How do people get phobias? (Thinkstock)
How do people get phobias?
Lexile

You asked us, "How do people get phobias?"
 
Roughly 10% of people will develop a phobia.
 
And whatever it is they're afraid of - spiders, flying or clowns - that fear isn't a normal one.
 
A phobia is an irrational or over-the-top response to a perceived danger. It's one 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, 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: social phobia (which is a fear of being judged or embarrassed) and 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 and 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 - even one 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, 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 (115)
  • anthonyr-
    10/28/2015 - 03:28 p.m.

    So you can get phobias when you are afraid?

  • seans-2-bar
    10/28/2015 - 06:08 p.m.

    Phobias tend to run in families due to genetically passed down traits, as evidence suggests in mice as stated in the above article. There might also be the case that since families live in the same area they are exposed to the same dangers and may develop a phobia. I was wondering the cause of phobias and this article educate me on this subject.

  • lucasl-3-bar
    10/28/2015 - 07:23 p.m.

    The article states that phobias tend to run in families and may be passed down genetically. It is likely that the genes passed down from the parents cause people to have phobias. Such genes that control behavior probably also control fears. Additionally, as children are influenced by their parents, their behavior could be affected by their families. The article later explains how life experiences play a role in phobias, and when people are young, their life experiences often relate to their family.
    The article provided a scientific description of a unique topic. It provided facts and details about phobias and their causes. The information was relevant to the topic and interesting to learn about.

  • sheilah-6-bar
    10/28/2015 - 11:43 p.m.

    Phobias can be genetically transferred through families from children copying their parent's behavior. It says in the article,"It's likely that genetics have a hand in phobias.These unwarranted fears tend to run in families and there's evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice." This shows how people, when they were children, they learned from their parents almost everything. They also learned what their parents were scared of, and copied them. I find this article interesting because I never thought of this topic before now. It showed me how phobias are given to a person.

  • baileyj-rob
    10/29/2015 - 10:24 a.m.

    Some kids may inherit phobias from their parents. Kids might also see their parents afraid of scared of something and act the same way.

  • williamb-4-bar
    10/29/2015 - 12:32 p.m.

    Genes in your family spread in weird ways like they give physical traits or phobias. The phobia that I have that has been passed down through my family from my mom is the fear of snakes.

  • genevieveb-6-bar
    10/29/2015 - 05:07 p.m.

    Phobias might tend to run in families because, if a parent has a phobia of something, then, subconsciously, their anxious actions may leave an impression of their child. In the article's middle, it states, "These unwarranted fears [phobias] tend to run in families" (paragraph 9). Since science has proven that he same phobia has appeared throughout generations in a family tree, the public can only assume that that is due to how children perceive their parents' reactions to something as how everyone reacts to whatever that certain stimulant may be. Phobias run in families because children see how their parents react to something, and therefore believe that that is the proper way to react.

    This article interested me because I find it fascinating that the human brain can develop a fear of random objects that are not meant to frighten one.

  • taylorl-3-bar
    10/29/2015 - 06:02 p.m.

    Phobias have a tendency to run in families because it is part of their genetics. The most simple types of phobias tend to go away on their own overtime, but the other ones make it harder for people to get over. A lot of the type the only thing left to do is go to therapy. I chose this article because I myself have a social phobia. I am afraid of people making fun of me for having an aid at school.

  • sofiat-4-bar
    10/29/2015 - 06:25 p.m.

    Phobias might tend to run in families this is because if you have grown up around the fear of one specific thing like spiders then your brain is wired to think that spiders are bad and they hould be feared. And they have dont tests "These unwarranted fears tend to run in families and there's evidence that they can be inherited biologically, at least in mice." i dont know about other people but i think that it is strange they made this claim without providing solid evidence, and yes they say "and there's evidence" but they dont actually give any. So if they can provide evidence i might beleive their claim.

  • lucasd-3-bar
    10/29/2015 - 06:25 p.m.

    Phobias run in families because the kids can inherit the traits of the parents. Line 8 states that the traits of the parents are biologically inherited, and fear of certain phobias are traits. This was an interesting article. Some how I have different fears then everyone in my family though.

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