Phobia Fundamentals

It is estimated that more than 10 percent of the U.S. population, including children, adolescents, and adults, have phobias. Over 6.3 million Americans have specific phobias, and more than 5.3 million suffer from social phobia. Phobias can occur in conjunction with other anxiety disorders. For example, those with panic disorder may also suffer from agoraphobia, and people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have hemophobia, the fear of blood.

The phobic response is essentially the “fight or flight” reaction. You see the feared thing, or experience the feared situation; your brain interprets it as dangerous, and your body's defense mecanism is jump-started. There are seemingly countless different phobias, and millions of people suffer from them, including famous people. Napoleon Bonaparte suffered from ailurophobia—fear of cats; Sigmund Freud was an agoraphobe, afraid of unfamiliar places andopen spaces; Edgar Allan Poe was claustrophobic, afraid of small spaces; and Aretha Franklin is aerophobic, frightened of flying.

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