Spiders, rats, mice, and snakes are just some of the common animals people are afraid of. But what if the fear gets in the way of life?
Phobia versus fear
Phobia is a response to something that is not a threat. This is why phobias are sometimes called irrational fears. The response is so intense it may interfere with your ability to function or perform daily tasks.
Many fears had been reasonable or useful in the past or are even useful nowadays. For example, certain snakes or spiders can be poisonous and therefore dangerous, while other animals might carry illnesses. The fear of certain animals might be genetic which is what professionals call ‘preparedness’. Even a few months old toddlers react with enlarged pupils when shown pictures of spiders whereas pictures of flowers in the same color do not have the same effect.
How do phobias develop?
Often, traumatic past experiences play a role. Many people with phobias describe a specific experience that has elicited the phobia. In addition, phobias can be transmitted through stories, films, and the behaviour of parents.
How many people do have phobias?
More than 10% suffer from phobias, according to studies significantly more women than men. Among the animal phobias, the fear of spiders is the most frequent, occurring in about 5.6% of women and 1.2% of men.
How do phobias affect everyday life?
People with phobias do their best to avoid the animal (or situation) they are phobic about. This can be quite significant and influence people’s lives to the point of, for example, not being able to go swimming for fear of water snakes lurking in the water. These behaviours of avoidance actually increase the intensity of the phobia.
Do phobias disappear with time?
No, they don’t. Even if the animal is avoided, the phobia often remains for a lifetime and determines the person’s experience of living.
What can be done about phobias?
There are different kinds of treatments that people suggest: from exposition therapy to psychotherapy using neurolinguistic programming.
What are the chances of a phobia getting healed?
It is important to differentiate between a natural fear and a phobic response. We want to remain responsible and prepared for the potential danger a poisonous snake might offer but the aim is to resolve the unrealistic fear or phobia that impedes the experience of life.
If you’d like to treat your phobia make an appointment today.
Image Credit: Photo by Flash Dantz on Unsplash