Have you ever been scared by something and you don’t know why? Not just a normal frightened, however, more like a “can’t control your breathing and run out of the room screaming” type of fear. If that is the case, you might have what’s called a “phobia,” or an irrational fear of something. Phobias were always something I found fascinating, an irrational fear of something most people would shrug at. Seeing what made people tick (for better or worse) was and still is an interest of mine, seeing how people interacted with the world and how it acted back. This interest caused me to research phobias, what they are, what they stem from, how many people have them, and how they could affect a person's life.
The most common phobia here in the United States is Arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders. For some who are ailed with this phobia, even the mere mention of spiders can cause them to get panic attacks; although for most with this phobia, seeing spiders in videos or in person is what’s needed for the intense fear to kick in. Although it isn’t completely known what causes Arachnophobia, it is believed that it could have been evolutionary, that it could be a learned behavior from parents, that it could develop from associating all spiders with the deadly venomous ones, or that it can stem from a traumatic experience young in life which grew over time.
The next most common phobia is Ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes. Ophidiophobia is often misconstrued as Herpetophobia, which is the fear of reptiles in general. Ophidiophobes are likely to avoid events that could lead them into possibly coming into contact with snakes. This could mean avoiding going hiking out in the woods, or maybe avoiding going into the zoo if the phobia is strong enough. The possible reasons as to what causes Ophidiophobia are similar with those that cause Arachnophobia, in that it could either be a learned behavior or it could be evolutionary. Cynophobia, the fear of dogs, and Entomophobia, the fear of insects, are both very similar to the previous two phobias mentioned, they only differ on what they are affected by.
Astraphobia is another interesting phobia that affects about 2% of the population. Astraphobia is the fear of lightning/weather related phenomenon. For astraphobes, a thunderstorm can be a terrifying experience. The cracks of thunder could cause them to go into a panic attack, it could leave them short of breath or increase their heart rate. Tracking weather patterns and other astrological phenomena could become an obsession in order to avoid thunderstorms or other stress inducing weather.
Finally, Trypanophobia is the fear of needles. Trypanophobia can be detrimental to the trypanophobes’ physical health. Those with trypanophobia will often avoid doctors or other medical professionals due to the fear of needles being used on them. This causes those with Trypanophobia to often avoid getting vaccinations or to avoid the dentist. If the fear is bad enough, people with trypanophobia could pass out during injections. It is estimated that up to about 20-30% of adults deal with trypanophobia in some form or another. While again it isn’t known exactly why trypanophobia occurs and what causes it, it is theorized that bad memories including needles, say painful injections or something similar to that, could morph into a fear of needles that could grow later into life.
Seeing how phobias can affect people in their daily lives can give us a deeper look into the human mind and how our childhood experiences come to help shape us, but also how our experiences in general can help shape us, and then in turn the world around us.