Phobia Treatment and Understanding

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Phobias are perceptions of either particular objects or circumstances in other cases. There is little distinction between fear and phobias that are somewhat similar, but vary greatly from each other. In particular, as opposed to phobias that cause serious problems, the fears lack the element of causing or presenting major problems. Moreover, concerns are not as persistent as phobias. Phobias vary from anxiety triggered by very ambiguous, complex or ever-changing stimuli, both unknown and pervasive (Sharma, 2016). Agoraphobia, social phobias, and basic phobias are some of the phobias that are frequently studied. These are the ones that called or classified as Phobic disorders in clinical intensities are. For the three forms of phobias the agoraphobia, simple or specific phobia and the social phobias much as they affect individuals are possible to solve or manage efficiently through controlled exposure to the stimuli. The management of such phobias is also possible through the common sense approach, medication or simply understanding the sources of stimuli for the simple phobias as well as other measures that will feature in this paper specific to the various types of phobias.

Understanding Phobia and Treatments That Can Help

Thesis Statement

The various forms of phobia in all ages from children to adults require an understanding the fear that is core or stimuli to solve the disorder (Crozier, Gillihan, Powers, 2011).


Phobias are fears either of specific objects or in other instances of situations. The fears may seem excessive and as a result, lead to avoidance or flight. Whenever one has a phobia of anything, it may be a sign of ego anxiety, which arises whenever individual fear that the social relations they are trying to protect face threats their personal desires (Sharma, 2016). A thin line exists between the fear and phobias that are somewhat similar but have a significant difference from each other in that the fears lack the aspect of causing or posing significant problems in comparison to phobias that cause significant problems. Moreover, fears are not persistent as phobias.

Phobias differ from anxiety occasioned by somewhat vague, dynamic or ever-changing, unknown as well as pervasive stimuli (Sharma, 2016). The dangers in phobias tend to be not obviously dangerous and not easily avoided. Several phobias that are often studied and they are Agoraphobia, Social phobias, and Simple phobias.

Agoraphobia was a name given by Westphal to a group of symptoms that patients experienced while walking in streets or open spaces (Wiederhold & Bouchard, 2014). Social Phobia, on the other hand, is fear of being stared; it is the excessive fear that one has made him or her perceive that social interaction or performance will be either inadequate or leading to embarrassment and humiliation. Such people avoid gazing at their interlocutors, and they avoid a social setting that is feared (Pilling et al., 2013). Simple or specific phobias according to nearly all epidemiological studies are the phobias that are most prevalent it is an intense fear of either objects or situations. They can develop in response to anything commonly to heights, animals, darkness, or enclosed spaces (Crozier, Gillihan, & Power, 2011).


Agoraphobia, which means “fear of the marketplace,” based on a Greek etymology agora. Westphal who was the first person to come up with the term in 1871 described it as avoidance of public places. This condition though discovered was not widely recognized until later in the late 1970s. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition described Agoraphobia in 3 Criterion; Criterion A, that Agoraphobia, appeared as anxiety about some different places or situations which escape would appear as a challenge or difficult or embarrassing if some unforeseen or unwanted bodily symptoms occurs. Criterion B is because either the patient will avoid the situation in question or availability of a person trusted endures with a lot of distress. Finally, Criterion C was that the anxiety in question not explained well by the other two disorders which are Social Phobia and Specific phobia (Stevens, 2006). Common agoraphobic situations that affect individuals are shopping malls, restaurants, as well as theaters, public transportation among others.


Agoraphobia is treatable in some methods, however; care is necessary to ensure that diagnosis of agoraphobia applied correctly to make sure that any other condition is not mistaken for agoraphobia. Situational exposure appears as the core or central means to psychological treatment of agoraphobic individuals. However, the main way of the treatment is the repeated contact of the individual with the avoided situation as the client is experiencing moderate anxiety levels. Another most beneficial way of achieving treatment is teaching the client on how to apply progressive relaxation in the agoraphobic situations (Stevens, 2006).

When Agoraphobia is present, and one has Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, treatment should begin with a study of the physiological nature of fear and the harmlessness of the fight or flight response. Mental restructuring is critical to the treatment as it helps address the misappraisal of the stimuli and the clients encouraged to engage the activities that induce the fear. Finally, the agoraphobic situations identified and hierarchically organized and treatment continues with the feared situations exposed to the individual systematically (Stevens H.H., 2006).

Social Phobia

Social Phobia is fear of being stared; it is the excessive fear that one has made him/her perceive that social interaction or performance will be either inadequate leading to embarrassment and humiliation. Such people avoid gazing at their interlocutors, and they avoid a social setting that is feared (Pilling et al., 2013). Social phobia cases mostly undergo underreporting, and this may cause the patients to delay seeking help, which in effect may lead to increased chances of suicide or on the other hand increased chances of comorbidity.

A proper diagnosis of the social phobia will depend on whether there was careful attention to not only the patient’s history but also whether the criteria for diagnosis take place properly (Pilling et al., 2013). The ascertainment of the cause of the social phobia is yet to take place since there are both the psychological as well as the biological factor appears to be in play for the same.

There is a common feature between agoraphobia and social phobia called avoidance of specific social situations. However, to be able to tell the difference will require careful diagnosis through asking questions (Pilling et al., 2013). A person that has agoraphobia will respond in a negative and fearful way whereas a social phobic person will be affirmative if the question is, “Could you go to a relatively busy shopping mall without talking to anyone?” Social phobias should also be distinct from separation anxiety in children, panic disorders, avoidant personality disorder (Pilling et al., 2013).

In the diagnosis of the social phobia according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition, one is said to have social phobia if first, they are persistently afraid of social or performance situations which will cause the patient to feel that they are subject to scrutiny by others or strangers (Pilling et al., 2013). The individual will have a fear that they may behave in a humiliating or embarrassing manner. If children are to undergo diagnosis, they must have attained an age seen to be appropriate for social interactions, and the nervousness occurs among peers and not only with adults (Pilling et al., 2013).

Secondly, one tends to have social phobia if the exposure to the stimuli, which is the feared social situation, must strike situational related panic because of the stimuli. For children, this is evident through crying or throwing tantrums or freezing (Pilling et al., 2013). Third, the patient must have insight that the fear or the anxiety that he has is entirely unreasonable. In particular, this may be absent for the children. Fourth, the patient is inclined to avoid the stimuli or the situation or forced to endure it with deep worry or sorrow.

The fifth factor to consider is that the avoided, anticipated situation or the situations that lead to distress are significantly affecting the everyday activity or routine of the individual (Pilling et al., 2013). Sixth is that for people of the age of 18 and below it lasts for more than six months and finally that the distress, avoidance or fear is not due to any other form of the psychological effect of a substance or any form of mental problem that the patient has.


Social phobia is common as well as immobilizing, and persistent disorder with various ways to overcome it. It is evident that the most efficient way to overcome phobia is actually to do the things that one is afraid of saying if its height then the best way to overcome the phobia is by actually going a notch higher (Padesky et al., 2017). This common sense approach can achieve a lot even complete cure.

Behavioral therapy is one of the most efficient approaches of solving the phobia problem, it uses the common sense approach, and in the recent past, it appeared that the many phobias might as well be treatable through self-help programs (Padesky et al., 2017).

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, found to be helpful in the treatment of social phobia, have solved depressive and anxiety disorders, also the mental, behavioral therapy tends to assist some patients (Pilling et al., 2013).

Specific phobia

Specific phobia did not feature in many studies presumably since they are ancillary to more exposed and hazardous anxiety disorders. Specific phobia stimuli are easily avoidable (Chapman, Kertz, Zurlage & Borden .2008). Therefore; individuals do not end up seeking medical attention promptly as the other anxiety disorders.

Specific phobia has four subtypes at its least in this group; all the other phobias apart from the agoraphobia and social phobia classified as specific phobias (Sharma, 2016).

These subtypes are animal-insect phobia, blood-injury phobia, situational phobia and finally the choking- vomit phobia. Significantly from findings we see how these simple phobias are affiliated to a particular sex than another for instance from a research in (Chapman, Kertz, Zurlage & Borden .2008) it was found that all the animal phobias as well as the insect phobias were female phobias. Seven of eight of the chocking phobias as well as the vomit phobias found to be female phobias. The other classification of the subtype that is the situational phobia and the blood- injury phobia found to be equal for both the male and the female alike.

From the perspective of the age of on-set, the study in (Cristea, Kok, & Cuijpers, 2015) showed that the situational phobia came much later at an older age this in comparison to the blood-injury phobia as well as the animal- insect phobia. The vomit-choking phobia from the study was view to be intermediate. In addition to these another perspective of the subtype was found out from the research in that of the four subtype, the situational phobia frequency differed among relatives significantly with the highest being found to be the situational probands (Cristea, Kok, & Cuijpers, 2015). Therefore, from these epidemiological and clinical variables we have a basis of separation of the phobias that are simple or specific phobias into four (at least) diagnostic groups.


Whenever a simple phobia subtype potential stimuli are recognized, then treatment of the phobia and selection of the treatment strategy and anticipated outcome is possible to foresee. Different therapeutic interventions may have different impacts on the individual and hence determining the duration of treatment to achieve satisfactory results (Cristea, Kok, & Cuijpers, 2015).


The three forms of phobias the agoraphobia, simple or specific phobia and the social phobias much as they affect individuals are possible to solve and manage easily either through controlled exposure to the stimuli, the common sense approach, through medication or simply understanding the sources of stimuli for the simple phobias.


Chapman L.K., Kertz S.J., Zurlage M.M., Borden W.J., (2008). A confirmatory factor analysis of specific phobia domains in African American and Caucasian American young adults. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 22, 763–771

Crozier M., Gillihan S.J., & Power M.B., (2011). Issues in Differential Diagnosis: Phobias and Phobic Conditions, p 7-19.

Cristea, I. A., Kok, R. N., & Cuijpers, P. (2015). Efficacy of cognitive bias modification interventions in anxiety and depression: meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(1), 7-16.

Stevens H.H. (2006). Agoraphobia. Practitioners Guide to Evidence-Based Psychotherapy, 6, 24-32

Sharma, S. K. (2016). Latest Trends in Internet Addiction Disorder: Concepts, Symptoms, Theories, Triggers and Coping Strategies. Health Psychology, 1, 135.

Pilling, S., Mayo-Wilson, E., Mavranezouli, I., Kew, K., Taylor, C., & Clark, D. M. (2013). Recognition, assessment and treatment of social anxiety disorder: summary of NICE guidance. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 346.

Padesky, C., Dudley, R., Harvey, A. G., Watkins, E. R., Mansell, W., & Shafran, R. (2017, March). Joy McGuire. In OCTC workshop programme 2016-17 (p. 61).

Wiederhold, B. K., & Bouchard, S. (2014). Panic disorder, agoraphobia, and driving phobia: lessons learned from efficacy studies. In Advances in virtual reality and anxiety disorders (pp. 163-185). Springer US.

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