; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What Are You Afraid Of?

When I was a child, I had a number of 'fears' that included the fear of heights and the fear of dogs. I overcame my fear of dogs as soon as I received one as a pet but I have never quite gotten over my fear of heights. I have fought for many years to transcend another fear but this one has been a bit more of a challenge.

Anxiety is a strange disorder because is can strike at any moment. There was a time when could drive a vehicle anywhere and at anytime. I had driven throughout the U.S. and Canada for almost 25 years without a problem. But that changed one day in 1997 while I was driving on I-76 from Baltimore, MD to Cleveland, OH. I had made the trip many times before and usually in about 5-6 hours. But this one day, something happened...though I don't know what it was.

I was near the Pennsylvania / Ohio state line when I suddenly started to go into an unbelievable panic. I was shaking, sweating and disoriented...as well as experiencing an overwhelming sensation of dread. Well, I had to stop at a rest area and get myself together. I finished the trip and drove back home a few days later, but it required that I stop and take a break every hour or so. I still have difficulty driving on open highways and for long distances. I have wondered if these panic attacks are triggered by an anxiety disorder or have I developed a phobia...or is it one in the same?

A phobia is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or people. According to the American Psychological Association, phobias are one of the most common mental disorders, affecting over 11% of men and women in the world. They can extremely diminish an individual’s social, economic, and personal life. Phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorders. There are thousands of debilitating disorders in the world, including:

Nyctophobia - The Fear of the Dark

Nyctophobia is a disabling disease characterized by a frenzied fear of the darkness. The phobia is generally related to children, but many adults experience it. It is extremely disruptive and incapacitating in adults and almost always leads to hospitalization. Patients experience an uncontrollable fear triggered by the mind’s perception of what could happen and is waiting in the dark. It seems to be based around mental-recall of past horrifying events. There is little known about the pathological background and emotional aspects of nyctophobia. However, scary movies, television shows, and ghost stories can manifest the phobia in children.

Patients suffer from various physical, emotional, and mental reactions to the phobia, including chest pain, discomfort, choking, smothering sensations, vertigo, and feelings of unreality, sweating, and shaking. Individuals suffering from nyctophobia have a hard time sleeping. Psychotherapy is one way to treat the disorder, while other methods include desensitization and exposure to the panic stimulant.

Spectrophobia - The Fear of Spectres or Ghosts

Spectrophobia is a specific phobia that involves an intense fear of ghosts and aspirations known as specters. Most adults will admit to being a bit afraid of ghosts, but people with spectrophobia feel that ghosts and specters are powerful black magic phantoms who can steal souls and even lives. Like most phobias, people who suffer from spectrophobia usually have experienced some sort of mental or physical trauma in their life. This experience then becomes associated with specters, ghosts, or apparitions. The symptoms of this phobia can range from a mild uncomfortable feeling to full blown anxiety or panic attacks. It is a rare disorder that is usually self-diagnosed, as the individual realizes the fear is interfering with their ability to function. Some treatments include traditional talk therapy, self-help techniques, exposure therapy, support groups, and various relaxation techniques.

Homichlophobia - The Fear of Fog

Homichlophobia is an exaggerated or irrational fear of fog. This disorder causes extreme panic in all patients. Individuals will take extreme avoidance measures towards fog, locating themselves in geographical areas that don’t receive much precipitation. They have extreme imaginations and create horrible visions surrounding the mist and fog. One commonly reported symptom is tunnel vision and crazy feelings of dread. It is a widespread phobia and has been reported in over 67 countries. This condition is treated with various cognitive development techniques. Direct exposure has been tested and performed extremely well in helping these patients cope. People suffering from homichlophobia greatly benefit from behavioral therapy.

Here is a list of the more bizarre and unusual phobias IMO:

Caligynephobia - The Fear of Beautiful Women

Caligynephobia is a form of gynophobia, which is the fear of all women. However, caligynephobia is directed towards good looking females. It can be an extremely disruptive social phobia, depending on the level of damage. The symptoms include rapid breathing, shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, nausea, sweating, panic attacks, and feelings of dread. There can also be individualized specific responses to this phobia. Caligynephobia can manifest itself in adolescent children, adult men, and women, but is most often viewed in men. Some common approaches to treating the disorder are systematic desensitization and cognitive behavioral therapies.

Chorophobia - The Fear of Dancing

Chorophobia is defined as the irrational fear of dancing. It is often times based around the individual’s unwillingness to become aroused or excited. This phobia surrounds social problems, such as the fear of embarrassment or large crowds. Symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, panic, and avoidance of places where dancing would take place. The disorder can become disabling. The real problem ensues when the individual is forced into a dancing situation. A good treatment method is personal therapy and some people use hypnosis. Many sufferers take to hiring a personal trainer to improve their dancing skills.

Ablutophobia - The Fear of Washing, Bathing, or Cleaning

Ablutophobia is a phobia that results in a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of washing yourself. It is most commonly found in women and children. Most patients don't fear water, just when there is intent to clean. It is important to note that many children dislike baths, so ablutophobia is generally not diagnosed in children unless it persists for more than six months. Like all phobias, ablutophobia is often linked to a traumatic past event. It can be serious, as a lack of hygiene can lead to social displacement and disease. It is a situational specific phobia and common treatment methods are exposure and various cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.

Anglophobia - The Fear of the England or the English Culture

Anglophobia is a phobia that includes the fear of the English. The term is also inaccurately used to discriminate against English people. Anglophobia is a true disorder that has historic routes. A 2005 study by Hussain and Millar of the Department of Politics at the University of Glasgow found that the condition has decreased in prevalence since the introduction of devolution. Having an English friend or direct contact with the English greatly reduces the chances of suffering from Anglophobia. Anglophobia has existed in Wales since the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535–1542 was passed by the Parliament of England, which annexed Wales to the Kingdom of England. It is a rare phobia, however in August 2008 a pipefitter based in Dublin was awarded €20,000 for receiving abuse and discrimination because he was English.

Dendrophobia - The Fear of Trees

Dendrophobia is a very common phobia surrounding the fear of trees or the forest. One of the most complicated factors when dealing with dendrophobia is that the patients often times don’t reveal the disorder, in fear of ridicule and joking. Individuals with this phobia become occupied with the thought that a "dead fear" is linked to the dense trees. They might feel trapped or experience a sense of strangulation. Dendrophobia causes anxiety and intense panic attacks. Avoiding trees can often be a difficult task. Some other symptoms of the disorder are rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, irregular heartbeat, nausea, sweating, and strong feelings of dread. Many documented cases have patients referring to forests and tree land as “the darkness” and “evil.” It is a disabling phobia that can be treated with exposure programs, talk therapy, medication, and other cognitive behavioral therapies.

Cypridophobia - The Fear of Prostitutes or Venereal Disease

Cypridophobia is an irrational fear of venereal disease. The phobia has been around for generations and the name originates from Cyprus and is a Greek word for Venus. It surrounds the fear of gaining a deadly venereal disease. It is a serious disorder and the patients often experience feelings of panic, terror, dread, rapid heart beat, trembling, anxiety, and can become ill and often faint. The phobia helps fuel bipolar personalities. Patients often suffer from sleep disorders and depression as the phobia expands and greatly damages social behavior. Cypridophobia can often lead to a complete withdrawal from sexual intercourse and isolation from the opposite sex. It is a serious disorder that is commonly seen all over the world.

Methyphobia - The Fear of Alcohol

Methyphobia is an intense and irrational fear of alcohol. People suffering from this phobia fear the consequences of alcohol consumption and in many instances they avoid everyone who drinks. They will also avoid any situation where alcohol is present, including weddings, holidays, and family gatherings. Methyphobia can directly lead to many social disorders. People suffering from this phobia often times have experienced a real life trauma related to alcohol consumption. It could be parental abuse, personal damage, or many other causes. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms when dealing with methyphobia.

Some individuals might lightly perspire and feel uncomfortable around alcohol, while others might have serious anxiety and panic attacks. Some other symptoms include dry mouth, numbness, dizziness, trembling, rapid heartbeat, feeling out of control, trapped, or utter doom. The disorder is usually self diagnosed and can be treated with various behavioral and cognitive therapy techniques. Basically, helping to teach the patient that they don’t have to drink alcohol, but others are allowed.

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

Living Courageously: You Can Face Anything, Just Do It Afraid

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