How do people get phobias?
October 28, 2015
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You asked us a question. "How do people get phobias?"
Roughly 10% of people will get a phobia.
They might be scared of spiders. Or maybe flying or clowns. Whatever it is they are afraid of that fear is not a normal one.
A phobia is response to what someone thinks is a danger. It does not really make sense. It is normally over-the-top. It is a response that causes people to avoid their object-of-fear like the plague.
There are three main types.
Simple phobias are a fear of something specific. Those fears might be dentists or dogs. This kind tends to form in childhood. It will often go away over time.
Then there are two more types of phobias. These are more deeply rooted. And they can be disabling.
They are "complex phobias." They tend to start during the teen years or early adulthood.
The first is social phobia. It is a fear of being judged or embarrassed.
The second is agoraphobia. It is a fear of places that make you feel trapped.
It is likely that genetics have a hand in phobias.
These unwarranted fears tend to run in families. There is evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice.
But life experiences play a role, too.
Phobias can form from a scary or stressful experience. It can even happen after one you just witnessed or heard about.
Unfortunately, knowing what caused your phobia does not cure you of it.
What might help though is exposure therapy. Patients slowly increase contact with their phobia. The hope is that they will learn to overcome their fear.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might phobias tend to run in families?
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