A Northern Illinois University (NIU) graduate in psychology has developed a measurement of fear, a unique psychological tool that could not only open up new areas of phobia research, but also be of use to therapists and other mental health professionals (click here). But, what is a phobia, and how can you deal with it if you have one?
A phobia is an anxiety disorder. It’s often referred to as a persistent fear of an object or situation, one that the sufferer will either go to great lengths to avoid, or endure with marked distress. It’s a fear they recognise as irrational and one that is typically disproportionate to the danger actually posed by the thing itself.
The word comes from the Greek, Phóbos – meaning ‘fear’ or ‘morbid fear’ and, in Greek mythology; Phobos was the god of fear and terror. It’s also the name of the largest of the two Mars moons.
In psychotherapy, there are three main types of phobia: social, specific and agoraphobia.
Social phobias are broken down into two types, generalised social phobia (or social anxiety) and specific social phobia (where the anxiety is triggered only in specific situations).
Specific phobias cover almost anything and everything else including fears of flying, animals, catching a specific illness, water, heights, clowns, buttons, injections, thunder, bridges and, even, work.
Each specific phobia has its own name. The fear of clowns, for instance, is called Coulrophobia (and no, it’s not just restricted to evil clowns, but covers the nice ones too) while the fear of work is known as Ergophobia.
There’s even a phobia that is culture specific, in that it’s almost exclusively experienced by Japanese people: Taijin Kyofusho, a fear of offending or harming other people.
Agoraphobia gets its only special category however, as it’s a much more complex affair (or multi-phobic, to be precise), and can include a generalised fear of leaving home or other safe places, coupled with a fear of having a panic attack, a fear of open spaces, of being socially embarrassed and more.
However, CBT is considered to be the gold standard treatment for anxiety disorders (including phobias) by the NHS. Not only that, but lots of research highlights the efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of the same.
Put the two together and not only are you are looking at a more effective treatment package, but also faster results too (studies have shown that the two therapies together can be more effective and more rapid than when either one is used alone).
If you think you have a phobia and are looking for a CBT therapist or searching for a hypnotherapist to help you, why not try a professional that can combine the two treatment programmes together?
By-the-by, whilst the Office of National Statistics claim that 1.9 per cent of the adult UK population are phobic at any one time, animal phobias are the number one phobia for women, followed by heights; whilst heights are the number one phobia for men, followed by animals.
Finally, there are four states that are incompatible with fear: hunger, thirst, relaxation (which is why hypnotherapy works so well) and sex.
So, if you’re hungry, thirsty, under hypnosis or just plain horny, your phobia is not going to get a look in.