Some call them urban legends. Freudians call them unfinished business. Many simply call them strange. They are the intense fear of something usually commonplace. Phobias are pressing and unrealistic fears that render many people unable to participate in life to their fullest potential. One would be well advised not to judge another person for crippling and irrational fear. It is these very fears that define who a person is today and who they were yesterday. Fears can even define one’s ability to become who they need to be tomorrow.
Phobias take many forms. As bizarre as they may appear to onlookers, they are legitimate fears for those who experience them. The only way to overcome a phobia is to find a therapeutic method that would allow the individual to face their fears head on. Getting to this point takes time, sometimes entire lifetimes. When the fear is finally dealt with in a healthy manner, the phobic victim is free to live life outside the limitations placed on them due to this enslavement of fear. Of course, there are the average phobias most people are familiar with: arachnophobia, hydrophobia and claustrophobia.
But what if a person’s experience of fear is linked to something as mundane as clothing? The fear of clothing is referred to as vestiphobia. Octophobia is an actual fear associated with the number 8. And anthrophobia is a condition in which one is afraid of flowers.
These seemingly nonsensical phobias can be largely attributed to damaging or painful experiences encountered early in a child’s developmental process. In fact, agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving one’s home due to an irrepressible need for safety and a means of escape should a disaster occur, is thought to be the result of insufficient maternal bonding during childhood.
Another aspect of what causes phobias in the mind of the person suffering from them is latent fear of that object or situation being beyond a person’s ability to control in the environment. Phobias can also be caused by the culture or daily pressures of life. In fact, many people in this day and age would willingly admit to being classified as nomophobic, which is the fear of losing electronic equipment, such as cell phones. Modern society has thrust most developed societies into fast-paced environments. The outcome of this type of culture is the need to always stay connected.
Because of this fast-paced lifestyle, many struggle to maintain other relationships without the help of electronics, simply because there are not enough hours in the day. For this reason, people become addicted to their mobile devices and social media.
Understanding phobias and where they come from are essential to an individual’s health and emotional growth. Irrational fears are more common than what meets the eye. With enough insight, they can be overcome, allowing freedom and stability in the lives of people with phobias. There is an entire life history behind a single phobia. By taking time to decipher them, one can understand more completely who they are and where they came from. When phobias are present, they do much to explain a person’s state of being.
By J.A. Johnson