From common phobias such as claustrophobia, acrophobia (heights), and arachnophobia (spiders) to more uncommon, and seemingly frivolous ones such as koumpounophobia (buttons) and ichthyophobia (fish), the list is endless. No matter what their intensity is, getting rid of our fears is important for our overall well-being.
Fears and phobias need no nintroduction. We all have encountered them in one way or another. Whether it’s a fear of failure or a phobia of cockroaches (quite a popular one in Hong Kong), everyone has some objet de la peur, of varying degree and intensity.
In broad terminology, fears and phobias are often viewed as analogous and used interchangeably. In psychology– speak however, each has its own definition, categorisation, symptoms, causes and the resulting cures. A fear is associated with something that is viewed as perceived danger or threat. In the context of clinical psychology, phobia is a type of anxiety disorder and is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In essence, however, both cause us anxiety, stress and a barrage of unpleasant emotions, which in turn debilitate our wellness and spirit.
“Phobia is an intense, uncontrollable and irrational fear of something,” says Helene Liu, founder and CEO of The Masterminds Group in Hong Kong. “We are not born with that fear. Babies don’t have phobias of animals or heights. Fears and phobias are learnt – an event or something takes place in one’s life, which leads one from having no fear to developing one, in an instant. If it’s learnt instantly, we can unlearn it promptly too.”