Specific anxieties and phobias

Everyone has fears

Each one of us has a set of dreaded objects, real or imaginary. Someone may fear dogs or cats or rats or snakes or spiders; others may be consciously troubled by the thought of a natural calamity earthquake or flood or volcano; and yet others may quiver and faint at the sight or even the mention of blood. Some people are afraid of closed spaces while others may fear going to open marketplaces alone. All these apprehensions are irrational and uncalled for. They interfere with the way one normally thinks, feels behaves. They hinder one from living a so-called ‘normal’ life. They are not just ‘normal’ fears.

Fear vs. Phobia

People who harbor uncertainties about these dreaded objects usually endorse their apprehensions. They see no purpose in hiding them from the world because they would do anything to stay far form them. It is natural to fear an earthquake or volcano; likewise it’s normal to dread a snake in your backyard. Few people love spiders or cockroaches or lizards; and dripping blood is not something ordinarily exciting to anyone (unless we believe in vampires of course!) Fear of 90% of these objects is natural. However, when this fear reaches generous proportions and begins to interfere with everyday functioning, it qualifies as a phobia.

Avoidance of the feared object

People try their level best to avoid situations that they fear. Someone who fears closed spaces prefers to spend 24 long hours on a train rather than take a flight to the desired destination and chooses to walk up 12 floors instead of taking the ‘enclosed’ elevator. One who fears blood would never step into a hospital, ever donate blood or even go for annual blood tests! People with phobias manage to maintain normal lives if they can avoid the phobic object. This occasionally becomes routine and one can live a usual life for as long as one assures avoidance of those feared situations and objects.

When catastrophe strikes

A real terror attack doesn’t generate as much turmoil for a phobic individual as does confrontation with their feared object. It may be a small spider within an enclosed box or even a video of it on television; which can generate the reaction. The fear is so intense that even the thought of a facing the object can generate a bout of anxiety. It may comprise extreme unease, trembling, dry mouth, perspiring, shaking, and progressing often to a panic attack. Some such responses simulate a heart attack and may be misdiagnosed. In blood injection type of phobia, the response is usually initial anxiety and restlessness followed by transient, short lived fainting spell. Needless to say, phobic individual + their feared object = a recipe for disaster.

Why phobias occur

Specific phobias may be genetically transmitted. Also, the applied learning theory states that a previous negative experience with an object or situation, allows the individual to repeatedly reduce anxiety by avoiding that situation, hence the accompanying phobia becomes doubly strong. Some phobias may be learned by simple observation, like a child fearing thunder when he sees his mother looking scared during a storm. Needless to say, once learned, these lose rational base and continue to irk the conscious and subconscious mind of the sufferer and make the anxiety and avoidance behavior troublesome.

There is hope

Phobias require restructuring of the faulty learning principles so the feared behavior is unlearned. MINDFRAMES offers therapy techniques such as relaxation training, situational exposure, exposure with cognitive restructuring, and social skills training for management of phobias. Medication helps assist the management of depression and/or anxiety that usually co-exist due to the individual’s negative perceptive configuring of the specific feared object.

Signs of Specific phobia

People fear the simplest and most trivial of objects and situations. For them the fear is very real

  • Unreasonable fear of an object
  • Attempts to avoid the object
  • Avoidance becomes intrusive
  • Anxiety on facing the object
  • Preoccupation with the object
  • Exceptional fear cue sensitivity
  • This fear is truly excessive
  • Anticipating catastrophe always
  • May cause situational panic attack
  • Person realizes the irrationality
  • However change seems difficult

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I faint every time I see or even think about blood?
You probably have a specific blood-injection type of a phobia in which on seeing blood your brain sends some signals to your heart which stops beating for a brief moment; and that is what makes you faint. You can use applied tension and applied relaxation to overcome this blood phobia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can medicine cure me of my fear of heights?
Medicine can assist in reducing your anxiety. To overcome the fear you need behavior therapy techniques like applied relaxation, systematic desensitization, with techniques like exposure coupled with cognitive restructuring.

Frequently Asked Questions

I was bitten by a dog since then I have a phobia of dogs, isn’t that understandable?
Your traumatic experience has made you over cautious so you avoid dogs. At the same time the persistent fear and constant pre-occupation in your mind is not warranted & deserves attention.