Phobias are intense, irrational fears caused by non-dangerous stimuli. Examples of common phobias include arachnophobia (fear of spiders), social phobia (fear of social situations), and acrophobia (fear of heights). There are even phobias of long words and left-handed people.
But what you may not have known is that some people have a fear of phobias. It's known as phobophobia, and in some ways, it's more common than you may think.
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How Phobophobia Works
Experts are somewhat mixed on whether or not phobophobia is common. The truth is that it seems to affect those that already have fears or phobias, which may imply that it's not a phobia itself, but rather a symptom of the phobia. Make sure you've taken my anxiety test yet if you haven't already.
But the idea behind phobophobia is that there are those that are either:
- Intensely afraid of phobia/anxiety symptoms, or
- Intensely afraid of developing a phobia.
Many people experience the former. Those with panic attacks or severe anxiety are very prone to experiencing "fear of fear," where they become very fearful about experiencing another attack of anxiety – especially anxiety with severe physical symptoms.
The symptoms of anxiety can be so severe that they cause immense distress, and in some cases make the person either feel like they're having a heart attack or feel like something is seriously wrong with their health. Many just develop a fear because it's so difficult to deal with anxiety symptoms.
For those with phobias, this may be considered its own symptom of the phobia. But if you experience anxiety so strong over the idea of encountering your phobia, your psychologist may want to consider it a separate disorder.
Getting a Fear of Having a New Phobia
Of course, much rarer would be a fear of developing a phobia. This is likely more common in those with many phobias that seem to develop them quickly. They may start to believe or fear that they are destined for another phobia, thus causing them intense anxiety. This is of course much less common. You Can Fear Anything
Phobias are often not something a person can control, and no matter how irrational a fear may be, it's usually difficult for someone's willpower to overcome it. Those with phobias often know they're irrational, but can't control the fear. But the good news is that nearly all phobias can be cured, so you do not have to live with these symptoms forever.
I've helped thousands of people overcome their anxiety and phobias starting with my free 7-minute anxiety test. Take the test now to learn more about your own anxiety and what you can do to cure it.
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Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Nov 22, 2017.