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    Fears and Phobias Essay (2931 words)

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    Part 1. Phobia 1. 1 Meaning of phobia. A phobia (from the Greek: ????? , phobos, meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is an intense and persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, animals, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive and unreasonable desire to avoid the feared stimulus. When the fear is beyond one’s control, and if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made. This is caused by what are called, neutral, unconditioned, and conditioned stimuli, which trigger either conditioned or unconditioned responses.

    An example would be a person who was attacked by a dog (the unconditioned stimulus) would respond with an unconditioned response. When this happens, the unconditioned stimulus of them being attacked by the dog would become conditioned, and to this now conditioned stimulus, they would develop a conditioned response. If the occurance had enough of an impact on this certain person then they would develop a fear of that dog, or in some cases, an irrational fear of all dogs. Phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorders.

    An American study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that between 8. 7% and 18. 1% of Americans suffer from phobias. Broken down by age and gender, the study found that phobias were the most common mental illness among women in all age groups and the second most common illness among men older than 25. Phobias are not generally diagnosed if they are not particularly distressing to the patient and if they are not frequently encountered. If a phobia is defined as “impairing to the individual”, then it will be treated after being measured in context by the degree of severity.

    A large percent of the American population is afraid of public speaking, which could range from mild uncomfortability, to an intense anxiety that inhibits all social involvement. Phobias are generally caused by an event recorded by the amygdala and hippocampus and labeled as deadly or dangerous; thus whenever a specific situation is approached again the body reacts as if the event were happening repeatedly afterward. Treatment comes in some way or another as a replacing of the memory and reaction to the previous event perceived as deadly with something more realistic and based more rationally.

    In reality most phobias are irrational, in the sense that they are thought to be dangerous, but in reality are not threatening to survival in any way. Some phobias are generated from the observation of a parent’s or sibling’s reaction. The observer then can take in the information and generate a fear of whatever they experienced. 1. 2 Causes Phobias are known as an emotional response learned because of difficult life experiences. Generally phobias occur when fear produced by a threatening situation is transmitted to other similar situations, while the original fear is often repressed or forgotten.

    The excessive, unreasoning fear of water, for example, may be based on a childhood experience of almost drowning. The individual attempts to avoid that situation in the future, a response that, while reducing anxiety in the short term, reinforces the association of the situation with the onset of anxiety. 1. 3 Clinical phobias Psychologists and psychiatrists classify most phobias into three categories and, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), such phobias are considered to be sub-types of anxiety disorder.

    The three categories are: Social phobia- fears involving other people or social situations such as performance anxiety or fears of embarrassment by scrutiny of others, such as eating in public. Overcoming social phobia is often very difficult without the help of therapy or support groups. Social phobia may be further subdivided into generalized social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder or simply social anxiety) and specific social phobia, in which anxiety is triggered only in specific situations. The symptoms may extend to psychosomatic manifestation of physical problems.

    For example, sufferers of paruresis find it difficult or impossible to urinate in reduced levels of privacy. This goes far beyond mere preference: when the condition triggers, the person physically cannot empty their bladder. Specific phobias – fear of a single specific panic trigger such as spiders, snakes, dogs, water, heights, flying, catching a specific illness, etc. Many people have these fears but to a lesser degree than those who suffer from specific phobias. People with the phobias specifically avoid the entity they fear.

    Agoraphobia – a generalized fear of leaving home or a small familiar ‘safe’ area, and of possible panic attacks that might follow. May also be caused by various specific phobias such as fear of open spaces, social embarrassment (social agoraphobia), fear of contamination (fear of germs, possibly complicated by obsessive-compulsive disorder) or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) related to a trauma that occurred out of doors. Phobias vary in severity among individuals. Some individuals can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over that fear.

    Others suffer full-fledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but they are powerless to override their initial panic reaction. 1. 4 Treatments Various methods are claimed to treat phobias. Their proposed benefits may vary from person to person. Some therapists use virtual reality or imagery exercise to desensitize patients to the feared entity. These are parts of systematic desensitization therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy lets the patient understand the cycle of negative thought patterns, and ways to change these thought patterns. CBT may be conducted in a group setting. Gradual desensitisation treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort. In one clinical trial, 90% of patients were observed with no longer having a phobic reaction after successful CBT treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been demonstrated in peer-reviewed clinical trials to be effective in treating some phobias.

    Mainly used to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR has been demonstrated as effective in easing phobia symptoms following a specific trauma, such as a fear of dogs following a dog bite. Hypnotherapy coupled with Neuro-linguistic programming can also be used to help remove the associations that trigger a phobic reaction. However, lack of research and scientific testing compromises its status as an effective treatment. Antidepressant medications such SSRIs, MAOIs may be helpful in some cases of phobia. Benzodiazepines may be useful in acute treatment of severe symptoms ut the risk benefit ratio is against their long-term use in phobic disorders. Emotional Freedom Technique, a psychotherapeutic alternative medicine tool, also considered to be pseudoscience by the mainstream medicine, is allegedly useful. These treatment options are not mutually exclusive. Often a therapist will suggest multiple treatments. 1. 5 List of phobias ? Ablutophobia – fear of bathing, washing, or cleaning. ? Acrophobia, Altophobia – fear of heights. ? Agoraphobia, Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder – fear of places or events where escape is impossible or when help is unavailable. Agraphobia – fear of sexual abuse. ? Aichmophobia – fear of sharp or pointed objects (as a needle, knife or a pointing finger). ? Algophobia – fear of pain. ? Agyrophobia – fear of crossing roads. ? Androphobia – fear of men. ? Anthropophobia – fear of people or being in a company, a form of social phobia. ? Anthophobia – fear of flowers. ? Aquaphobia – fear of water. ? Astraphobia, Astrapophobia, Brontophobia, Keraunophobia – fear of thunder, lightning and storms; especially common in young children. ? Aviophobia, Aviatophobia – fear of flying. Bacillophobia, Bacteriophobia, Microbiophobia – fear of microbes and bacteria. ? Blood-injection-injury type phobia – a DSM-IV subtype of specific phobias ? Chorophobia – fear of dancing. ? Cibophobia, Sitophobia – aversion to food, synonymous to Anorexia nervosa. ? Claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces. ? Coulrophobia – fear of clowns (not restricted to evil clowns). ? Decidophobia – fear of making decisions. ? Dental phobia, Dentophobia, Odontophobia – fear of dentists and dental procedures ? Dysmorphophobia, or body dysmorphic disorder – a phobic obsession with a real or imaginary body defect. Emetophobia – fear of vomiting. ? Ergasiophobia, Ergophobia – fear of work or functioning, or a surgeon’s fear of operating. ? Ergophobia – fear of work or functioning. ? Erotophobia – fear of sexual love or sexual questions. ? Erythrophobia – pathological blushing. ? Gelotophobia – fear of being laughed at. ? Gephyrophobia – fear of bridges. ? Genophobia, Coitophobia – fear of sexual intercourse. ? Gerascophobia – fear of growing old or ageing. ? Gerontophobia – fear of growing old, or a hatred or fear of the elderly. ? Glossophobia – fear of speaking in public or of trying to speak. Gymnophobia – fear of nudity. ? Gynophobia – fear of women. ? Haptephobia – fear of being touched. ? Heliophobia – fear of sunlight. ? Hemophobia, Haemophobia – fear of blood. ? Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – fear of the number 666. ? Hoplophobia – fear of weapons, specifically firearms (Generally a political term but the clinical phobia is also documented). ? Ligyrophobia – fear of loud noises. ? Lipophobia – fear/avoidance of fats in food. ? Medication phobia – fear of medications ? Megalophobia – fear of large/oversized objects. Mysophobia – fear of germs, contamination or dirt. ? Necrophobia – fear of death, the dead. ? Neophobia, Cainophobia, Cainotophobia, Cenophobia, Centophobia, Kainolophobia, Kainophobia – fear of newness, novelty. ? Nomophobia – fear of being out of mobile phone contact. ? Nosophobia – fear of contracting a disease. ? Nosocomephobia – fear of hospitals. ? Nyctophobia, Achluophobia, Lygophobia, Scotophobia – fear of darkness. ? Osmophobia, Olfactophobia – fear of smells. ? Paraskavedekatriaphobia, Paraskevidekatriaphobia, Friggatriskaidekaphobia – fear of Friday the 13th. Panphobia – fear of everything or constantly afraid without knowing what is causing it. ? Phasmophobia – fear of ghosts, spectres or phantasms. ? Phagophobia – fear of swallowing. ? Pharmacophobia – same as medication phobia ? Phobophobia – fear of having a phobia. ? Phonophobia – fear of loud sounds. ? Pyrophobia – fear of fire. ? Radiophobia – fear of radioactivity or X-rays. ‘sociophobia – fear of people or social situations ‘scopophobia – fear of being looked at or stared at. ‘somniphobia – fear of sleep. ‘spectrophobia – fear of mirrors and one’s own reflections. Taphophobia – fear of the grave, or fear of being placed in a grave while still alive. ? Technophobia – fear of technology (see also Luddite). ? Telephone phobia, fear or reluctance of making or taking phone calls. ? Tetraphobia – fear of the number 4. ? Tokophobia – fear of childbirth. ? Tomophobia – fear or anxiety of surgeries/surgical operations. ? Traumatophobia – a synonym for injury phobia, a fear of having an injury ? Triskaidekaphobia, Terdekaphobia – fear of the number 13. ? Trypanophobia, Belonephobia, Enetophobia – fear of needles or injections. Workplace phobia – fear of the work place. ? Xenophobia – fear of strangers, foreigners, or aliens. Animal phobias ? Ailurophobia – fear/dislike of cats. ? Animal phobia – fear of certain animals, a category of specific phobias. ? Apiphobia – fear/dislike of bees (also known as Melissophobia). ? Arachnophobia – fear/dislike of spiders. ? Chiroptophobia – fear/dislike of bats. ? Cynophobia – fear/dislike of dogs. ? Entomophobia – fear/dislike of insects. ? Equinophobia – fear/dislike of horses (also known as Hippophobia). ? Herpetophobia – fear/dislike of reptiles. Ichthyophobia – fear/dislike of fish. ? Musophobia – fear/dislike of mice and/or rats. ? Ophidiophobia – fear/dislike of snakes. ? Ornithophobia – fear/dislike of birds. ‘scoleciphobia – fear of worms. ? Zoophobia – a generic term for animal phobias. Part 2. Fear 2. 1 Meaning of fear Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. Some psychologists such as John B. Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that fear is one of a small set of basic or innate emotions.

    This set also includes such emotions as joy, sadness, and anger. Fear should be distinguished from the related emotional state of anxiety, which typically occurs without any external threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. Worth noting is that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable.

    Fear could also be an instant reaction, to something presently happening. 2. 2 Etymology The Old English term fear meant not the emotion engendered by a calamity or disaster, but rather the event itself. The first recorded usage of the term “fear” with the sense of the “emotion of fear” is found in a medieval work written in Middle English, composed circa 1290. The most probable explanation for the change in the meaning of the word “fear” is the existence in Old English of the related verb frighten, which meant “to terrify, take by surprise”. 2. 3 Description

    The facial expression of fear includes the widening of the eyes (out of anticipation for what will happen next); the pupils dilate (to take in more light); the upper lip rises, the brows draw together, and the lips stretch horizontally. The physiological effects of fear can be better understood from the perspective of the sympathetic nervous responses (fight-or-flight), as compared to the parasympathetic response, which is a more relaxed state. Muscles used for physical movement are tightened and primed with oxygen, in preparation for a physical fight-or-flight response.

    Perspiration occurs due to blood being shunted from body’s viscera to the peripheral parts of the body. Blood that is shunted from the viscera to the rest of the body will transfer, along with oxygen and nutrients, heat, prompting perspiration to cool the body. When the stimulus is shocking or abrupt, a common reaction is to cover (or otherwise protect) vulnerable parts of the anatomy, particularly the face and head. When a fear stimulus occurs unexpectedly, the victim of the fear response could possibly jump or give a small start. The person’s heart-rate and heartbeat may quicken. 2. 4 Causes

    People develop specific fears as a result of learning. This has been studied in psychology as fear conditioning, beginning with John B. Watson’s Little Albert experiment in 1920. In this study, an 11-month-old boy was conditioned to fear a white rat in the laboratory. The fear became generalized to include other white, furry objects. In the real world, fear can be acquired by a frightening traumatic accident. For example, if a child falls into a well and struggles to get out, he or she may develop a fear of wells, heights (acrophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), or water (aquaphobia).

    There are studies looking at areas of the brain that are affected in relation to fear. When looking at these areas (amygdala), it was proposed that a person learns to fear regardless of whether they themselves have experienced trauma, or if they have observed the fear in others. In a study completed by Andreas Olsson, Katherine I. Nearing and Elizabeth A. Phelps the amygdala were affected both when subjects observed someone else being submitted to an aversive event, knowing that the same treatment awaited themselves, and when subjects were subsequently placed in a fear-provoking situation.

    This suggests that fear can develop in both conditions,not just simply from personal history. Although fear is learned, the capacity to fear is part of human nature. Many studies have found that certain fears (e. g. animals, heights) are much more common than others (e. g. flowers, clouds). These fears are also easier to induce in the laboratory. This phenomenon is known as preparedness. Because early humans that were quick to fear dangerous situations were more likely to survive and reproduce, preparedness is theorized to be a genetic effect that is the result of natural selection.

    The experience of fear is affected by historical and cultural influences. For example, in the early 20th Century, many Americans feared polio, a disease that cripples the body part it affects, leaving that body part immobilized for the rest of one’s life. There are also consistent cross-cultural differences in how people respond to fear. Display rules affect how likely people are to show the facial expression of fear and other emotions. 2. 5 Neurobiology The amygdala is a key brain structure in the neurobiology of fear. It is involved in the processing of negative emotions (such as fear and anger).

    Researchers have observed hyperactivity in the amygdala when patients who were shown threatening faces or confronted with frightening situations. Patients with a more severe social phobia showed a correlation with increased response in the amygdala. Studies have also shown that subjects exposed to images of frightened faces, or faces of people from another race exhibit increased activity in the amygdala. The fear response generated by the amygdala can be mitigated by another brain region known as the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, located in the frontal lobe.

    In a 2006 study at Columbia University, researchers observed that test subjects experienced less activity in the amygdala when they consciously perceived fearful stimuli than when they unconsciouslyperceived fearful stimuli. In the former case, they discovered the rostral anterior cingulate cortex activates to dampen activity in amygdala, granting the subjects a degree of emotional control. The role of the amygdala in the processing of fear-related stimuli has been questioned by research upon those in which it is bilateral damaged.

    Even in the absence of their amygdala, they still react rapidly to fearful faces. Suppression of amygdala activity can also be achieved by pathogens. Rats infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite become less fearful of cats, sometimes even seeking out their urine-marked areas. This behavior often leads to them being eaten by cats. The parasite then reproduces within the body of the cat. There is evidence that the parasite concentrates itself in the amygdala of infected rats. Conclusion We have come to the conclusion that: • The meaning of fears and phobias are very close fears and phobias appear because of different reasons, happened to people • feeling of fear is a defending reaction of our body to some shocking situations Resourses Bourke, Joanna, Fear: a cultural history, Virago (2005) Duenwald, Mary. The Physiology of … Facial Expressions, Discover magazine, v. 26, n. 1, January 2005 Gardner, Dan, Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear, Random House, Inc. , 2008. ISBN 0771032994 Krishnamurti, Jiddu, On Fear, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-251014-2 (1995) Robin, Corey, Fear: the history of a political idea, Oxford University Press (2004) www. wikipedia. com

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