What is the difference between a fear and phobia?
Fears & Phobias | Inspire 4 Life Therapy | Oxford, Oxfordshire. We all suffer from fears and that is because a fear is a natural reaction when faced with possible real danger. For example the fear of heights when walking dangerously close to a cliff edge. A fear is your survival instinct to keep you out of harm’s way.
A Phobia can be considered similar to a fear because it would have originated from a natural fear. But a phobia is quite different because it has become an irrational, over exaggerated fear. Often situations that present little or no danger can greatly affect an individual with a phobia.
“80% of people have a phobia of spiders”
Arachnophobia is partly a natural fear because in certain countries a spider can be dangerous. However it is classed as a phobia because an individual with a fear of spiders is unable to come into contact with a common house spider without feeling anxious.
Loss of Control
Phobia suffers usually know that their fears are irrational; however they are unable to control it. This is usually because the methods they use can actually make the phobia feelings worse. For example; avoidance usually creates more anxiety and feelings of dread.
Types of Phobias
Most phobias continue without any interference with day to day activities. Because of this there is often no need to seek a solution to these types of phobias.
However there are types of phobias that can greatly impede on a person’s life and at this point it is often beneficial to seek a resolution to the phobia. One of the most common types of phobia can be fear of flying because this can impact on holidays and business events.
Social Phobia or fear of meeting people
Social phobia’s affect people when anticipating social situations. It is the most common form of a phobia which is also known as a Social Anxiety and can also be linked with Agoraphobia (fear of crowds, open spaces, public spaces and/or travelling alone)
Social phobia’s derives from the fear of being around people and the probability of needing to interact with other people and subsequently being judged negatively by them. Often avoidance of social situations then makes the phobia even worse and it becomes a vicious circle.
Fear of Heights
Although the fear of heights can be a very normal and natural protection technique, it can become much more of an irrational phobia if a person feels increased anxiety when in high but very safe situations. This can prevent a person from crossing bridges, being in indoor high situations, climbing ladders and even climbing stairs.
What does a phobia feel like?
Many people experience phobias in different ways but many of the symptoms may include;
- Feelings of dread
- Racing heart
Humans are NOT born with phobias. However babies are born with two instinctive fears -The fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. These fears often just stay that, a natural fear. However, sometimes the fear of falling can develop into the fear of heights or the fear of flying.
Sometimes it can help to identify the root cause of the phobia using hypnotherapy. Dissociation techniques are often used to help remove the phobia for good. The good news is that the more severe a phobia is; the easier it is to remove quickly.
But generally all phobias stem from childhood and are learnt behaviours from our parents or other people. For example; if you have a fear of spiders you were not born like that. When you was a toddler you might have found a spider intriguing rather than scary. However a phobia can develop in a split second when we experience a parent panicking in the presence of a spider. We can learn most of our subconscious behaviours from our parent’s behaviours from an early age.
Louise Nonweiler (Dip Hyp DNLP GQHP GHRreg Dip Psych Dip. Mindfulness IAHT)
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