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Phobia Variations Defined and Explained


Psychiatrists define a phobia as a type of anxiety disorder that consists of a morbid and irrational fear of a specific object or situation associated with severe anxiety, and recognized by the subject to be unreasonable or unwarranted. It is more than fear, however, for the feared object or situation must be avoided, or can be endured only with marked distress, because of the anxiety response or panic attack that it almost invariably provokes. This condition is also known as angst.

Two major forms of phobias are recognized:

1. Specific phobia (also known as simple phobia or isolated phobia).

The essential feature of a specific phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of, and compelling desire to avoid, specific objects or situations. This kind of phobia is characterized by a relatively specific fear of an object or situation. The range of stimuli that may elicit a fearful response is narrower than in other phobic disorders and such phobias are sometimes also referred to as simple phobias.

Examples of specific phobias include the following groups of excessive fears.

Some animal dreads: entomophobia, apiphobia, arachneophobia, batrachophobia, equinophobia, ichthyophobia, musephobia, murophobia, ophidiophobia, ornithophobia, and zoophobia.

Samples of natural terrors: acluophobia, nyctophobia, acrophobia, hysophobia, anemophobia, astraphobia, aurophobia, brontophobia, keraunophoia, ombrophobia, potomophobia, and siderophobia.

Examples of blood-injury-illness panics: algophobia, odynophobia, belonephobia, dermatophobia, hematophobia, hemophobia, pyrexeophobia, febriphobia, molysmophobia, mysophobia, traumatophobia, and vaccinophobia.

A few miscellaneous anxieties: ballistophobia, barophobia, claustrophobia, dementophobia, dextrophobia, erythrophobia, harpaxophobia, levophobia, pediophobia, trichopathophobia, and trichophobia.


2. Social phobia (social anxiety disorder; although when it occurs in children, it is known as avoidant disorder).

Individuals who have social phobias have excessive anxieties in social situations; such as, parties, meetings, interviews, restaurants, making complaints, writing in public, eating in restaurants, and interacting with the opposite sex, strangers, and aggressive individuals. They often fear situations in which they believe they are being observed and evaluated, such as eating, drinking, speaking in public, driving, etc.

Unlike specific or simple phobias, which tend to diminish as the individual grows into puberty and young adulthood, social phobias persist as one gets older. Many such individuals have traits that interfere with social and marital adjustment. Some have ongoing problems with generalized anxiety, dependence, authority, and depression.

Samples of excessive-social anxieties: aphephobia, haptephobia, catagelophobia, ereuthophobia, graphophobia, scriptophobia, kakorrhaphiophobia, scopophobia, and xenophobia.

True fears present signals in the presence of dangers; whereas unwarranted fears, phobias, are a waste of time. True fears are based on perceptions from your environment.

Unwarranted fears, phobias, are based on your imaginations or memories. Your survival instincts are gifts from nature. Whatever causes true fears is probably based on legitimate reasons. Always listen to them; however, you should also strive to distinguish true fears from phobias (irrational terrors).


Some other words that are synonyms of the word phobia include: fear, hatred, dread, anxiety, aversion, panic, fright, terror, torment, scare, terrify, angst, disgust, abhorrence, antipathy, repulsion, and revulsion.

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