What is Fear

Created by Jabin.M In Psychology 7 April 2022

What is fear?

Fear is a normal emotional reaction to something recognized as a danger or threat. In other words, fear response will arise from the perception of threatening stimuli or expectation of any threats in the future. Fear is necessary to the extent that it will help people to stay safe as a survival mechanism. For instance, a child is afraid of snakes. It will make the child stay away from it, which helps avoid an accident. Fear can be mild, moderate, and intense, just like all other emotions. 

Understanding Phobias 

Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It may cause an individual to experience extreme and unbearable fear of an object, place, situation, or animal. 

According to DSM 5, phobias fall into three categories: - social Phobia, specific Phobia, and agoraphobia. Social Phobia refers to an extreme fear of social interactions. It is also known as Social Anxiety Disorder. People with social Phobia will be very anxious and afraid of social situations like public speaking, talking in a group, initiating a conversation, Etc. They fear being negatively judged by others. Specific Phobia is a persistent and intense fear of specific objects or situations. People will become extremely anxious in the presence of those objects or situations. Claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places), Arachnophobia (fear of spiders), Cynophobia (fear of dogs), Vermiphobia (fear of worms), Aerophobia (fear of air travel) are some examples of specific phobias. Agoraphobia is an excessive fear of having panic attacks in situations from which escape is impossible, such as crowded rooms, public transportations, Etc. Agoraphobia is not a specific phobia since it is closely related to panic disorder. 

Fear v/s Phobia

The difference between fear and Phobia lies in the normality of fear and the abnormality of Phobia. Fear is a normal response to a threat, while Phobia refers to an extreme unnecessary fear response even if there is no presence of a threat. As we discussed above, fear is sometimes necessary to be aware of the danger that will not affect our routines. Nevertheless, Phobia is an intense emotional reaction to a threat that will affect our daily functions or routines. In Phobia, simply thinking about a threat is enough to bring anxiety symptoms. That is why it is also known as an irrational fear. Another important difference is that we can control our normal fear responses, while Phobia is out of our control. Therefore, they should seek professional help to treat it. Exposure therapy is commonly used to treat phobias. 


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