Jun 25, 2018 in Sociology


What is Phobia?

Phobia is definitely one of the most common illnesses that is discussed on a daily basis not just by the professionals but rather of people from all walks of life. Generally speaking, phobia is defined as  being afraid of something in an irrational manner. This means that phobia makes a person feel scared of something without apparent acceptable reason as to why there is a certain feeling of fear.  The word phobia originates from the Greek work phobos which means fear characterized with morbidity. Taking a closer look of the origin of the word is the analysis that phobia is not just a simple fear but rather bears the character of intensity and persistence. To be specific, phobia is being characterized with intense fear on certain and specific or general actions, situations, people, things, activities and even animals. What happens if a certain person has phobia? The main reaction is to run away from the feared stimulus and essentially avoiding any possible contact with such stimulus. But the most fearsome and apparent output of phobia is the utter loss of control. Once the stimulus is there, people with phobia would instantly pose negative reactions triggered by intense and persistent fear.

Apparently, any person or any individual can exhibit phobia whose range is diverse in nature. There are individuals have phobia on waters, spiders, dark and any other known and unknown stimulus. People from all ages can have phobia and it is just in a matter of time for it to be fully exhibited. However, it has to be noted that phobias are not easily detectable unless there is an apparent distressing and overly negative reactions. Fear needs to qualify for phobia or else, it will just be considered as simple fear. But then again, there is a need to know the causes of phobia to understand people suffering from it.

Causes of Phobia

The causes of phobia are not yet being fully understood by any clinical studies conducted. However, there are many known and explained causes of phobia that will surely provide a greater understanding of phobia. The first known cause of phobia is cultural. By this it means that the various cultural factors affect the emotions of every individual and thus triggers phobia. In Japan, for example, there is a certain phobia that is being experienced by many residents and that is a social phobia. The Japanese are brought up with such confidence and hence the social phobia of being embarrassed in front of the society has been created among the Japanese, young and old. In this regard, it can be adduced that phobia can be something that is triggered by the culture. The manner in which a person has been brought up with plays an important factor in the creation of phobia. The environment that surrounds a certain person might trigger negative reactions and intense and persistent fear.

In this regard it can be seen that phobia can be manifested by a certain group of people only. Therefore, culture can ultimately trigger a certain phobia. There are other apparent situations that intensify the role of culture in creating phobia. Other example would be a person brought up in a family of a conservative upbringing where social life is apparently regulated. With this kind of situation, the person has the tendency to create social phobia. But then again, this is not to generalize since social phobia is being manifested by other group of people as well that are exposed on diverse environments. It could be a great contradictory to the explained cause but studies have proven that once a certain person has been exposed to a specific environment, the tendency is adaptation and because of that, phobia will be created in the long run.

To strengthen the claim that cultural factors affect the creation of phobia among individuals, a classic example of bullying as an activity constantly being experienced can be used. Once always being bullied, the victim will start developing a great and intense fear of people of greater strength that can be manifested through physical or material assets. Such phobia can carry on for the longest time possible.

Another cause of phobia that is the most common known triggering factor is life experiences. It cannot be denied that life experiences can make or break a certain person. Real life events have played an important role in the mind-setting of every person. This only means that what happens in real life can contribute to the development of positive or negative emotions. For example, when a person has experienced the very best of life by attaining all and everything that the person wants, life can be easy and happy. With that, the emotions that are being developed are good and positive. However, if a person experience the worst of life and tragic ones, it cannot be denied that phobia can become the apparent result. As an example, take a look at a person who has been bitten by dogs. Such a bad experience can make that person scared of dogs for the rest of his life and will eventually avoid any possible contact with dogs as much as possible. Life experiences can be the cause of trauma which will eventually lead to phobia. Another known example is a child who almost fell from a tree. With such a tremendous amount of fear created, the child might grow fearing heights and might continue to fear the same unless treated.  There are also other causes of phobia that can be mentioned and define but it will all boil down into the emotional responses made by every single human beings in the planet to life their life experiences especially for the difficult undertakings.

Types of Phobia and their Effects

Phobia can come from different types and has varying effects as well. But the most known types of phobia are the following:

Social Phobia

This phobia is being associated with the fear of people. Anything that has a relation with crowds, people and even social institutions. This type of phobia can be associated with a high level of social anxiety disorder. As a matter of fact, social phobia is now considered as the 3rd largest mental disorder in the world. In the United States of America alone, there is an approximately 15 million of residents that are suffering from social phobia. Regardless of the fact that social anxiety is a proliferated issue, many doctors and health care workers are still at lost in fully understanding the situation. More often than not, social phobia is being misdiagnosed and labeled to schizophrenia, manic depression, personality disordered and other mental health disorder.  The symptoms of this phobia are hard to determine. But the apparent ones can be pointed out to finding it difficult to write in public as triggered by fear of people. The hands will shake as the thought that there are people watching them intensifies. Excessive level of being an introvert is also one of the main symptoms. This kind of phobia is so crucial as it can destroy one's life. Imagine a person with social phobia not being able to urinate with the fear of less privacy. Imagine someone who is not able to handle a job very well because of social anxiety. Life can be very and extremely difficult. There are cases reported wherein a person find it hard to call a business office for fear that the other person might get angry. Also, there are other reported cases wherein a woman finds it hard to stand amidst the crowd for fear that everyone is watching her. Another notable case is a man finding it hard to walk across the street for fear that everyone is watching him. What makes these situations alarming is the degree of fear that are being felt by the subject.

Specific Phobia

Probably the most common phobia that is being experienced by many people is the specific phobia. This kind of phobia pertains to fear that is being triggered by certain actions or animals. For example, the phobia being manifested against spiders, heights, snakes, water and even dogs. Another common example is the fear of catching a certain illness. But it has to be remembered that specific phobias are mostly being described as fear of a low degree or level only. Meaning to say it is of a lesser degree of fear exhibited only.  To categorized, specific phobias can be referred to as animal type which obviously means being afraid of certain animals. Another category is the natural environment type. This kind of phobia is generally associated with a fear on phenomenon or any natural and atmospheric activity. Classic examples of this are the fear of heights, water, thunderstorms, lightning, earthquake and even the process of aging. One of the most irrational specific phobia is the situational phobia wherein a person is exhibiting irrational fear of confined small places and of the dark. Fear of clowns, blood, injection, and even the fear of the number of 13 are considered specific phobia that are controlling the emotions and the reactions of every person suffering from it.


This type of phobia is associated with the fear of leaving one's abode for the thought that once they stepped out of their house something bad is going to happen. This kind of phobia is more inclined into safety issues or the lack thereof. As an effect, people with agoraphobia find it hard to step out of the house and the feeling of anxiety grows outside. The typical effect of this kind of phobia is sweating, palpitating, lack of sense of ease, discomfort and many more apparent manifestations of such fear.

Phobia among College Students

The most common phobia that are being experienced by college students is the social phobia. It The truth of the matter is that every student who is entering into college gets nervous just by the thought of going into universities and colleges. More often than not, these students are experiencing extreme self-consciousness regardless of whether they are already in college or a freshman. The thoughts of whether or not the college or university community will accept them came rushing in to the minds of the college students. Hence, developing an excessive and high degree of fear for people and fellow college students. The triggering factor on this case might be pointed out to the desire to blend in to the community. It is a common knowledge that college life is difficult when you do not belong on a certain group or circle of friends. The society has perceived a university or a college to be that where people belong in sororities or other fraternities to ensure that they will not be labeled as outcast. But then again, such kind of thinking and perception has created a cretin high level and degree of fear among the students. The question being asked is: what if I will not be able to get myself to belong a group?

This is where fear is manifested and exhibited intensely. As a result of which, many students are creating certain personalities to belong while some of them are not able to successfully win over the pressure and suddenly lose it. They created their own world. They fear that other people are talking about them behind their backs and they fear that people are looking and scrutinizing their every move. With this kind of situation, it cannot be denied that college students are no longer living a life that they should neither they are functioning the way they are supposed to. Students who are suffering from anxiety disorder or social phobia tend to shy away from people and the society. They do not want to get attention from the public. They cannot stand to classroom recitation and would rather work on their own and at the backstage.

Treatment and Prevention

Phobia manifested itself in a range of ways--sweating, nausea, increased heart and breathing rates, agitated thinking, shaky hands, weakness in the joints, sleeplessness, and even chest pains and constriction that mimicked heart attacks. The effect of phobia is some other condition rather than a condition in itself. Whenever patients reported anxiety, the practice of the time was to search for conscious and/or unconscious conflicts related to childhood experiences that might be causing it. So the traditional orientation actually deflected psychiatrists' attention away from anxiety, encouraging every individual to ignore or look past someone's painful, often disabling feelings and symptoms. In retrospect, it should be realized that medical practitioners and other people were so preoccupied with trying to divine the "real meaning" of phobia in Freudian terms that they failed to hear much of what  the patients were telling about what was really troubling them. And in the search for an underlying problem, the only thing that has been given is a short shrift to the extreme discomfort that phobia, in all its physical and psychological manifestations, caused. At about that time, a great many articles on phobia began to appear in scientific journals, many written by people that are regarded highly in the field. Increasingly, in the early 1980s, phobia in all its aspects, categories and specifications emerged as psychiatric conditions in their own right, and reports began surfacing on two ways of treating them: either pharmacologically or with cognitive and behavioral therapies. (The latter are newly developed therapies that focus on changing thoughts [cognitions] or specific behaviors.) The idea of developing a clinic--a separate, personalized unit within a large, sometimes faceless institution--began to attract more people suffering from phobia (especially those in higher level of manifestations).  Hence, the methods of treating and preventing phobia has increasingly been given attention (De Jongh, 1999).

Other mode of treatments that should be used in the quest to phobia is counseling. It is a known fact that one of the major cause of phobia is life experiences. Hence, a need of counseling arises. The purpose of counseling is to free a person to bad past life experiences. It has to be rooted out for that is only the time where the person can really be freed. For example, there are children or youth that were brought up in a family where the parents are verbally abusive. The children and the youth can sometimes be exposed to parents who would call their children something bad and parents who would not even dare to believe to their own children. These situations can cause a person to feel low about themselves which can later developed into social phobia. Inferiority for one is a sign of social phobia. A person with excessive inferiority complex tends to shy away from the crowd with the thought that the crowd is looking down at the person's being. With counseling, it cannot be denied that such negative thinking can be corrected which will later on develop a positive output in life and self-confidence. Most of the phobia that are attributed to life experiences have to be counseled in order to ensure that the main cause of such phobia is addressed. If its anger or humiliation caused by other people that kind of emotion should be treated.

Counseling has proven its capability to heal wounds of the past and to allow and enable people to move on with their lives and live happily. Counselors are always there to lend a helping hand and ears that listen to solve problems and mysteries of life. It should be remembered that to prevent and treat phobia one has to establish trust once more and to have a renewal of the mind in order to live a normal life far from being overly self-conscious.

Exposure to support groups will always make a life changing experience. This is particularly helpful among people with social phobia. What is a support group? A support group is an organization or a circle of friends where a person will feel most attached and supported. The group will help a person with social phobia to explore all the potentials and the good about themselves. Since most of the people with social phobia shy away from the crowd, having a constant companion will make them more secured and safe. They no longer need to fear going into parties or events because they have a companion which will make them feel that they belong and that they have friends to cling on.

Another powerful way of treating is the exposure therapy. This therapy will allow people with phobia to face their fear head on. It might sound irrational at first but the logic is there is nothing that will cure phobia than to face the fear. One must not hide from it. For example, if a person has a phobia on dentist, the exposure therapy will enable that person to first sit in the waiting room. Such kind of activity must be done and practiced constantly and consistently as possible. Once the patient has already accustomed to sitting in the dentist's clinic while waiting, it could be leveled up to going in a conversation with the dentist himself until such level of ease and comfort is achieved. The level and degree of the activity should increase with each passing day until such time that the patient can already sit in the dentist's operating chair with such a tremendous amount of comfort and ease. It will surely take a while to accomplish this but nothing is more comforting than to see any person with phobia to actually face their fear and overcome it.


With all the foregoing it cannot be denied that phobia is a serious problem that are being faced bot just by the college students but also by the majority of all people. The degree of phobia ranges from the fear of snakes, rats, dogs to social phobia and agoraphobia. As defined, it is an irrational fear. With this, it can be said that people with phobia cannot be blamed for the fear that they are feeling. No one can reason with them as well. Hence, the only thing that can be done in order to treat it is to address the roots and the reasons why phobia is being experienced. There are many causes of phobia. But the most known are the life experiences. Good and bad life experiences can break or make a person. Bad experiences cause fear to many people regardless of the age, race, environment and even educational experience. It can be experienced by anyone in the world.

But then again, it has to be considered that once a phobia has been manifested and exhibited, it should be given immediate treatments and if necessary therapy. Why? This is for a simple reason that phobia can make a person exhibit negative emotions and reactions. Such things might be harmful not just for the person suffering from it but rather to other people as well. Reports have it that there are college students who are suffering from social phobia that have committed suicide because they can no longer take the pressure. There are some who are resorting to bad activities that are directly affecting other people.

Serious problems such as phobia must be given serious approach. Intensified marketing of support group and other activities that will promote healthy lifestyle to every college student and every person in general will go a long way in increasing the awareness of people on phobia.

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