Do you suffer from a phobia, or know someone who does?

We’ve all heard of phobias but how much do we really know about them?

The word ‘phobia’ comes from the Greek word for ‘fear’.  We all have things that we fear but for this to be classed as a phobia it needs to be excessive and/or irrational, and to be having a significant detrimental impact on our lives, such as stopping us from doing something or going somewhere.

The list of possible things you can experience phobia of is endless. I wonder if you can guess what each of these phobias are?  (Answers are at the end of this article.)

  1. Triskaidekaphobia 
  2. Xanthophobia
  3. Acrophobia
  4. Coulrophobia
  5. Musophobia
  6. Koumopounophobia
  7. Odontophobia
  8. Ophidiophobia

When I was training to be a CBT therapist I made the mistake of telling my tutor that I had a phobia of spiders (arachnophobia).  If I saw a spider I would jump up on the nearest chair or run away.  I felt extreme anxiety at anything that looked remotely like a spider- even the tops of tomatoes! I wouldn’t go in sheds or anywhere else where one of our eight-legged friends might be lurking.  I say that telling my tutor was a mistake because I soon became the class guinea pig for exposure therapy – the CBT technique that banishes phobias. Whilst this was scary and embarrassing at the time, it all worked out well as I’m now fine with spiders and quite happy rooting around in the shed! 

Exposure therapy is all about learning to face our fears in a graded and structured way.  When we face our fear one step at a time we learn that the anxiety naturally diminishes without us having to do anything to make ourselves feel better.  We also realise that whatever our worst fear is, it doesn’t happen, and we are stronger than we thought.

Over the years I’ve helped many people overcome their phobias.  The most recent one was a lady struggling with flying – she recently texted me from her holiday in Australia! In the name of exposure therapy I’ve done some seemingly strange things in preparation for treatment sessions such as collecting bees in the local park, making up fake vomit and allowing a patient to watch whilst I had a flu vaccination!

So, how did you get on with guessing each of the phobias earlier?  Here are the answers …

  1. Number 13
  2. The colour yellow
  3. Heights
  4. Clowns
  5. Rats
  6. Buttons
  7. Dentists
  8. Snakes