The difference between fear and phobia

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What are phobias?

A phobia is an excessive fear of something that is not harmful like a spider or a dog. Even though the person who suffers from a phobia knows that his way of thinking is not rational still he feels anxious when he gets exposed to the thing he fears.

The difference between fears and phobias

the difference between fears and phobias is that phobias are irrational or excessive fears that make no sense for the ordinary person. If the phobic person were to think rationally he won't have feared that object that triggers his phobic response.

Fear on the other hand is a normal human emotion experienced when a person faces a certain kind of threat. Fear is not a bad emotion just like some people think. In Fact fear has helped our ancestors survive the different threats they faced.

The main function of fear is to protect a person from something that might cause harm to him. See Emotions are just messages

In other words fear is your normal alarm system that fires whenever you are in danger. Now what happens with a phobia is that a false alarm is fired. A tiny spider can never kill or harm a person for example but it might terrify some people.

In short if the fear is intense and irrational then probably it is a phobia.

What are the types of phobias?

There many types of phobias below is a list of some of the most popular ones:

The good news is that unlike depression many of the phobias won't prevent you from doing your daily activities. For example if you fear spiders you are unlikely to leave your work and run unless there is a spider around.

Irrational fears

Not all irrational fears are considered phobias. The problem with the term fear is that it's very broad that it could describe so many different things. A person could fear the future for example and while his fears can be irrational to a certain extent still this doesn't mean that this fear has turned into a phobia.

Phobias are usually situational. This means that a person has to encounter something or go through a certain situation in order for his phobic response to be triggered.

Phobias treatment

phobias can be treated using many ways, the most famous methods used are: Cognitive behavior therapy Which is treatment method that can help you change your perception of the object you fear by changing the way you think about it. This can help in preventing the phobic response.

Exposure therapy where you get exposed to the object you fear until you discover that its harmless

hypnosis and Neuro linguistic programming where you are taught how to alter the internal image of the object in your mind and replace it with a new one that doesn't trigger you phobic response.

Phobia's can also be treated by different forms of exposure. Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy that allows people to get exposed to their fears in a controlled environment. As a result of this exposure those people get used to the objects they used to fear and so their phobias disappear.

Sometimes the mind uses a phobia to remind a person unconsciously of one of his unsolved problems. For example a phobia of watches could be a reminder the mind uses to remind a person about his unmet goals. In such a case the real fear of the unconscious mind is the passage of time.

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did that help ?

i am not sure if i suffer from phobia,what are phobia symptoms?

Yeah i always feel self conscious , what to do?

i fear heights, what to do?

i guess i suffer from agoraphobia

i fear dark places, what to do?

tell me about cognitive behavior therapy ?

i want to know more details on exposure therapy

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