The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
It’s human nature to have fears, but phobias are an extreme or irrational aversion to something. Worldwide phobias affect between five and ten people in every one hundred, and are commonly grouped into social phobias, agoraphobia and specific phobias.
Women are much more prone to have irrational fears than men, and nearly 4.25% of the world’s population is gripped by crippling fears. It is estimated that one in four people suffers from a fear of flying to a certain degree.
The most common phobias worldwide are widespread. The most prevalent is arachnophobia, which is a crippling fear of spiders and tends to affect women more than men. The second most widespread is ophidiophobia which is a fear of snakes. It is often attributed to being an evolutionary response or down to cultural influences. Acrophobia is the third most prevalent which is a fear of heights and most frequently manifests itself in panic attacks. Agorapobia, or the fear of being unable to escape, is the next most prevalent. Approximately one third of people who suffer from a panic disorder develop agoraphobia.
Other fears which are prevalent are cynphobia, or the fear of dogs, astraphobia which is a fear of thunder and lightning, trypanophobia which is a fear of injections, social phobia whereby sufferers fear social situations and suffer anxiety attacks. Pteromerhanophobia is a fear of flying, which is most frequently treated using exposure therapy whereby the sufferer is slowly exposed to their phobia. Mysophobia is another prevalent phobia which is a fear of germs, which can often be related to obsessive compulsive disorder.
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Phobias: The Facts
‘An extreme or irrational fear of something or aversion to something’
Many people at some stage in their life will suffer from a type of phobia, some to a greater extent than others. Phobias can be divided into three main categories:
Social: fear of social and public situations.
Agoraphobia: a generalized fear of leaving home or a small familiar ‘safe’ area, and of possible panic attacks that might follow.
Specific Phobias: fear of a single specific panic trigger.
The causes of phobias differ from person to person but most phobias can be easily treated through a variety of different methods.
All 3 types of phobias: social, agoraphobia, and specific are likely to effect between 5 and 10 people in every 100.
There are roughly 11.5 million suffers in the United States and 2.5 million in the United Kingdom.
Females are more prone to irrational fears than males.
1 in 23 people suffer from phobias, nearly 4.25% of the population.
As many as 25% of people suffer from a fear of flying to a certain degree.
Over 100 Different Types of Recognized Phobias
Top 10 Common Phobias
- Arachnophobia: Fear of Spiders – tends to affect more women than men.
- Ophidiophobia: Fear of Snakes – often attributed to evolutionary causes, personal experiences, or cultural influences.
- Acrophobia: Fear of Heights – can lead to panic attacks and avoidance of high places.
- Agoraphobia: Fear of situations where escape is difficult – approximately one third of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia.
- Cynophobia: Fear of dogs – often linked to personal experiences such as being bitten by a dog, especially as a child.
- Astraphobia: Fear of Thunder and Lightning – also known as Brontophobia, Tonitrophobia, or Ceraunophobia.
- Trypanophobia: Fear of injections – often goes untreated as people avoid the situations where they might be confronted by it.
- Social Phobia: Fear of social situations – people tend to avoid events that could trigger an anxiety attack such as events, people, and places.
- Pteromerhanophobia: Fear of flying – often treated using exposure therapy, where a person is slowly exposed to their phobia.
- Mysophobia: Fear of germs or dirt – can be related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
10 Unusual Phobias
- Xanthophobia: Fear of the colour yellow.
- Turophobia: Fear of cheese.
- Somniphobia: Fear of falling asleep.
- Omphalophobia: Fear of the navel.
- Nomophobia: Fear of being without mobile coverage.
- Hippopoto-monstro-sesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words. (Example of a long word: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis)
- Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
- Phobophobia: Fear of fear itself.
- Pogonophobia: Fear of beards.
- Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of the Number 13.
Symptoms of Phobias
- Pounding or Racing Heart
- Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Speech or Inability to Speak
- Dry Mouth
- Upset Stomach or Nausea
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Trembling or Shaking
- Chest Pain or Tightness
- Choking Sensation
- Dizziness or Light-Headedness
- Profuse Sweating
- Sense of Impending Doom
Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler, and Mussolini all suffered from Ailurophobia, a fear of cats.
Alfred Hitchcock suffered from Ovophobia,fear of eggs.
Walt Disney suffered from Musophobia, fear of mice.
Johnny Depp suffers from Coulrophobia, fear of clowns.
Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower), suffered from Acrophobia, fear of heights.
Donald Trump suffers from phobia of shaking hands.
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