How do people get phobias? (Thinkstock)
How do people get phobias?
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You asked us, "How do people get phobias?"
 
Roughly 10% of people will develop a phobia.
 
They might be afraid of spiders, flying or clowns. Whatever it is they're afraid of that fear isn't a normal one.
 
A phobia is an irrational or over-the-top response to a perceived danger. It's 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. These might include things like dentists or dogs. This kind tends to develop in childhood and will often go away over time.
 
Then there are two more deeply-rooted and disabling "complex phobias" that tend to start during the teen years or early adulthood. The first is social phobia.  It's a fear of being judged or embarrassed. The second is agoraphobia which is a fear of places that make you feel trapped.
 
It's likely that genetics have a hand in phobias.
 
These unwarranted fears tend to run in families. There's evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice.
 
But life experiences play a role, too.
 
Phobias can develop from a scary or stressful experience. They can even come from something you just witnessed or heard about.
 
Unfortunately, knowing what caused your phobia doesn't cure you of it.
 
What might help though is exposure therapy. It's where patients gradually increase contact with their phobia and learn to overcome their fear.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might phobias tend to run in families?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (584)
  • paxtonc-jen
    10/28/2015 - 02:55 p.m.

    I didn't know that a phobias is an irrational or over the top response to a perceived danger or that these unwarranted fears tend to run in families.

  • calvinh-4-bar
    10/28/2015 - 06:19 p.m.

    Phobia's might tend to run in families because it is stated that there's evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice. This could mean that phobia's can run in families by genetics.
    I think that if a parent has a phobia and the children are exposed to the parent's reaction then they will be compelled to be scared too.

  • oliviam-6-bar
    10/28/2015 - 06:21 p.m.

    Phobias might tend to run in families because of genetic backgrounds."There's evidence that they can be inherited biologically"(line 9)
    Also, phobias might run in families because the younger generations are exposed to their parents fears and eventually adapt to them. Causing a chain reaction through out the whole family.
    I thought that this article was very interesting because I got to learn more about why both my mother and grandmother are afraid of heights.

    • jamesb1-jac
      11/16/2015 - 06:13 p.m.

      I agree because my granddad had tripo-phobia(fear of many holes together). My dad had tripo-phobia since he was born. Me, personally has tripo-phobia since I was born.

  • John0724-YYCA
    10/28/2015 - 08:35 p.m.

    I don't know if I have a phobia but I really wish I didn't have one because then I would act like a weird person if I saw the thing I have phobia of. I know my friend has a phobia of spiders because his classmates smashed a spider on his face.

  • william1108-yyca
    10/28/2015 - 09:07 p.m.

    WOW! I never knew what phobias was. But now that I have read this article having phobias is not that great. But even if I turn into a teen I am not sure if I want phobias. Maybe I will not get it or maybe I will get it.

  • ellans-1-bar
    10/28/2015 - 10:41 p.m.

    Phobias tend to run in families, because it might run in genetics. As this article states,"These unwarranted fears tend to run in families. There's evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice." This states that a person can have a phobia by biologically inherited. It article surprised me, because many people have phobias of spider, and I didn't know that people can inherit phobias.

  • summerc-1-bar
    10/28/2015 - 11:10 p.m.

    Phobias might run in families because they could be unwarranted. It states this in paragraphs eight and nine.
    "It's likely that genetics have a hand in phobias.
    These unwarranted fears tend to run in families."
    Life experiences may play a role in developing a phobia as well. Scary movies or a stressful experience are some examples. Paragraph 11 goes into greater detail about the subject.
    When I first read the article, I was surprised. I didn't know that about 10% of people will actually develop a phobia. Or that a phobia is an over-the-top response to a perceived danger.

    • vincentr-san
      3/03/2016 - 01:04 p.m.

      This is a really strong answer. Great Job summers-1-bar!

  • jackr-2-bar
    10/28/2015 - 11:15 p.m.

    Phobias might tend to run in families because in paragraph 7 it states that one type would be like getting judged and embarrassed. And this could be running in the family if a family had strange hair or a physical feature that makes someone embarrassed.I thought this article was interesting since I personally have a fear of open water, and I could heavily relate to this article.

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