In daily life, we can easily be encountered with the word ‘phobia,’ such as AIDS phobia, social phobia and homophobia. It may be because there are more than 500 phobias all over the world. Then, what is the meaning of phobia? The word phobia is used to describe an emotion of fear of a particular object or situation. We attach the word phobia to a subject of fear when someone is desperately avoiding something or a condition which doesn’t seem like a frightening or dangerous situation when viewed objectively. Some patients with phobias even feel pain when encountered with a situation of fear. People also feel anxiety when exposed to fear and if this fear exceeds a certain point, the patient suffers a panic attack.
These kinds of phobias are a reaction of rejection which is classified as a disease because it is severe enough to trigger interference in daily life. Until today, a considerable amount of people commit suicide in order to escape terrifying situations. Some serious ornithophobia patients who have fear of birds drop down and scream and cry at the sight of a couple pigeons in the park. Entomophobia patients who have fear of insects do the same when a fly or bugs wiz towards them. It might not seem like much, but for some people, it makes their life with a misery and a pain.
So, let’s go through some familiar types of phobias. Trypophobia is when you feel the sense of fear when looking at a grouping of small holes. The incidence of trypophobia is about 17% and some theories suggest that the cause of this phobia is to remind the present generations of smallpox disease which has a ring-shaped pattern. Another typical phobia we have around us is acrophobia. 3~5% of the global population feel acrophobia when going up to high places. They experience the feeling of falling down and have difficulty breathing and dizziness even at only a few meters high. The last common phobia is particularly seen in the Western region of the globe, which is called coulrophobia. Coulrophobia patients feel extreme fear over clowns. When they see pictures of people dressed up as clowns, they start to hyperventilate and get frustrated.
What kind of treatments are there for patients who are suffering from phobias? The most common treatment method is called the ‘Exposing therapy’. Therapists should put their patients in a relaxed state then expose the increased intensity of fear gradually to the patient. This could help the patient to adapt and feel the fear diminishing. To give an example, for acrophobia patients, you slowly and gradually increase the height from 2 meters and 3 meters and so on which will enable the patient to lose the sense of fear once they get used to the increasing height.
Finally, as mentioned before, even if you don’t suffer from phobias, you can still cause extreme fear to a phobia patient or help them alleviate it. If someone around you is acting severely nervous or anxious in a very normal situation, approach them and give them a hand.
Jung Seung-in -
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