Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What are you afraid of?

Aah! So you are afraid?
Don’t be ashamed; you are not the only one. We are all afraid of something. Fear is something inherent in all of living animals. We are born with it.
Fear, before it graduates into cowardice and phobia, is good. Fear is what keeps people and jungle animals alive.

Fear is a basic primal emotion that is key to evolutionary survival, especially survival of the weakest. It’s one thing we share with animals.

Phobia is an extreme, irrational fear which, generally, keeps us from enjoying some aspects of life. Psychologists say genetics plays a big role in the development of overwhelming ÔÇö and needless ÔÇö fear. But so do traumatic events.

“Fear is a funny thing,” said Ted Abel, a fear researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “One needs enough of it, but not too much of it.”

When fear turns into a phobia, someone has a big problem. Phobias are identified by extreme anxiety or panic every time a specific circumstance is encountered. Phobias and fear paralyse us, cause us to be indecisive, unproductive and depressed, freeze our lives and relationships and cause us physical illnesses, such as asthma, hypertension, stress disorder or heart attack.

Home Fellowship, a religiously based councelling organisation, says that our problem isn’t that we have these uncomfortable feelings called fear or phobia, “it’s what those feelings do to us.”
Novelist Mark Twain said once that he went through some terrible times in his life, “some of which actually happened.”

“We feel threatened by people, places, situations and things that are no threat to us at all, sometimes we are so threatened that these fears plunge us into depression,” says Home Fellowship.
“When we dream about doing things that would be pleasant or productive, fear comes in and squelches those dreams. Fear interferes with healthy relationships and causes us to imagine and react to conflict that isn’t there, creating the very conflict we imagined.”
Fear and phobia cause us to always focus on the worst possible outcome to any situation.

And there are as many phobias as there are people.
Imagine someone who is afraid of the dark. How do they live considering the daily almost 50/50 ratio of light and darkness? What is their problem with darkness and how do they cope?

An on-line site says that achluophobia, or nyctophobia, is fear of the dark and is more commonly a problem in childhood, “where experience hasn’t taught us when we’re safe.” Nyctophobia in adults, it says, is usually an indication we haven’t faced that fear early on, and, possibly, had some bad darkness experiences in the past.

As children, most of us have experienced some fear of the dark but our fears usually didn’t rise to the level of nyctophobia. “Rational fear of the dark is good for us, producing caution and alertness for the natural dangers of darkness,” says Home Fellowship, which also offers councelling and advise on how to overcome phobias. “Nyctophobia is an extreme and irrational anxiety response to darkness where we know we are safe, like in our bedroom. Symptoms include nausea, sweatiness, disorientation, loss of control…even panic attacks.”

As the best home therapy and remedy for children and adults, they suggest “facing the ‘monster in the closet’.
“As we become confident that darkness, itself, is no threat, we get back to a rational fear level.

Have you heard of people whose phobia is atychiphobia? You would think that these people are geniuses for atychiphobia is fear of failure. Sometimes people are so concerned about failing that they don’t try an activity they want to try.

“Other times our fear of failure is so strong we subconsciously undermine our own efforts so we don’t have to continue to try,” says Home Fellowship. “This is why many have linked it with the fear of success. Like so many other fears, this phobia is often so strong it brings about the very failure that was feared.”

It is reported that, often, this phobia is linked with early life causes, like demeaning parents or siblings, or traumatic events where a major embarrassment was the result of some minor failure. “Afterwards, the fear keeps building as the failures and embarrassment add up over childhood.”
It doesn’t help that our cultures seem to imply that perfection can be achieved in looks, relationships, careers, etc. “Perfection is an illusion, but the person with atychiphobia won’t try until perfection is assured.”

There are people who have aviophobia (the fear of flying), which is not the same as acrophobia (fear of heights) although they are often related.
Then there are people who have agoraphobia; they are afraid of open spaces like being in a crowd, standing in line, riding in a car, bus, etc. But there are also people who have claustrophobia, the fear of closed spaces.

Claustrophobia is identified by extreme anxiety or panic when in closed spaces, like elevators, cars, airplanes, etc. Imagine if an agoraphobic married a claustrophobic?

Claustrophobia symptoms can include always needing to know where the exit is, always wanting to be by the door even in a large room, always wanting to take the stairs out of fear of the elevator. The problem with claustrophobia, as with all anxiety disorders, if left untreated, it generally worsens to the point of becoming a disability.

People are afraid of so many things so much that almost everything is a phobia to humankind.

Here are a few ‘perculiar’ ones:
Fear of pain (Agliophobia)
Fear of sitting (Cathisophobia)
Fear of chickens (Alektorophobia)
Fear of dust (Amathophobia)
Fear of walking (Ambulophobia)
Fear of being touched (Aphenphosmphobia or Haphephobia
And my absolute favourite, Arachibutyrophobia- fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

I am made to understand that not only are there people who are afraid of books but are actually called bibliophobiacs. Do they know who they are? If so, how did they get to know since they are, I bet, illiterate?

And those who say that they have cathisophobia (the fear of sitting) can go and hang because we know that their butts have touched a stool or bench in their lifetime, unless perhaps they never went to school, rode on a bus or car or went to the toilet. And while they are hanging, they might as well hook up with chrematophobics ÔÇô those afraid of money.

But of all people I sympathise with, I feel sorry for those who have thantophobia or necrophobia. Fearing something that you can at least do something about is understandable but thantophobia is something else. Just what do you do with someone who is afraid of death?
Fear assists in the survival of the weakest.

As for me, I have a phobia of phobias. Phobias scare me because they limit me. And I do not like that.

However, I have no sympathy for those who have ablutophobia ÔÇô the fear of washing, bathing or cleaning. I bet you know why. I really would like to meet those with coitophobia. These are said to be afraid of coitus, sex, or sexual intercourse. Mama Mia!
I now stop right here. I am also afraid; I have euphobia (afraid of hearing good news).

Boogey, boogey, boogey!

Sources: Home Fellowship (Help With Life), Internet.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.