Everyone is afraid in some aspect or time in their life, but not everyone is impacted by a medically recognized anxiety disorder known as a phobia. Phobias are prevalent in four to five percent of the U.S. population in a given year. Unlike fear, they are diagnosable and for the most part treatable. Here are just a few of the hundreds of recognized phobias that affect people around the world…
By far the most popular phobia, spiders and other arachnids hold a prevalent fear in many people. The fear of spiders is strongly thought to be an evolutionary fear, meaning it was developed out of the need to survive. While nearly all spiders are venomous, only a few have the capacity to cause any effect or harm to humans. Despite this knowledge, it does little to soothe the tingling sensation one might feel watching a furry arachnid crawl in your personal space.
The fear of clowns is one of the most rapidly growing fears today. Maybe in part to the rise in films such as American Horror Story: Cult or IT, clowns are getting a bad reputation. Though the evil clown archetype may be the cause, this fear is most likely a stem from “uncanny valley”. This term means that the replication of human features, that are not exact, may cause emotions of eeriness or revulsion. For this reason, similar fears revolve around robotics and dolls.
A less common fear in which the feelings associated with irregular clusters of holes or small bumps more often cause extreme discomfort. Common triggers can include honeycombs, lotus seed heads and some fruits. In most cases, the response to these holes is from a sense of evolutionary danger that identifies uncleanliness or disease. Due to these emotions, it has also been linked to mysophobia, the fear of germs.
An often surprising, yet very common fear, is that of dogs. This fear is especially crippling in part due to the popularity of the household pet, as well as strays. While some studies show the fear of dogs can be linked to a genetic defense mechanism, it is more often a learned fear. In most cases, previously startling or harmful encounters with dogs have rendered a person fearful. Exposure and desensitization is typically the best, although hard, cure.
The unease caused by an environment deemed unsafe or hard to escape impacts nearly 2 out of every 100 americans. Agoraphobia can limit its victims from visiting malls, theaters and other large events. It is typically caused by genetics or stressful life events, and can render a person unable to leave their home. This fear is often present with claustrophobia, the fear of small spaces, or aerophobia, the fear of flying.