Fear is an emotion. It is generally induced when the subject perceives a threat. Phobia is the Greek word for ‘fear’ and can be defined as the “excessive or unreasonable fear of an object, place or situation.
The difference between fear and phobia
Does that mean that fear and phobia are one and the same? The answer, according to experts, is NO. There is a subtle difference between what is fear and what can be termed as phobia. The main difference lies in the intensity and severity of the emotions experienced in fear and phobia.
Consider the following example:
It is dark, and you are out for a walk. Suddenly a dog jumps on you and bites you. What do you feel? Pain, fear, shock and terror. But will you turn into a dog phobic? The answer is probably not. Imagine for an instance the dog went away or was restrained. Naturally, your fear would subside. However, there are people who have a phobia towards dogs (and that is termed as Cynophobia). In such people, the memory would be relived over and over and the person would be afraid of all dogs, including small poodles, and the great big Danes. He or she would keep thinking of the situation again and again.
In short: Phobia is the heightened form of fear. The Phobic person often tries to fight his phobia leading to greater form of anxiety and also experiences extreme fatigue in the process.
Simply put: Phobia = Fear²
What are different types of phobias?
There are several types of phobias. The common types of phobias can be divided into ‘simple’ phobias or ‘social’ phobias. Simple phobias mainly include fear of specific types of objects, insects or situations such as the fear of flying. Social phobias includes the types of phobias like marked fear of social or performance situations.
How do phobias start? What are the signs and symptoms?
Phobias are very common and may sometimes develop in childhood itself. Traumatic events, anxiety or panic causing situations can trigger the onset of a phobia. Symptoms include:
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in chest/abdomen
- Intense fear that may lead to embarrassing oneself
- Passing out
Phobics try very hard to avoid the triggers of their phobia.
How to cope with various types of phobias?
Cognitive behavior therapy can help a phobic:
- Confront the situation
- Deal with his/her frightening thoughts
For example, a person with the fear of spiders is encouraged to read up on spiders, touch their pictures, touch a jar containing the spider , touch the rubber models of spiders and so on, until the individual is able to pick up a large spider.
Therapists also encourage the phobic to write down frightening thoughts along with rational thoughts. For example: people with fear of heights can write:
- I fear I will fall from the building
- And counter this statement by saying: I have stood here several times and nothing of the sort has happened
Everyone is afraid of something
Consider the following points if something frightens you:
- There are several different types of phobias and some are arguably worse than others.
- If you are suffering from any of these phobias, you are not alone. Approximately 10 percent of Americans are known to suffer from at least one type of phobia.
- If your phobia is interfering with your normal life, i.e., you are avoiding situations which matter or are experiencing extreme anxiety, sweating or trembling etc, then there are several counseling approaches that can help you.
For more information on different types of phobias, see the comprehensive phobia list.
Cameron H. says
I have a phobia of sirens and the dark. One time the power went out, and I couldn’t stop screaming. Similar to when the tornado siren tests came on.
This is a great website and I never knew this many phobias existed.
Thank you so much for this website! I have a few phobias that all kinda relate to each other in some way. My first one is athazagoraphobia, which is the fear of being forgotten and my second one is autophobia, the fear of being abandoned. My last one is the most difficult to cope with though and is the most complicated for me. Because of my previous two phobias, this is a difficult one to have. Philophobia- fear of love or falling in love. I want it so bad but it terrifies me so much i want to throw up when confronted by someone who likes me. Ive never had a boyfriend before or have been on any dates either. I dont know what to expect and family experiences with a bad man didnt help my phobia of love. Thanks loads for the website it really helps me feel not so left out and to feel like im not so alone!
Yeah you’re not alone dear. I’ve got that philophobia too.
I have a combined fear of the dark, doors and being alone. I’m afraid to be alone in a room or a place where there is a door, especially slightly ajar, behind which is dark, or if there is anything obstructing my view and I don’t know what is behind it. This fear gets stronger after everyone at home falls asleep before me, and there are no lights or sounds of their presence. I try to sleep with my dog and it helps a lot, but he goes to sleep around 21. And I usually around midnight. My dad is a late sleeper and he usually goes to sleep at 2, so the whole house is lit, and I don’t feel alone at all. But yesterday he had to go to sleep earlier and at 00:30 I was so afraid to move, that I only gathered the courage to turn off the light at 1:45. Due to the radiators and other stuff creaking I panicked. I laid in bed for half an hour terrified and with a stomach hurting from fear. And I ran to wake up my parents so that one of them would sleep with me. The worst part is that I’m afraid that precisely the moment that I stop being afraid and lose my vigilance, something bad will happen and someone/something hiding in the dark will hurt me. I also don’t want to watch horror movies, even the not too scary ones. I’m not too afraid during the movie, but it heightens my fear afterwards. My mum and boyfriend don’t really understand and when I tell them I’m afraid they try to scare me even more for fun. I’m 20, this is not normal. What can I do?
Same, I can’t stand it.
This website helped a lot! After doing my research, I have found that I am cleithrophobic, the fear of being trapped, which is also associated with claustrophobia, which is far more common. It would be great if you added that. You don’t have to! Thanks.
I’ve just now come across this website, trying to see what phobia I have, and it has helped me understand that I have anxiety. But I have a severe fear of not being able to protect myself, and I couldn’t find the name here, so if anybody knows, please tell me!
This is very helpful. And I am only 7!!!!
Emy vanderhoek says
I am currently only 11 and I have realized that I have many phobias, things that when I think about them I have panic attacks. I have chronophobia the fear of the future. It scares me to think that out in the world, so much is happening, and if I just sit in the dark or a quiet place and think about all the things happening, it genuinely terrifies me. I need help. I do not have a single clue what to do if someone wants to try and help me.
Michaela Freeman says
I hope this message reaches you. The world is objectively a scary place. But if everyone stayed in a dark room, you wouldn’t have been born at all. However tragic the events shown in media may be, the world is a happier and safer place than it ever was. This is hard to believe, but there are objective studies on this, from many different perspectives – food safety, shelter availability, quality of education and medicine, ability to be free and do your own thing without someone killing you for it, the relative scale of wars etc. Many areas of the world are still sort of living in dark ages, but this is slowly changing. What you see in the media is, to a large degree, the reports on how slow and painful this change is.
I once counted that if you consider a generation to be roughly 20 years and the common way to count the history of mankind, then there were about 6000 women who gave birth (many of them in horrific circumstances) in order for you to be born. That’s a lot of people!
Imagine that lineage of brave and strong people behind you. They weren’t perfect, they simply did the best they could, but they survived long enough to deliver babies, feed them and eventually to make you. Their wisdom and power is in your every cell. You too have the ability to make choices, to go out there and face whatever your life will bring.
Your challenges may be new and different, but they are not likely to be harder than those of your ancestors. Wherever you go, feel them going with you. Be proud of them and think of it all as an absolute miracle. You are here, you are healthy, you have choices, you have power. If they could talk to you, they would say “You have everything we hoped for and fought for. What are you waiting for? Go!”
I hope this helps. There is the old saying of “There’s nothing to fear except fear itself.” I tell you that this is true. Believe me and you’ll see. I’m someone who does a lot of stuff that is officially considered impossible. I run projects where we help disabled children and I’ve seen many “miracle recoveries.” I grew up in a Communist regime in which I would have likely been killed, given how outspoken I am, but I made it somehow and here I am, 30 years of freedom behind me and “doing the impossible.”
Don’t let any fear stop you. Acknowledge it, embrace it, thank it for letting you know that something is important and significant. Then take a deep breath and go, do it anyway. Don’t fight your fears, take them for a ride. Half-way through it, they will be gone.
This has been super helpful I’ve been able to learn about more about my phobias Astraphobia, Apiphopia, and Spheksophopia. And also I’ve been able to find out about some of the odder phobias and have fun trying to pronounce the names with my friend on the bus.
hi from cleveland
I have Glossophobia and this website has really helped me in determining that i have this phobia and if any one has solutions to my issue it would be most welcome to know
I have Nyctophobia the fear of the dark. I have had it for as long as i can remember, I constantly feel like someone will kill me and that someone is watching me if i’m in the dark ill scream and cry and start to shake and put myself in a corner because that’s where i feel safest. my back doesn’t feel safe, in summer when i’m sweating i refuse to sleep without blankets because i feel like ill be taken (this could be another phobia if it is can someone please tell me what its called) its a constant fear even in broad day light
I have the exact same symptoms, down to the letter. I hate being in dark places and feel like something is coming to get me, and crawling crazy panic washes over me, although having another person close by helps a bit. The blanket thing for me has gotten a bit better, it used to be so bad that I had two heavy down quilts on in summer and didn’t sleep.
putri pz says
This website is really helping me learn what is actually happening to me lately.
I am afraid of being alone at night
I never knew that I had Enochlophobia, the fear of crowds. If it is possible, could you give more strategies to help get rid of this phobia? There were strategies to calm down, but not ones to stop it. Thanks!
Thank you so much for this website. I have found out some of my new phobias. One phobia I had not seen here was Zuigerphobia, the fear of Vacuum Cleaners, which I have. I really want to know more about this phobia. It is fine if you don’t input this phobia but it would be great if you did. Impressive job on this website! You should really be proud because you are really changing peoples lives in a positive way. Thank you!
Thank gosh I thought i was weird for being a grown woman afraid of the vacuum. My mum sweepered up my hand and took the top skin of my hand off when I was 2 and since then whenever someone comes at me with one I scream and cry. I can run it myself but if someone else is using it I can’t be around them.
Anyone else have a fear of sand and the beach
Ivah Thomas says
i know right
I have found this website very helpful. It has helped me find out more about my two phobias: Nosophobia, the fear of illness, and Thanatophobia, the fear of death. My Nosophobia has recently surfaced after reading, hearing, and watching things about sickness. I am only 11 years old, but have two phobias that are damaging my school life and family life.
I have to write a report… :(
Guy W Moore says
My fear is of falling,I’m 69 years old,had both knees replaced and have fallen a few times,now I get lightheaded maybe a little dizzy when I walk.
I’m terrified of dead animals. Dead people? Fine. What is this phobia called and how to explain to people when I run screaming down the street at the sight of a dead bird. Still scared of the place I saw a dead snail. I can’t go fish shopping all those dead things. What should I do??
John McDonald says
I Have a Fear of Dying, I picture myself laying on my Death Bed Grasping for Air, Not being Able to Breath, Like im Drowning or Being in a Lot of Pain when i Die! It Scares me Very, Very Much.. To the Point of Having a Panic Attack, What can i do to Stop this from Happening? Im Tired of being Afraid!
As I think brother you can stop that by telling yourself that everyone will die and if you die it doesn’t mean you are the first or the last person who will die so never ever try to feel that dying is a bad thing and tell youself that this is only a dream. It doesn’t mean that you are really going to die, maybe you will die one day, maybe too soon or too far whatever, just believe that everyone will test the death.
That’s my opinion
Just remember that when you die, it will most likely be painless, and if not, there will be very short-lived pain. It depends on your beliefs, but no matter what it will be over as quick as it starts.
I’m an adult and suffer with monophobia, agoraphobia, fear of death or/and the pain of death, social anxiety,Panic attacks, my list is long. Help would be most welcome.
I have a fear of going to school, its so bad, everytime i wasnt in school with all these people for like two days I cant even sleep at night. Every time when i am standing in front of the class and have to speak I cant say a word and its getting hard for me to breath.
just face your fear and see how it goes
Endless Hope says
That is not how it works. They can’t just ‘face their fear’. They need help. Phobias are irrational. They cause panic. And a fear of school can only be found by facing the fear, and still fearing it.
just sayin says
I suppose a fear of the fear of phobias is called phobophobphobia??
zackary reeds says
I have a fear of looking up at tall buildings that I can’t go into a city without being freaked out by the tall structures.
I have fear of birds, heights, terrorists, poison, panic attacks, hospitals, doctors, the dark, the woods, any kind of zoo, tsunamis and riptides, drowning and being buried alive, school, knives, spiders, long roads, and mostly blood because all these things make me either vomit or pass out.
Me too. Hope I will learn to avoid it.
thejaswini shetty says
What is the phobia called those who has fear of riding bike?
Probably transperphobia, but I may be wrong
My fears are heights and holes T_T
And i forgot to add my other fear crowds..
I am a Kinemortophobic (having the fear of zombies). I know they are not real, but the nightmares and the fact that, indeed a zombie virus is possible, is so scary. All those stupid movies and games where people get mauled or turned into zombies freak me out. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to empathize such a scary topic.
Jennie Alexandros says
I have a fear of holes…
I fear milliped but am trying my best to conquer it. At the sight of it I shout and run but I do kill it because I hate it.
Tessie Dangaran says
Usually, I have lepidopterophobia or fear of butterflies. Even if it is very small, I still scream. My classmates wondered why I screamed when I saw a butterfly. But one day, I read your advice and I followed it and I conquered my fear of butterflies. Thanks for everything!
Naomi van Schalkwyk says
What do you call the fear if you are afraid to leave your house to face outside reality?
Omg yes i know! I have this same phobia but i cant find the name of it!
I get scared of rainfalls.
Hi, my fear is about sharp objects.
Constance Wobodo says
Thanks for making this website. I have phobia for snakes and I can’t even look at pictures of them. Even though I have never seen a live snake or a dead one. On movies I try not to look at them. And after reading on this site I can now face this phobia and say live snakes do not exist around me and the one in the picture cannot harm me.
Hi! My phobia is agoraphobia, the fear of crowds, but I don’t usually experience it because there are not many crowds so I can safely go outside.
Here’s a weird phobia: soteriophobia. The fear of the dependence on others or outside forces is very rare.
I didn’t know some of these phobias actually existed. I’m both vehophobic and androphobic to an extent. It’s tough because I can’t form a normal relationship with a guy. It’s extremely stressful for me when people try to hook me up with someone knowing that I’m uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel depressed when I see happy couples but, I just can’t bring myself to calm down and relax. I tend to run away from the opposite gender. Sometimes it’s the opposite, when they see how odd I am thanks to this phobia. As for the vehophobia, I can only drive calmly on a highway. As soon as I have to drive around town, drive in a busy area and most importantly, somewhere I’ve never been to before, I start to panic. I once had to drive my cousin somewhere and as I was making my way back, missed an exit and had an extreme anxiety attack (hyperventilating, crying, and to the point I had to pull over until I calmed myself down. I had my GPS on the entire time so, imagine if I had no GPS). At least with the driving, I have improved a lot and am able to control myself.
Well, I really have phobias.. It’s true that I get to panic.
Barbara page says
I fear pictures of spiders and I can’t look at bad pictures of nasty diseases. I get anxiety and panic attacks.
I have an extreme phobia of bugs. When I see a live one I freeze and can’t move and if one touches me I scream, cry and run away. I’ve tried confronting my phobia but it just seems to get worse! I’m eighteen and I can dive into the ocean without a care, but bugs? No. I can’t look at pictures or even talk about them. I’m so done with being made fun of for my phobia too. Any ideas on how to get help?
Athena Cofee says
Remember that you are 1,000 maybe 100,000 times bigger than them and they are more afraid of you than you are afraid of them.You can easily kill a bug but they can’t even hurt you.But even though I know this I have a fear of spiders so I might not be of any help to you.
My biggest fears in life are fear of work and fear of driving. Both of these have hindered me in a lot of ways and it’s only been within the last year and a half that I’ve tried to really learn about them and myself to start gaining the confidence to break away from my fears.
And although there are a lot of times when I become depressed and disheartened because it feels like I’m moving too slow, I know that small steps are 100x better then not moving at all.
Thanks for making this website. It will always help people.
Gomolemo Msayi says
Well I really enjoyed this website and it helped me overcome my anxiety and fear.