What is the scientific reason for phobias

Phobias

What is a phobia?

The word phobia comes from the Greek word "phobos", which means fear. A phobia is an excessive fear of objectively harmless things or situations. A phobia severely restricts personal behavior. The danger for this fear does not have to be real, it may be enough to just imagine it. The causes of phobias or their intensification can be actual, past fearful experiences or childhood experiences and fears.

This fear of the object or situation can be scientifically explained as an inner instinct danger or instinct fear or a fear of the instinct breakout and its satisfaction in an object. There is a shift from the original instinctual object to the fear-inducing substitute object or the substitute situation. For example, if you have a spider phobia, this neurotic fear cannot be explained by the existence of spiders alone. For this one has to penetrate deeper into the instinct and need levels of a person.

In principle, all objects and all situations can trigger phobias and be occupied with fear. As a result, phobias in terms of content and subject matter are very numerous. One can suffer from one or more phobias.

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What phobias are there?

There are around 600 different phobias. A distinction is made between specific phobias and social phobias. With a social phobia one is afraid of a negative assessment of the environment. For example, you avoid being the center of attention, attracting negative attention or approaching others. With a specific phobia, one is afraid of a specific situation. Common types of specific phobia are fear of animals, confined spaces, fear of heights, fear of flying, or fear of contracting a dangerous disease.

Here are some more examples of common phobias:

  • Agoraphobia: the fear of vacancies
  • Agaraphobia: the fear of being touched
  • Bleeding phobia: the fear of washing and bathing
  • Acarophobia: the fear of insects
  • Aerophobia: the fear of inhaling or swallowing air, but also the fear of inhaling toxic gases and even the fear of drafts
  • Arachnophobia: the fear of spiders
  • Emetophobia: the fear of vomiting
  • claustrophobia: the fear of tight, closed spaces
  • Erythrophobia: the fear of blushing
  • Acrophobia: the fear of heights
  • Algophobia: the fear of sharp objects
  • xenophobia: the fear of the strange, the unknown, the unfamiliar (people and situations)
  • Dysmorphophobia: the fear of being ugly
  • Aviophobia: the fear of flying
  • What are the characteristics of a phobia?

    Those who suffer from a phobia are not specifically afraid of the objects or events themselves, but of the consequences associated with contact. It is often logically clear to those affected that their fear is unfounded, but they do not manage to get into the situation that scares them so much, so they spend a large part of their time avoiding this situation. Through this behavior, however, they also deny themselves the knowledge that they could endure the situation and that the situation is not dangerous. A phobia gets stronger over time and can have a strong influence on the entire daily routine and thus life.

    What are the causes of a phobia?

    Different causes can lead to developing a phobia:

  • Traumatic experience in a certain situation
  • Excessive demands or unresolved conflicts
  • Not overcoming a fear from childhood (fear of being alone, of thunderstorms)
  • Taking over the phobia of the parents
  • There are many other causes of phobias as well. With a phobia, it is always the case that the situation is assessed as dangerous and one imagines how bad it will be for one in the situation. It is not the situation as such that is the problem, but the assessment that is inappropriate to the situation.

    What are the symptoms of a phobia?

    The symptoms of a phobia affect thoughts, feelings, behavior, and the body in general. Symptoms include:

  • The thoughts revolve around danger
  • The likelihood of danger is overestimated
  • You can't concentrate on anything else
  • A feeling of fear
  • uncertainty
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Racing heart
  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Quickened breath
  • Sweating or shaking
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • nausea
  • Urge to urinate
  • Avoidance of the supposedly dangerous situation
  • Panic escape from the situation
  • Addictive behavior to numb the fear (alcohol, tablets ...)
  • What can you do about a phobia?

    If a phobia is recognized as this, it can usually be treated well with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Most often behavioral therapy is recommended, where a confrontational procedure is used. In the confrontation procedure, the person suffering from the phobia consciously exposes himself to the fear-inducing situation. The person should then consciously perceive that he or she need not be afraid of the situation, as there is no risk.

    Relaxation techniques or sports such as yoga also help to get the phobia under control. Of course, these aids are not a substitute for therapy. In general, there is also no universal recipe for overcoming a phobia. Every person and every phobia is different and must be viewed individually.

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