Phobias: Things that Go Bump in the Mind

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Phobias: Things that Go Bump in the Mind My heart began to quicken and my palms started to sweat as I watched the ground get further and further away as I rode up the escalator into the main streets of Washington, D.C. I had this sudden feeling of vertigo and had to close my eyes to preserve my balance. I was certain that the if I let go of my tight grip on the railing, I would fall to my death. My only option was to turn away and run as fast as I could towards the safety of sunlight and solid ground. This over-reaction in such a simple situation was a result of my acrophobia, or fear of heights. I am not alone in this; according to some surveys, approximately 10% to 11% of the U.S. adult population suffer from a phobia in any given year. 1 Phobias are the most common psychiatric illness in women and the second most common in men over age 25. 2 They are emotional and physical responses to intense, unrealistic fears of certain objects or situations. Symptoms include feelings of panic, dread, horror, or terror; recognition that the fear goes beyond normal boundaries and the actual threat of danger; automatic reactions such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, and an overwhelming desire to flee the situation. 3 People with phobias often take extreme measures to avoid the feared object or situation, which often interfere with their daily lives. There are three distinguishable types of phobias: specific phobia, social phobias and agoraphobia. Specific phobias are the most common and are persistent fears of specific objects or situations such as snakes or heights. Social phobias are more complex and involve severe, persistent, and irrational fears of social or performance situations where people may feel emb... ... middle of paper ... of geniophobia (the fear of chins) or dentophobia (the fear of dentists)? Also as we become more technologically advanced, and the world seemingly more sterile, should we not fear less the natural world and more the technologically world? Who knows what new things people will be afraid of? But there will hopefully be new and improved treatments to combat the latest monsters under the bed. Reference 1)This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated. Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

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