Most of us are aware that the term “phobia” actually means “fear” or “fear of.” Phobias fall into three different categories or classifications. I know many of us would like to think that fear of spiders, or arachnophobia has its own category, but like other phobias it falls into its own pre-set category or classification and for the most part, each phobia in each grouping has a centralized theme or something that ties it in with the other phobias of its class.
Referring back to the fear of spiders, if you do have this fear then I am sure you have been told countless times “that spider is just as much, if not more ,afraid of you than you are of it.” Which reminds me of a comical response to that saying, “Oh really, did you ask the spider that?!”
All joking aside for most people with true phobias/fears the fear is real, can often lead to crippling anxiety, panic attacks, and a host of reactions to what ‘should be’ just a garden variety fear. However, for many who suffer from various types of phobias, the phobia; however irrational it may be can cause devastation to the emotional and mental lives and lifestyles of those afflicted with a severe phobia.
The three categories of phobias are:
Specific (also known as Simple) Phobias
What Types of Phobias are Included in Specific Phobias
Specific phobias, also known as Simple phobias, are generally commonly seen fears or phobias directed at specific objects; this is where your fear of spiders comes into play. People, for the most part, who have irrational specific phobias can be justified. For instance, fear of flying. Yes the idea for many people being miles up in the air, have seen coverage on the news of horrendous plane crashes, or who have lost loved ones from a flight related death could very well rationalize a fear of flying. The same even holds true for fear of spiders. The person with a phobia of spiders may have never once been bitten by a spider, but they are aware of the venom that some spiders have and fear being bitten, or like others they are just really freaked out by spiders.
Specific phobias have a list a mile long of what is included. In fact, any fear of any object can be listed in the specific phobia category. People can be afraid of germs, afraid of reclining chairs, or even afraid of balloons. To each person with a specific phobia their first line of defense is to avoid the “object” as best possible.
The fear itself does not become a great issue until it begins to affect their daily lives, relationships, or work. When a phobia has reached these types of proportions, it is then time to get professional medical help regarding the phobia-no matter how “simple” it may appear. Something to help keep your chin up though is that approximately 20 million people have some sort of specific phobia, so, you are not alone in your fear of spiders, fear of heights, fear of germs, and so on.
Any and all types of phobias generally means you have a fear of something, some place, someone, etc. All phobias are fears and most all phobias are incredibly irrational from the outside looking in. The second type of phobia is called Social Phobia. One interesting thing associated with social phobia is that many of us have this phobia but are unaware of it completely.
Some types of social phobia may include a fear of speaking in front of a group of people. I believe many would raise their hands of having this fear in their lifetime. What if they laugh? What if they are bored to sleep by my speech? What if I forget my lines? The list goes one. This, much like the specific phobias we discussed earlier, can impede our lives. Anything that we allow to grab hold of us and cause us to have a great fear of that subsequently causes us to avoid certain situations can be cause for medical and psychological attention.
For example, for many college students it is a mandatory to take speech class. But, what does this mean for someone who has a great fear of speaking in public? If the very idea of speaking in front of people can stir up such anxiety that a panic attack could likely ensue, what should these people do? If you are one of these people and you know that you will be required to speak in front of a group of people, you should prepare yourself and seek out the advice from a mental health professional. Talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and as needed medication may be what is needed to get through some areas of your life that are unavoidable.
Agoraphobia has its own class/category/grouping under the heading of phobias. Plainly put, agoraphobia is the fear of going into public places. For some the idea of doing so can or cannot cause panic attacks, but it does, as the phobia suggests, instill fear into the person who has agoraphobia. Most with this type of phobia absolutely refuse to enter into a public place or leave their home for that matter. Panic attacks are not a norm with these individuals because quite often they are not forced to leave their home, thus no need to have a panic attack.
Try as they may, when left untreated, a person with agoraphobia can often not leave their home unless drugged or when a therapist comes directly to their home in order to do talk therapy with them one-on-one and help them realize the irrationality of their fear and get to the root problem for their fear of leaving the house.
Speaking of phobias in general and not basing it wholly on the three types of phobias, a phobia, to the person who has it, is very real. It can ignite feelings of untold fear in a person and as stated above, can even lead to panic attacks or anxiety attacks. Not much research has been conducted on individualized phobias, which is why there is a classification system in place.
Therapists do the best they can to treat each phobia uniquely, but, for what little studies have been conducted it has shown that the treatment regimen for each individualized grouping has roughly the same protocol. Treatment is done through talk therapy, medication therapy, and often times a type of therapy that forces the person with the extreme fear to face their fears-often many times-in order to desensitize themselves from the fear and finally break free of the phobia. This type of therapy has, in many cases been of great help to patience and for others it has done more harm than good. This is especially true if a panic attack arises, something bad happens while they are facing their fear, or if the grips of terror will not release them long enough to try to desensitize.
No matter which of the three types of phobias the fear falls under or how outrageous the phobia may seem to an outsider, for the person experiencing it, it can be life altering and should be handled with care. If you or someone you know has a fear that is threatening qualify of life, it is time to step in and get help for yourself or help your phobic loved one receive the help they need so that they can live a productive and happy life.
Mental Health America: Phobia
NIMH • Specific Phobias
What is Agoraphobia?
Types of Social Phobias. Know Them To Safeguard Yourself
The Different types of phobia