July 28


Phobias: Where They Come From and How to Deal With Them?

We fear the dark and strange shadows on walls, thunder and lightning, spiders and snakes, large spaces and tiny closets. Is it possible to trace the causes of phobias? How can we live with them? It’s important to realize that phobias aren’t simply a “dislike” of certain things or situations. For example, if someone doesn’t like playing slots at Hellspin Casino,it doesn’t mean that they are afraid of them.

Classifications and Terms

Phobias are intense fears of certain objects, situations or concepts. People who suffer from them experience inadequate or excessive fear reactions that affect their behavior, emotional state, and physical well-being.

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Phobias can have a variety of forms and manifestations. It’s common to distinguish three types: social phobias, specific, or concrete phobias, and agoraphobia, an acute fear of being in a space outside one’s comfort zone.


Social phobias are expressed by increased anxiety, but there are also more severe situations, up to panic attacks before speaking to an unfamiliar audience or socializing in a company where not everyone knows each other. And in the case of specific phobias, fear is caused by a certain object, situation, natural environment, pattern of behavior of others and so on.

Why We Become Afraid

They are rooted deep in the subconscious and often cause physiological reactions that are difficult to control. They are often associated with traumatic events, unexperienced childhood experiences, violence and many other social factors that trigger intense emotional reactions. Phobias can also be triggered by media images: scary killer sharks, mutated spiders and plants, aggressive ghosts and other frightening creatures. Such psychological influences form associations and strengthen the body’s fear response to external stimuli.

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Fear that crosses the boundary of rationality and becomes a phobia is considered a subtype of anxiety disorder. Unlike anxiety, it’s concretized: we understand exactly what we are afraid of. At the same time, we may realize that this fear is irrational, but emotions still override reason.


There are suggestible phobias. This subtype is closely related to the childhood of a particular person and his upbringing. For example, a child may have been indoctrinated in childhood that all stray dogs are scary, you cannot approach them and even breathing in their direction isn’t worth it. And after many years he continues to shun dogs, he has a physical reaction: his heart starts beating faster, there is a tremor in his hands or a cold sweat – all reactions are individual. From a rational point of view it makes sense, we really don’t know how a particular dog will behave when confronted with a human. But to suspect all animals that they dream of attacking passers-by is also impossible, it defies logic.

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Phobias that we instill in ourselves manifest themselves in a similar way. For example, when we watch several dozen videos about airplane crashes a couple of days before the flight and the whole flight we sit tensely near the porthole on the verge of a panic attack. The factor of inability to intervene in the situation influences here: we cannot foresee that the accident will really happen, it’s out of our area of responsibility and knowledge. This uncertainty and helplessness are the most important factors in the development of anxiety and subsequent fear.

Is It possible to Fight Phobias?

With the help of cognitive behavioral therapy, it’s possible to identify the emotions that arise when confronted with the object of fear and try to replace the prevailing attitudes of the psyche with socially acceptable reactions. It’s a long and painstaking work on oneself, but the results will clearly please those who decide to take the therapy: it’s better to be afraid of the dark, but be able to walk in semi-dark corridors, than to fall into a daze at an emergency blackout and panic at every rustle.

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The basic principle of CPT is gradual change. It’s impossible to cure a phobia in two sessions. However, with a psychologist, it’s possible to identify cause-and-effect relationships: for example, someone is afraid of sharks or clowns because as a child they saw a horror movie about them. Fear of the dark may be imposed by childhood memories of strange noises in the house, but the noise was actually caused by the branches of a tree growing near the windows. Understanding becomes the key to alleviating anxiety as the irrational fear is gradually broken down into objective components and challenged, replaced by more positive thoughts when thinking about the source of the emotion.

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There are also exposure techniques, which are based on the principle of gradual and controlled exposure to the original anxiety stimulus. With the help of the therapist, the patient systematically confronts his phobias, starting with less frightening objects and gradually progressing to more difficult situations. This allows the patient to become accustomed to the fear and gradually reduce the level of anxiety that arises. The psychologist does not subject the patient to a kind of shock therapy, but gently moves from the surface to the underlying causes of the fears, teaches him to control his breathing and not to focus on panic, to ground himself.

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