When you’re a baby, you’re afraid of falling and loud noise, two things that signal danger. The majority of fear comes from the innate instinct of survival. Along with those two basic fears, many people are afraid of snakes and spiders, again because of a survival instinct. Evolution has caused a fear of venomous animals. Other fears, like clowns and skeletons, are all learned. The majority of fears are caused by nurture. You wouldn’t be afraid of halloween unless you were taught that or your parents told you it was scary. In that case, a phobia develops.
Phobias can deeply affect lives, making it so people can’t even leave the house. Along with how they affect people’s day to day lives, phobias are a great example of mainly learned fears. They develop because of negative exposure or can even be taught if a parent has a phobia. There are some phobias, like the fear of heights that are an extension of an innate fear, like the fear of falling. However, even if the phobia is from a innate fear, they progress. Phobias are an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something. In the definition, phobias are irrational. Fear is usually rational, innate fears are definitely rational. Phobias go beyond the immediate fear in a situation, they are usually something that occupy people’s mind. This article also provided some examples of treatment for fear like exposure which eventually leads to desensitization. Treatment is important for phobias so each patient can think rationally. However, fear is not something that can be eradicated. Fear occurs when a negative stimuli is presented, causing the amygdala to activate and that sends a signal of fear to the brain. Your brain responds with a fight or flight response. As for phobias, it does not always require a trigger, like a normal fear reaction does. It is something for people dwell on.
There are three main types of phobias; some that are developed from direct learning experiences, some that are developed from observational learning experiences, and some that are developed from informational learning. A directly learned phobia comes from a traumatic experience that happened to you like a fear of dogs after being bit as a kid or a fear of flying after going through some rough turbulence. An observationally learned phobia is picked up from your surroundings, usually a parents or guardians fears. For example, if your mom freaked whenever there was a spider, you would learn to be afraid of spiders. And the last type of phobia is one that is learned through information, this could be school, the news, or anywhere that you could see something scary or potentially dangerous. Many people were afraid of flying after 9/11 occured just because of what they heard and experienced, even if it was indirectly.
A great example of a learned phobia is triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. In an interview, Elizabeth Lampert claims that she is not scared on Friday the 13, but she is cautious and would avoid any activity out of her basic norm. She is not alone either. Many people say that they wouldn’t travel unless necessary. However, the Chicago airport does not see any trend or drop in flight attendant on Friday the 13’s. In the past there have been several events that indicate an irregularity with the number 13. For example, an example a lot of people tend to refer to when defending themself, is Apollo 13. Apollo 13 took off at 1:13, which is 13:13 military time and departed on the date 4/11/70, all digits that add up to 13. FDR is also a popular example to why this phobia exploded, he would never travel on Friday the 13 and that was publicly well known. FDR also died on the 12th of the month, avoiding 13 almost meticulously.
However, some people believe that 13 is a lucky number. This is definitely a smaller population compared to people with triskaidekaphobia but it still exists. On the past 185 Friday the 13ths, the stock market has risen by an average of 0.04%. Many people use 13 as a jersey number or an excuse to do something fun. While examining examples and possible source of triskaidekaphobia, it is hard to ignore that this phobia or fear is simple learned. No one is born with fear of 13 and no one is born thinking how lucky that number is. People like your parents, and possibly FDR, would have to show you how unlucky or lucky the number 13 is. This could be based on your experiences or a story of an experience probably by your guardians. This fear, like many other phobias, truly exists in people. It may seem like an excuse or a cop-out but this produces anxiety, something that all phobias tend to produce. Just because this fear is learned, and generally, not an actually scary thing, doesn’t mean that it isn’t real for a lot of people. In many cases, phobia can induce some anxiety.
Anxiety does not always need a trigger. I read another article that says anxiety may be another evolutionary issue, like fear. While this is all speculation, it is easy to assume that in ancient tribes people did not go far from home, because of anxiety. Or OCD, a branch of anxiety, was what kept ancient societies orderly. Within anxiety, people usually have certain triggers. But, like phobias, it could just be the thought of a trigger to cause a panic attack. Also, anxieties are often learned. They can stem from traumatic experiences or a fear instilled from parents or guardians. All the articles I read seemed to repeat the same thing, phobias are learned while fear is a biological response. Phobias are irrational and fear is inescapable. Unless you are some kind of dare devil who feeds on adrenaline, dangerous situations provoke sorts of anxiety. Overall, phobias are a great example of a certain kind of fear, one that is learned from your environment or experiences.
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Crippling Phobias by Clara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.