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Medical Definition of Phobia

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❶Other Psychology Terms fetish , hypochondria , intelligence , mania , narcissism , neurosis , pathological , psychosis , schadenfreude , subliminal.

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A phobia is fear from something- an object, a person or a situation, that makes the person feel scared to face that certain situation, and even try and avoid it- for example- some people are scared of closed places "agoraphobia" - they cannot sit at the cinema or at an elevator because of the fear of not being able to escape if needed.

Some people have a social phobia and they cannot face a crowd, or perform in front of a crowd some can't even speak out loud in front of other people. Yes, it may be considered a phobia, or more specifically situational type phobia. However, the important thing is whether is this fear reasonable?

Do you think it's out of proportion? Phobia is a fear that one perceive as irrational and out of proportion and yet one feels and is affected adversely by it. If this fear is appropriate e. You may read more about it http: Phobias definition of phobias by Medical dictionary https: Just about everyone is afraid of something—an upcoming job interview or being alone outside after dark.

They are not "crazy"—they know full well their fears are unreasonable-but they can not control the fear. These people have phobias. Phobias belong to a large group of mental problems known as anxiety disorders that include obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD , panic disorder , and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Phobias themselves can be divided into three specific types:. As its name suggests, a specific phobia is the fear of a particular situation or object, including anything from airplane travel to dentists. Found in one out of every 10 Americans, specific phobias seem to run in families and are roughly twice as likely to appear in women.

If the person rarely encounters the feared object, the phobia does not cause much harm. However, if the feared object or situation is common, it can seriously disrupt everyday life. Common examples of specific phobias, which can begin at any age, include fear of snakes, flying, dogs, escalators, elevators, high places, or open spaces. People with social phobia have deep fears of being watched or judged by others and being embarrassed in public.

This may extend to a general fear of social situations—or be more specific or circumscribed, such as a fear of giving speeches or of performing stage fright. More rarely, people with social phobia may have trouble using a public restroom, eating in a restaurant, or signing their name in front of others.

Social phobia is not the same as shyness. Shy people may feel uncomfortable with others, but they don't experience severe anxiety , they don't worry excessively about social situations beforehand, and they don't avoid events that make them feel self-conscious. On the other hand, people with social phobia may not be shy-they may feel perfectly comfortable with people except in specific situations. Social phobias may be only mildly irritating, or they may significantly interfere with daily life.

It is not unusual for people with social phobia to turn down job offers or avoid relationships because of their fears. Agoraphobia is the intense fear of feeling trapped and having a panic attack in a public place.

An episode of spontaneous panic is usually the initial trigger for the development of agoraphobia. After an initial panic attack, the person becomes afraid of experiencing a second one.

Patients literally "fear the fear," and worry incessantly about when and where the next attack may occur. As they begin to avoid the places or situations in which the panic attack occurred, their fear generalizes. Eventually the person completely avoids public places. In severe cases, people with agoraphobia can no longer leave their homes for fear of experiencing a panic attack.

Experts don't really know why phobias develop, although research suggests the tendency to develop phobias may be a complex interaction between heredity and environment. Some hypersensitive people have unique chemical reactions in the brain that cause them to respond much more strongly to stress.

These people also may be especially sensitive to caffeine , which triggers certain brain chemical responses. Advances in neuroimaging have also led researchers to identify certain parts of the brain and specific neural pathways that are associated with phobias. One part of the brain that is currently being studied is the amygdala, an almond-shaped body of nerve cells involved in normal fear conditioning.

Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their panic reaction. These individuals often report dizziness, loss of bladder or bowel control, tachypnea , feelings of pain, and shortness of breath.

A specific phobia is a marked and persistent fear of an object or situation. Specific phobias may also include fear of with losing control, panicking, and fainting from an encounter with the phobia. The DSM breaks specific phobias into five subtypes: Additionally, specific phobias are most prevalent in children between ages 10 and Unlike specific phobias, social phobias include fear of public situations and scrutiny, which leads to embarrassment or humiliation in the diagnostic criteria.

Rachman proposed three pathways to acquiring fear conditioning: Much of the progress in understanding the acquisition of fear responses in phobias can be attributed to classical conditioning Pavlovian model. The UCS originates from an aversive or traumatizing event in the person's life, such as almost falling down from a great height. The original fear of almost falling down is associated with being on a high place, leading to a fear of heights. This direct conditioning model, though very influential in the theory of fear acquisition, is not the only way to acquire a phobia.

Vicarious fear acquisition is learning to fear something, not by a subject's own experience of fear, but by watching others reacting fearfully observational learning. For instance, when a child sees a parent reacting fearfully to an animal, the child can become afraid of the animal as well.

For instance, fearing electrical wire after having heard that touching it causes an electric shock. A conditioned fear response to an object or situation is not always a phobia. To meet the criteria for a phobia there must also be symptoms of impairment and avoidance. Impairment is defined as being unable to complete routine tasks whether occupational, academic or social. In acrophobia an impairment of occupation could result from not taking a job solely because of its location at the top floor of a building, or socially not participating in a social event at a theme park.

The avoidance aspect is defined as behavior that results in the omission of an aversive event that would otherwise occur, with the goal of preventing anxiety. Beneath the lateral fissure in the cerebral cortex , the insula, or insular cortex , of the brain has been identified as part of the limbic system , along with cingulated gyrus , hippocampus , corpus callosum and other nearby cortices.

This system has been found to play a role in emotion processing [20] and the insula, in particular, may contribute through its role in maintaining autonomic functions. In the frontal lobes, other cortices involved with phobia and fear are the anterior cingulate cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex. In the processing of emotional stimuli, studies on phobic reactions to facial expressions have indicated that these areas are involved in processing and responding to negative stimuli.

Stimulation of this area decreases conditioned fear responses, so its role may be in inhibiting the amygdala and its reaction to fearful stimuli. When dealing with fear, the hippocampus receives impulses from the amygdala that allow it to connect the fear with a certain sense, such as a smell or sound. It processes the events associated with fear and is linked to social phobia and other anxiety disorders. The amygdala's ability to respond to fearful stimuli occurs through the process of fear conditioning.

Similar to classical conditioning , the amygdala learns to associate a conditioned stimulus with a negative or avoidant stimulus, creating a conditioned fear response that is often seen in phobic individuals. In this way, the amygdala is responsible for not only recognizing certain stimuli or cues as dangerous but plays a role in the storage of threatening stimuli to memory. The basolateral nuclei or basolateral amygdala and the hippocampus interact with the amygdala in the storage of memory, which suggests why memories are often remembered more vividly if they have emotional significance.

In addition to memory, the amygdala also triggers the secretion of hormones that affect fear and aggression. When the fear or aggression response is initiated, the amygdala releases hormones into the body to put the human body into an "alert" state, which prepares the individual to move, run, fight, etc.

Inside the brain, however, this stress response can be observed in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis HPA. This circuit incorporates the process of receiving stimuli, interpreting it and releasing certain hormones into the bloodstream.

The parvocellular neurosecretory neurons of the hypothalamus release corticotropin-releasing hormone CRH , which is sent to the anterior pituitary. Here the pituitary releases adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH , which ultimately stimulates the release of cortisol. In relation to anxiety, the amygdala is responsible for activating this circuit, while the hippocampus is responsible for suppressing it.

Glucocorticoid receptors in the hippocampus monitor the amount of cortisol in the system and through negative feedback can tell the hypothalamus to stop releasing CRH. Studies on mice engineered to have high concentrations of CRH showed higher levels of anxiety, while those engineered to have no or low amounts of CRH receptors were less anxious.

In phobic patients, therefore, high amounts of cortisol may be present, or alternatively, there may be low levels of glucocorticoid receptors or even serotonin 5-HT.

For the areas in the brain involved in emotion—most specifically fear— the processing and response to emotional stimuli can be significantly altered when one of these regions becomes lesioned or damaged.

Damage to the cortical areas involved in the limbic system such as the cingulate cortex or frontal lobes have resulted in extreme changes in emotion. Specifically, the removal of these lobes results in decreased fear, confirming its role in fear recognition and response.

Bilateral damage to the medial temporal lobes, which is known as Urbach—Wiethe disease, exhibits similar symptoms of decreased fear and aggression, but also an inability to recognize emotional expressions, especially angry or fearful faces.

While lesions in the amygdala can inhibit its ability to recognize fearful stimuli, other areas such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the basolateral nuclei of the amygdala can affect the region's ability to not only become conditioned to fearful stimuli, but to eventually extinguish them.

The basolateral nuclei, through receiving stimulus info, undergo synaptic changes that allow the amygdala to develop a conditioned response to fearful stimuli. Lesions in this area, therefore, have been shown to disrupt the acquisition of learned responses to fear.

This suggests there is a pathway or circuit among the amygdala and nearby cortical areas that process emotional stimuli and influence emotional expression, all of which can be disrupted when an area becomes damaged.

It is recommended that the terms distress and impairment take into account the context of the person's environment during diagnosis. The DSM-IV-TR states that if a feared stimulus, whether it be an object or a social situation, is absent entirely in an environment, a diagnosis cannot be made. An example of this situation would be an individual who has a fear of mice but lives in an area devoid of mice.

Even though the concept of mice causes marked distress and impairment within the individual, because the individual does not usually encounter mice, no actual distress or impairment is ever experienced. It is recommended that proximity to, and ability to escape from, the stimulus also be considered.

As the phobic person approaches a feared stimulus, anxiety levels increase, and the degree to which the person perceives they might escape from the stimulus affects the intensity of fear in instances such as riding an elevator e. There are various methods used to treat phobias. These methods include systematic desensitization , progressive relaxation, virtual reality , modeling, medication and hypnotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT can be beneficial by allowing the patient to challenge dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs by being mindful of their own feelings, with the aim that the patient will realize that his or her fear is irrational.

CBT may be conducted in a group setting. Gradual desensitization treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort. CBT is also an effective treatment for phobias in children and adolescents, and has been adapted for use with this age. This treatment program can be used with children between the ages of 7 and 13 to treat social phobia. This program works to decrease negative thinking, increase problem solving and provide a functional coping outlook in the child.

This program has five stages: Psychoeducation focuses on identifying and understanding symptoms. Recent Examples of phobia from the Web His clients use virtual reality to overcome phobias , including a fear of heights, anxiety issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug, alcohol and smoking addictions.

Well, in all honesty, remember this is May of which is prior to Hillary raising Russo phobia. Suddenly the left care about minorities and children? Bodies in Question," 4 May Based on some studies, sporting and herding dogs are at higher risk of developing storm phobias. Cult'," 31 May Some of the challenges for businesses trying to develop pet-friendly policies are allergies, property damage and animal phobias , Yost said.

These 'employees' wag their tails," 21 June Origin and Etymology of phobia -phobia. Other Psychology Terms fetish , hypochondria , intelligence , mania , narcissism , neurosis , pathological , psychosis , schadenfreude , subliminal. Definition of phobia for English Language Learners. Definition of -phobia for English Language Learners.

Learn More about phobia See words that rhyme with phobia Spanish Central: Seen and Heard What made you want to look up phobia? Need even more definitions?


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simple phobia specific phobia. social phobia an anxiety disorder characterized by fear and avoidance of social or performance situations in which the individual fears possible embarrassment and humiliation, for example, fear of speaking, performing, or eating in public.

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phobia - an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations; "phobic disorder is a general term for all phobias" phobic disorder, phobic neurosis anxiety disorder - a cover term for a variety of mental disorders in which severe anxiety is a salient symptom.

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Phobia definition is - an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. How to use phobia in a sentence. an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. word-forming element meaning "excessive or irrational fear of," from Latin -phobia and directly from Greek -phobia "panic fear of," from phobos "fear" (see phobia). In widespread popular use with native words from c

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-phobia definition, a combining form meaning “fear,” occurring in loanwords from Greek (hydrophobia); on this model, used in the names of mental disorders that have the general sense “dread of, aversion toward” that specified by the initial element: agoraphobia. Phobia: An unreasonable sort of fear that can cause avoidance and panic. Phobias are a relatively common type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, using exposure and fear-reduction techniques.