Ophidiophobia – fear of snakes
According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (more commonly referred to as DSM-IV), a phobia is a kind of anxiety disorder wherein a person has an irrational and sometimes intense fear towards an object or situation. This happens even when the situation or the object being feared is relatively safe.
Each one of us suffers from our own fears. It may be fear of a particular object like spiders, rodents, dogs, blood, water, cramped spaces or heights. Some people may also suffer from being in front of people, or being shy in public. While others suffer from being in crowds, or being alone, or leaving the house to go outside. Whatever it is that causes the fear, it is not rooted in reason.
In fact, a phobia may seem silly to other people who are observing the sufferer. They might even think it is funny, but a phobia can be very debilitating to those who have it.
Many clinicians and psychologists can help you overcome a severe phobia. If you have a tremendous fear of spiders, for example, you might be exposed spiders with the therapist helping you adjust your reactions and control your fears. There are other therapies available for treating phobias, including medication and cognitive behavior therapy.
As mentioned, phobias are not uncommon. The National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that 1 in 10 adults suffer from extreme phobia. The five most common phobias are:
1. Fear of snakes, dogs, spiders
Clinically, this is ophidiophobia, cynophobia and arachnophobia. The fear of animals such as snakes, dogs and spiders may stem from personal experiences like having a dog bit you as a child, or seeing people on TV die from snake bites or spiders. For most people, the thought of having a spider crawl over your body is enough to give you goose bumps, but those who suffer from these type of phobias often have panic attacks, which can be severe enough to disable them.
2. The fear of dirt and germs
Mysophobia or germaphobia is often seen in people who suffer from OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Mysophobics are overly concerned with cleanliness and tend to avoid unclean objects, being in contact with other people. They usually wash hands obsessively. They think that germs will bring diseases and death.
3. Fear of being in open spaces
Agoraphobia is often characterized by the fear of leaving a safe place like your home, or being in crowded place like malls and parks, or generally open spaces. Agoraphobics hate the thought of having emergency situations in these places that they might stay at home for years on end. People suffering from agoraphobia have their designated safety zones, and if they are taken out of these safety zones, they experience panic attacks.
4. Fear of high places, or heights
Acrophobia can cause a person to become immobile in high places, while being very anxious and extremely fearful. Most acrophobics have jumped to their deaths in an effort to escape the high places that they found themselves in. Acrophobics can find simple things like reaching for something on top of the cupboard, changing lightbulbs, or even climbing stairs very difficult to do.
Glossophobia – fear of speaking in public
5. Stage fright
Glossophobia is the fear of speaking in public. Glossophobics tend to be very anxious before they are scheduled to talk to an audience or even from thinking about it. They usually avoid having to speak in public where people’s attention is on them. They may suffer from stage fright, nausea, panic attacks or even physical distress.