There’s Nothing to Fear!

Franklin D. Roosevelt brought to the forefront that, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Some unequivocally believe breaking a mirror will get them seven years’ bad luck; enter the fear of breaking a mirror or catoptrophobia.

With this in mind, we tend to over-think things to the point where they can become a fear or phobia; nonetheless, everyone is afraid of something at some point in time. From ‘A’ all the way to ‘Z,’ there are too many fears and phobias to count on one hand. Now, lets plunge into fears and phobias and see exactly what makes them tick.

There are several well-documented fears, one of which is agoraphobia or the fear of open spaces.

Fears Versus Phobias

Whether we let fears or phobias grip us or dictate the course of our actions is solely up to us. Simply put, being fearful means to be afraid of (someone or something). When is a fear considered a phobia? First, it is necessary for you to know that fear is thought to be an adaptive human response that benefits us in that it serves a protective purpose, triggering our “fight-or-flight” response.

On the contrary, a certain degree of fear actually can be beneficial. How can this be, you ask? Think of it this way, this response is automatic and helpful because it enables our bodies and minds to be alert and ready for action. This in turn allows us to be able to respond in an instant and protect ourselves. A better illustration is when our lives are instantaneously saved, while being in the midst of dicey situations.

The total opposite occurs with phobias because the perceived threat is greatly embellished or nonexistent, even. Case in point, it is perfectly natural to be afraid of heights, but walking up a flight of stairs, under normal circumstances should not be particularly daunting. With that, specific phobias are estimated to affect roughly 19 million Americans.

For the Record

There are several well-documented fears, one of which is agoraphobia or the fear of open spaces. It is thought that this fear develops as a complication of panic attacks. Agoraphobics are typically anxious about being in situations where escaping can become difficult or embarrassing. Another component is  they fear help will not be readily available to them during time of need.

Places that tend to have large amounts of people are usually avoided by agoraphobics. This includes shopping malls and movie theatres. One might also steer clear of trains, subways, cars and a plethora of other forms of travel. In extreme cases the individual may only feel safe within the confines of his or her home.

Another fear that is worth addressing is social phobia, which also is termed social anxiety disorder. With this fear one might be petrified of social situations where they may be embarrassed or judged. They can become afraid of humiliating himself or herself in the presence of other individuals, along with being self-conscious.

Fears do not have to cripple you.

The fear of public speaking falls into the social phobia category. But, other fears linked to social phobia include the fear of talking to strangers, eating or drinking in public places, taking exams, not being able to mingle and work the room at a party and being called on in class to answer a question; making the situation painfully difficult.

Many are afraid of spiders or are arachnophobics. And, it’s not just because they can potentially be poisonous. Those creepy crawlers can make the hair on the back of our neck stand straight up. There’s just something about an arachnid having the propensity to jump several feet…ew!

Do you know someone who has had a neighbor move on their block and has not introduced himself or herself for lets say years? If so this may be considered as xenophobia. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, xenophobia is the fear and hatred of foreigners, strangers or of anything that is strange or foreign.

Crowded spaces such as elevators and air planes can leave certain individuals prone to claustrophobia or the fear of enclosed or small spaces. People with claustrophobia give the description of feeling trapped without the means to exit. As with most specific phobias, claustrophobia is more prevalent in women than in men.

It’s the year 2013, does anybody know what the fear of the number 13 is? If you answered triskaidekaphobia, that’s exactly right. In the Western region of the world, this number has a connotation of having bad luck or doom and gloom. This superstition leads some to fear or avoid anything that pertains to the number 13; the most common being the numbering of floors, in which the number 13 is omitted.

Pinpointing the Problem

The goal for everyone is to lead a normal healthy lifestyle. Fears or phobias only become a problem when they interfere with regular day-to-day living. If the latter is the case, one may consider consulting with a healthcare professional. I leave you with this question: What are you afraid of?

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-Kimberly Williams

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