The Fear Factor: Phobias
From aviophobia, the fear of flying, to zelophobia, the fear of jealousy, the list of phobias that harrow the human mind runs long.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only thing we
have to fear is fear itself," he was describing phobophobia -- the fear of
Though FDR had a different message in mind, he unknowingly
hit on something else: Phobias run the gamut of life and include everything
from spiders to outer space.
"The most common phobias involve natural disasters or
elements, like water and lightning; animals or insects, like spiders; and
blood, injuries, or injections, such as people who faint at the sight of blood
or a needle," says Hoganbruen.
Fear of flying is another a well-recognized phobia, and since
9/11, has only gotten worse.
"Fear of flying, in recent times, has become more
common," says Hoganbruen. "Since 9/11, it has come up much more than it
did in the past."
Then there are social phobias, which include the fear of public
speaking, the fear of test taking, or the fear of people, in general.
According to Phobialist.com, which catalogues hundreds of
tormenting phobias, people suffer from the fear of the number 8, or octophobia,
and the fear of 13, triskaidekaphobia; the fear of noise, or acousticophobia;
the fear of ventriloquists dummies or wax statues, or automatonophobia; the
fear of sitting down, or kathisophobia; and the fear of beautiful women, or
How can a person possibly be treated for the fear of all that
is the number 8 -- eight french fries on a plate, eight words in a sentence,
eight on the jersey of a football player?
Fear No More
"People are generally not treated for phobias," says
Wilson. "A very small percentage -- 6% of people with a phobia -- go in for
treatment, in part because they are not totally disabled by it, so they find
their way around."
Not before a person's phobia is extremely severe do they seek
help, Wilson explains to WebMD.
"The treatment that was most common in the past was called
systematic desensitization," says Wilson. "It was a pretty standard
treatment -- people were taught to relax and in that relaxed state, in a
hierarchical way, they would have increased degrees of exposure to their