Some individuals have unusual phobias

There seems to be no limit to the objects that can be the subjects of phobias. Phobias exist when individuals feel great fear or disgust when exposed to some particular type of object. They avoid the object at all costs.

I have treated clients for phobias involving frogs and leeches, spiders and snakes. I have treated other clients for phobias of horses and of closed spaces.

My client with the most exotic phobia feared fruit. I did well with a client who had a phobia of the sounds others make while eating.

Prior to starting treatment of a client for leech phobia, I had to overcome my own dislike of leeches. I calmed down as I read that they generally cause no harm and drop off peacefully.

Prior to treating a client for eating-sound phobia, I listened to recorded eating sounds. There are zillions of such recordings on the Internet because some people like listening to the sounds. I found some disgusting at first, but I quickly habituated to them.

For the most part, the treatments have gone well. I did have a frog escape once during a session. It is not easy to capture a frog hopping toward freedom.

The leech I put on my foot died before taking any of my blood. I don’t know what its problem was.

I have never treated anyone for multi-hole phobia. In that, a person fears and avoids anything that looks as if it has many holes in it. Picture a honeycomb.

Some of my students have treated individuals for foot phobia. The fear is that someone will touch your feet.

Phobias sometimes overlap with aspects of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Extreme fear of germs is usually part of OCD. A specific concern about becoming contaminated is the tipoff. Also, the OCD fear often results in extreme cleaning – scrubbing skin with soap for hours or using bleach to clean oneself.

How do people develop a phobia? They may have a genetic predisposition to become fearful. Then they observe models of fearing a certain type of object. The model might be a parent. They might have a frightening experience that starts a phobia, such as having a spider drop on them or getting injured in an auto accident.

Phobias are relatively easy to treat. A few hours of carefully planned gradual exposure usually works.

What phobia have you had? Did you shake it?  

[Photo by Miranda Fritz on Unsplash]


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