Simple phobia typically involves a strong fear and avoidance of one particular type of object or situation. There are no spontaneous panic attacks, and there is no fear of panic attacks, as in agoraphobia. There is also no fear of humiliation or embarrassment in social situations, as in social phobia. Direct exposure to the feared object or situation may elicit a panic reaction, however. The fear and avoidance are strong enough to interfere with your normal routines, work, or relationships, and to cause you significant distress. Even though you recognize its irrationalities, a specific phobia can cause you considerable anxiety.
Among the most common simple phobias are the following:
Fear of Animals
- Often these phobias begin in childhood, when they are considered normal fears. Only when they persist into adulthood and disrupt your life or cause significant distress do they come to be classified as specific phobias. Very seldom does this fear require the need for psychotherapy since in virtually all cases the fear does not interfere with one's life. For example, if one is afraid of snakes, the best thing to do is probably to not walk in areas where there might be snakes. In this hypothetical case, this fear would only be of concern if one wanted to work in a camp, park, etc.
Acrophobia (Fear of Heights)
- With Acrophobia, you tend to be afraid of high floors or buildings or of finding yourself stop mountains, hills, or high-level bridges.
- This most often involves a fear that the cables will break, and the elevator will crash or a fear that the elevator will get stuck and you will be trapped inside. You may have panic reactions but have no history of panic disorder or agoraphobia.
- This most often involves a fear that the plane will crash. Alternatively, it can involve a fear that the cabin will depressurize, causing you to asphyxiate. More recently, phobias about planes being hijacked or bombed have become common. When flying, you may have a panic attack with or without a history of panic disorder or you may fear your will have a panic attack and be "trapped". Fear of flying is a very common phobia; approximately 10 percent of the population will not fly at all, while an additional 20 percent experience considerable anxiety while flying.
Simple phobias generally are usually benign disorders which begin in childhood and rarely get worse and often diminish over time.
Probably the kinds of phobias that tend to interfere most with a person's life include the fear of flying or driving. In both cases, relaxation training, cognitive therapy, and exposure have been very successful in helping individuals suffering from these specific phobias. I have work almost primarily with fearful flyers who either fly with great anxiety or those who due to fear have never flown. I have flown several times to Europe and all over the U.S.A. I NEVER feel safer. You can overcome this fear. There are a vast variety of techniques to help you reduce or eliminate your anxiety so that you actually enjoy flying. Yes, you can learn to enjoy flying — but change does not occur by doing nothing. Be proactive! Take action! In the 10-week program I offer, you will fly ONLY when you are ready. I also work with individuals suffering from any of the above simple phobia.