thinking.   They are a just bad habit, that’s the way I looked at them during my recovery.  They are NOT a form of serious mental illness even though they can lead to intense feelings of fear.  They can also seriously lead to person life being restricted according to what they fear.   Below is a short quiz that will test how much you know about phobias.  The answers are at the bottom of the article.  Think of it as just a bit of fun and test yourself!


Phobias are:
A. A mild kind of mental health problem.
B. A disease.
C. A set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits.
D. A personality weakness.


Anxiety and fear are:
A. Natural reactions which are often useful.
B. A useless hangover from the days when people lived in caves.
C. A sign of weakness or cowardice.
D. Something we would be better off without.


People are said to have a phobia when:
A. They worry a lot.
B. They experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat.
C. They experience feelings of fear when they are in danger.
D. They feel frightened all the time.


The symptoms of fear are actually produced by:  
A. Unpleasant thoughts going round and round in the mind which can increase fear.
B. The pulse rate continually racing.
C. Adrenalin released into the bloodstream inappropriately.
D. Picking up 'bad vibes' from others can make people fearful.


Phobias are made worse by:
A. Staying in the situation that makes you anxious.
B. Not having an easy 'escape route' when anxiety starts to rise.
C. Reading too much about them.
D. Avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.


Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia:
A. Is an essential starting point for recovery.
B. Is useful for recovery but not essential.
C. Is relatively easy to discover.
D. Is not worth spending time and energy on.


The commonest single type of phobia is:
A. Fear of dogs.
B. Agoraphobia.
C. School phobia.
D. Dentist phobia.


The most effective way to overcome a phobia is usually:
A, By self-exposure treatment.
B. With tranquillisers.
C. By going into a psychiatric hospital for a period.
D. By avoiding things that trigger it.


The goals for recovery should be:
A. Set as high as possible.
B. Set at a realistic level.
C. Set by a professional therapist.
D. Set as low as possible.


The steps towards the recovery goal should be:
A. As close together as possible.
B. Limited to five.
C. Big enough to be worthwhile but not so big as to be too difficult.
D. As far apart as possible.

When fear becomes a phobia

Phobia comes from the Greek word meaning "fear" or "morbid fear”.   Phobias produce fear or anxiety which happens at a time when there is no logical reason. 

Our species has survived by having fear and anxiety to act as a bodyguard, to warn us of danger and protecting us when it’s near.  Phobias have emerged due to the body having a badly trained bodyguard which constantly overreacts and rings alarms bells in totally the wrong situations.

Sometimes the alarm bell is so frightening to some people that it keeps them confined to their own home in the belief that this is the only way to keep them safe.

If you are someone who has phobia then you are probably doing one of two things.

  1. Your reaction (anxiety levels) are not suitable to the level of danger you face
  2. You are taking unnecessary precautions to avoid dangers which are unfounded.

Many phobic people will go to any lengths to avoid the situation that make them anxious.  This is what they think will help them stay calm.  Therefore we know its more than just experiencing inappropriate levels of anxiety

A phobia is anxiety and avoidance put together

scared manPhobias unfortunately handicap people quite severely.  Imagine you have been locked up in jail unable to go outside or open your windows.  Well phobias can make you become like this.  People with phobias become virtual prisoners in there own home.  For others there life is less restricted but still certain areas become very difficult like driving, eating out, creatures, entering social situations and public places. 

When a friend or relative is talked through how fear and anxiety work it all seems very logical.  But for ‘normal people’ it’s very hard to comprehend.  They tend to think phobias are a weakness in the person character.  They don’t understand how the fear has arisen and quite how ill and frightened the person feels.  They totally misunderstand and are unable top comprehend the fear in involved. 

In future blog posts I intend to show you how to overcome phobias and the roadblocks to recovery you must avoid.

“It’s hard for everyone. It always seems like it’s hardest for you, but your success and your happiness has much more to do with understanding other people around you than it does with understanding yourself. And, guess what, the homecoming queen probably has crippling phobias too. It sounds cliche, but you have to think about everyone like they’re people, and suddenly you realize that 90% of teenagers have moments where they want to cut themselves, pull out their hair, punch their best friend and sit crying in the shower. And EVERYONE was once a teenager…that goes for your teachers, parents, rock idols, and grand parents…and those people all made it through.”   Hank Green



Question1 - Phobias are a set of deeply-ingrained thoughts and habits.
Question2 - Anxiety and fear are natural reactions which are often useful.
Question3 - People are said to have a phobia when they experience strong feelings of fear in situations that don't pose a real threat.
Question4 - The symptoms of fear are produced when adrenalin is released into the bloodstream inappropriately.
Question5 - Phobias are made worse by avoiding the situation that makes you anxious.
Question6 - Finding out the root cause of someone's phobia is not usually worth spending a lot of time and energy on.
Question7 - The commonest single type of phobia is agoraphobia.
Question8 - The most effective way to overcome a phobia us usually by self-exposure treatment.
Question9 - The goals for a recovery programme should be set at a realistic level,
Question10 - The steps towards the recovery goal should be big enough to be worthwhile, but no so big as to be too difficult.



Fear of suffocation and Claustrophobia

Fear & Anxiety in the Brain

Why Do Some People Suffer From Panic Attacks?

Why do you Fear?

What are the symptoms of Panic Attacks?

Prevent Panic Attacks - Challenging the Thoughts which Cause Panic

Tools of the Trade

Claustrophobia: finding your way out. Hope and help for people who fear and avoid confined spaces

How to Overcome Agoraphobia & Claustrophobia: Learn to Feel Calm & Think Calm (How to): Learn to Feel Calm and Think Calm [Audiobook] [Paperback]

Overcoming Panic and Agoraphobia

School Phobia, Panic Attacks and Anxiety in Children

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (Anxiety & Phobia Workbook)



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