The Truth About Phobias

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Heights, shadows on the wall, clowns, spiders; there are many different things of which people are scared, and when these phobias become too prevalent, they can sometimes cause disruptions in the lives of the people who have them. There are many people who are scared of things which can be a danger to their well-being, but there are many other people who are scared of things which can cause them no harm, such as speaking on the telephone (Telephonophobia), or their chin (Geniophobia). Fear is an averse emotion to something which presents an immediate or impending danger to oneself, while a phobia is a strong irrational fear of, or aversion to, something which will cause no danger. “If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is unreasonable, yet you still can’t control your feelings” (Smith, R. Segal, & J. Segal, n.d.). People have had phobias for thousands of years, and they have become an acceptable disorder.

The earliest written report of a phobia was written by Hippocrates in The Seventh Book of Epidemics in 400 BC. In this book, Hippocrates describes a man named Nicanor, who was so afraid of flutes or flute music, though it only bothered him at night. If he heard flute music during the day, he did not feel any unease. “Whenever he heard the voice of the flute begin to play at a symposium, masses of terrors rose up. He said that he could hardly bear it when it was night, but if he heard it in the daytime he was not affected” (Hippocrates, 1994 p. 207). The word phobia was first used by a Roman encyclopedist, Celsus, who thought of the word hydrophobic to describe a symptom of rabies. “The word is derived from the Greek word phobos for 'flight,' which was in turn derived from the name of a Greek deity, Phobos...

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