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A phobia or phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation the affected person will go to great lengths to avoid, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed.
It is generally accepted that phobias arise from a combination of external events (i.e. traumatic events) and internal predispositions (i.e. heredity or genetics). Many specific phobias can be traced back to a specific triggering event, usually a traumatic experience at an early age. Social phobias and agoraphobia have more complex causes that are not entirely known at this time. It is believed that heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combine with life-experiences to play a major role in the development of phobias.
As with any phobia, the symptoms vary by person depending on their level of fear. The symptoms typically include extreme anxiety, dread and anything associated with panic such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, nausea, inability to articulate words or sentences, dry mouth and shaking.
Everyone has a fear of some sort, but not all of us suffer from the type of pathological fear called a “phobia.” Some phobias are well known, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in an open area or in a large crowd, and Thanatophobia, which is the fear of death. (I think we can all relate to the latter.)
While perusing the list, let’s keep in mind that there are real people suffering from these phobias; understanding the phobias themselves will allow us to understand (and sympathize with) the tribulations of the sufferers.
Let’s have a look at the most unbearable phobias around us:
1. Ambulophobia – The Fear of Walking
Ambulophobia is the fear of walking. People who have this fear are afraid to walk anywhere at anytime. The origin of the word ambul is Latin (meaning walk) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).
2. Decidophobia – The fear of making decisions
Decidophobia (from Latin decido, “decision”) is the fear of making decisions. Sufferers may fear the most about making a wrong decision. Decidophobes are bothered about their life being full of choices.
The cause of decidophobia is usually a bad experience with decision making in the childhood, like an unwise decision that led to devastating consequences or witnessing that result in another individual. As a result sufferers would stick with the majority of the status quo.
Some sufferers may feel slightly uncomfortable, become nauseated or begin to perspire when confronting with decision. At the opposite end of this spectrum, other people are so severely impacted by their fear of making a decision, that they can experience full blown panic and/or anxiety attacks with symptoms like heightened senses, rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, trembling, dizziness, feeling out of control, and intense perception of incoming disaster.
Decidophobia, if left untreated, could devastate the individual’s life. There are several treatment options for decidophobia, including traditional talk therapy, self-help techniques, relaxation techniques, desenitisation therapy, exposure therapy, and hypnotherapy.
3. Epistemophobia (Gnosiophobia) – The Fear of Knowledge
Epistemophobia, also called gnosiophobia, is a fear of knowledge. Sufferers would limit their knowledge, avoid engaging in conversations, be ignorant and like to be alone, resulting in social anxiety. They would also avoid reading books, newspapers, magazines, and some would even avoid watching television.
Developing Epistemophobia is akin to placing a cognitive cap on your development. You can’t learn anymore, unless you’re willing to withstand unrelenting terror throughout the entire process, which would obviously impair your ability to even comprehend the new material in the first place.
This fear can be treated by simply teaching sufferers not to fear knowledge or learning, because they’re very important and part of everyone’s lives.
4. Cibophobia – The Fear of Food
Cibophobia (from Latin cibus, “food”), also known as sitophobia (from Greek sîtos, “wheat, bread”), is the fear of food. Sufferers may feel anxious when they eat as they may worry that a certain food could poison them. Cibophobes would limit eating foods. Cibophobia is usually caused by eating spoiled foods, getting poisoned by food, getting stomach upset by a certain food that made them vomit, or worrying that eating may make them fat. People who are allergic to food would more readily lead to cibophobia.
Treatment may involve desensitization wherein the feared food is gradually introduced until one is not anymore scared of eating the particular food. Psychotherapy may help as well as appetite stimulants especially for kids.
5. Somniphobia (Hypnophobia) – The Fear of Sleep
Hypnophobia (from Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep), also known as somniphobia (from Latin somni, “sleep”) orclinophobia, is the fear of going to sleep. This phobia is surprisingly common. Sleep disturbances like nightmares, work and relationship can leave a person more prone to developing hypnophobia. The subconscious world of dreams can give rise to all kinds of violent or disturbing images and usually those who have frequent nightmares experiences dreams of falling, dying or being humiliated.
Once hypnophobia is not the direct indication of sleep disorder or medical problem it often hints some deeper issues, dilemma and uncertainties can keep someone awake and the idea of sleeping peacefully is impossible. At times,insomnia and fear of sleeping affects the person’s daily life. The pattern of symptoms experienced usually varies from person to person, frequently depending on the severity of the phobia. For some people, the phobia causes them to feel uncomfortable and anxious when attempting to sleep and in more severe cases, attempting to sleep might provoke severe anxiety or panic attacks.
Treatment may involve medical intervention and may vary on the cause and severity of the phobia. If the cause is emotional problems and stress from work seeking help in the form of counseling or therapy is encouraged. And if panic attack becomes a symptom, panic treatment can be a way to break off physical and mental tension.
6. Acousticophobia – The Morbid Fear of Sounds, including your Own Voice
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Acousticophobia is best defined as the fear of sound or noise. Typical treatment for this type of phobia may take months or years, and patient might be required to be repetitively exposed into their fears.
The most common cause of Acousticophobia, like all other phobias, is generated by the mind as protective mechanism. As a whole, it is believed to be linked into past incidents of sounds or noise and of another emotional ordeal in the patient’s life. This past events get refreshed or ignited to the particular moments while watching television or movies, or in any social events.
Just like all other phobias, Acousticophobia can be easily concurred by simply controlling your emotions and with the help of a qualified counselor as well. These practitioners can use various methods and train your sensible mind to be able to connect various positive feelings to the stimulus that triggers the phobia. They can easily educate you how you can overcome the root which is causing fearful thoughts and images with sounds or noise.
7. Chronophobia – The Fear of The Passing of Time
Simply stated, Chronophobia is the morbid and irrational fear of time. For the most part, time is not necessarily a feared object or concept on its own, but rather that it may being moving too fast, or that the individual is unable to comprehend it.
Symptoms of Chronophobia can present either as a direct effect of Chronophobia, itself, or as an effect of another condition caused by Chronophobia. First of all, symptoms of Chronophobia include extreme and persistent anxiety, a disturbed state of mind, inability to comprehend time (it seems to either speed up or slow down at abnormal rates), circular thought, racing thoughts, and symptoms also associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
In severe cases, a full blown panic attack may set in. Panic attacks are short states of extreme anxiety and/or depression, during which the sufferer experiences a wide variety of symptoms. Symptoms of a panic attack include shaking or bodily convulsions, shortness of breath or general difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, rapid or irregular heart beat, loss of speech, tunnel vision, loss of vision, nausea, and vomiting.
8. Counterphobia – The Preference by a Phobic for Fearful Situations
Counterphobia is the term used to described those seeking a feared object or situation rather than avoiding it.
Dare-devil activities are often undertaken in a counterphobic spirit, as a denial of the fears attached to them, which may be only partially successful. Acting out in general may have a counterphobic source, reflecting a false self over-concerned with compulsive doing to preserve a sense of power and control.
Sex is a key area for counterphobic activity, sometimes powering hypersexuality in people who are actually afraid of the objects they believe they love. Adolescents, fearing sex play, may jump over to a kind of spurious full sexuality; adults may overvalue sex to cover an unconscious fear of the harm it may do. Such a counterphobic approach may indeed be socially celebrated in a postmodern vision of sex as gymnastic performance or hygiene, fueled by what Ken Wilber described as “an exuberant and fearless shallowness”. Traffic accidents have been linked to a counterphobic, manic attitude in the driver.
9. Phobophobia – The Morbid Fear of Developing a Phobia
President Roosevelt, in his famous inaugural speech, stated that “the only thing we need to fear is fear itself”. In some individuals, this actually rings true: they fear becoming anxious or get extremely overwhelmed at the thought of allowing themselves to become afraid of an object or situation. This fear of fear is termed as Phobophobia.
The word Phobophobia originates from the Greek word Phobos which means fear. The fear of fear phobia is often linked to Nosophobia (fear of getting sick), or Agoraphobia (which is the fear of being unable to escape or the fear of wide open spaces) as well as Claustrophobia (which is the fear of small and enclosed spaces). Mainly, phobophobic individuals fear embarrassing themselves or having an anxiety attack which then starts getting interlinked with specific situations or circumstances.
Thus, Phobophobia is a very self limiting and self replicating phobia in that; the sufferer already might have one or more existing phobias but continues to fear developing more. Converse is also true: a person may not be having any established phobia but may still continue to develop a fear of getting one that may entail curtailing his/her daily activities.
10. Pantophobia – The Fear of Everything
Pantophobia refers to the condition of having an abnormal, extreme, and persistent fear of everything.
Extreme fears (phobias) such as pantophobia can lead to a variety of disturbing symptoms such as breathlessness, difficulty in thinking or speaking clearly, dizziness, a dry mouth, a fear of dying, a fear of “going mad” or losing control, a sense of feeling sick, the inability to concentate, inability to make decisions that are usually simple, nausea, palpitations, shaking, sweating profusely, or a severe anxiety attack. Not all sufferers are affected by all possible symptoms, and some individuals may also have other reactions.
Even though many adult sufferers of pantophobia (and/or other fears/phobias) are aware that their fears are unreasonable, many still experience severe anxiety even when just thinking about the subject or situation they fear. However, phobias such as pantophobia are known and are a relatively common form of anxiety disorder that may be treated conventionally using cognitive behavioral therapy including exposure and fear reduction techniques. Drugs may also be offered, typically anti-anxiety or anti-depressants – particularly during the early stages of treatment. Other forms of treatment offered may include hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or other similar therapies.
Also Read: Weird phobia people actually have!
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