Phobia – Fearsome, but Protective as well

Word phobia also known as phobism, owes its origin to the Greek word ’Phobos’. From Phobos, there arose ‘phobia’ and ‘phobism’ in English linguafranca. Phobos in Greek means morbid fear which goes on haunting the subject repeatedly.

In the initial stages the word phobia or phobism was used in spoken and written language to mean a mental attitude of aversion or experience of morbid fear and the physical reaction connected with those feelings. But as time passed by, the scenario too got changes as is usual in all human perseverance: Today phobia carries on its head serious fearful thoughts and actions. It includes persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear connected with certain things or situations that compel a person to avoid the things or situations. And that disorder continues to persist even if proper awareness and reassurance that the things or situations are not dangerous is imparted.

In sum and substance, phobia is a combination of fear and dread in connection with certain things and matters which the phobic tries to avoid despite being lobbied that the things and matters concerned are harmless. In that backdrop phobia can be described as 1. An emotion containing persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels the inflicted person to avoid the thing or situation despite the awareness and reassurance to the effect that it is not dangerous;   2. The impairment of phobia is of serious nature, sometimes leading to very strong and severe repulsive dislikes and aversions.

Don’t take Phobia as a minor or temporary disorder: In fact it is a persisting mental aberration; it is difficult to bring the victim of which back to normalcy.

The disorder has been a serious subject for in-depth studies both by soul-searchers of psychology and by bio-neurological researchers of physiology. While the former remained in subjective conclusions about the onset and removal of the disorder without tangible results, the latter had made significant progress in diagnosis and treatment of the disorder. For diagnostic purposes, they classified phobias into two categories and thereby resolved major issues of the problem scientifically: Specific Phobias and Agora Phobias were/are the two categories which the researchers identified.

Specific Phobia relates to fear and aversion to particular objects or situations that induce acute anxiety and at times panic attacks. Such phobias fall under different types such as animal type, environmental type, situational type, injury type et al. The types are created on the basis of fear-objects and fear-situations that make the patients panic stricken. Agora Phobia is related to fear of leaving home, departing familiar and safer places and also while encountering thoughts of open spaces, social embarrassment, contamination, germs and so on. Such fears and aversions sparingly or otherwise follow obsessive-compulsive reactions as well.

The severity of phobia varies from individuals to individuals depending upon biological, genealogical and neurological factors. Mentally and physically strong built persons with the support of powerful conditioned reflexes developed during their childhood days where no blind beliefs and unwanted fear-situations were ever allowed can simply ignore objects of fear situations in their grown up years of existence. They are the individuals who can resist the pull of phobia and can feel comparatively milder fear and aversive reactions. On the other hand there are lot many people who suffer full-fledged panic attacks associated with disabling symptoms of phobia. Such persons feel totally powerless to override their panic reactions. The main reasons for such disablement are the environal influences they had undergone during their childhood mental development. Blind beliefs and obscurantistic persuasions exerted by parents, relatives, neighbours, religion, faith, social and cultural engagements, all of which jointly or isolatedly, in some way or the other, created fear and aversions in children during their upbringing days. As a result, the people who were born and brought up in the described tardy background become prey to different types of phobic reactions.

Psychologists have recently come out with a finding that women are more prone to fear than men. Their views are mischievous and untrue because of two scientifically proven facts. For one thing, there does not exist any difference between men and women in matters of brain-size and cell to cell communication faculty pertaining to intelligence and reasoning. Secondly, women are straighter forward in revealing what they are and what they know whereas men-folk tend to hide many truths relating to their personality which may force them not to reveal that they are prone to phobic reactions. Therefore, it is better to ignore the conclusion of the Psychologists on this score as the so-called soul-searchers are deeply into subjective pursuits rather than objective research with the support of empirical evidence.

Whatever be the pros and cons of phobias, in normal conditions, it is a protective reaction especially while viewing it in the context of evolution. Phobia plays a role of warning in advance to save the living organism, more importantly the humans, from harm or destruction from dangerous objects or situations. However, in abnormal conditions where phobia leads to panic attacks and serious repercussions, appropriate medico-clinical and psychiatric treatments should have to be sought for. Hypnotherapy is a suggested method of treatment for phobia. An appropriately trained hypnotist with adequate knowledge of neuroscience can help cure phobic maladies. Here, Pavlovian (Dr. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov) theory of deconditioning is put into operation by the Hypnotist to restore normalcy.

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