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What do we fear? [infographic]

What is a phobia?

Our common fears are given scientific names called phobias. For example, most people have heard of arachnophobia, the common fear of spiders, or claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces. Phobias vary greatly in severity. Some people may feel mild anxiety over a fear, while others suffer panic attacks with disabling symptoms. In children, symptoms may include crying, tantrums, freezing or clinging.

Many phobias are treatable with help from a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health counselor. If you would like to train for any of these careers, we can help you find psychology degrees at accredited psychology colleges.

What are the different types of phobias?

Phobias are anxiety disorders that can be classified into 3 major groups:

1. Social phobias (fears involving other people such as fear of speaking in public or eating in public)

2. Specific phobias (fears with a specific object or situational trigger such as fear spiders, snakes, water, heights or flying)

3. Agoraphobia (a general fear of leaving home or a ‘safe’ area)

How many people are affected by phobias?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.7% of American adults have a social phobia, 4.4% suffer from a specific phobia and 2.2% suffer from agoraphobia. The numbers in the graphic above reflect higher numbers from other studies that may be more generous in estimating the number of people who have a phobia, but have not been diagnosed.

Here are a few lesser known phobias you may not have known existed. These are all real, but remember – phobias are not always rational fears.

Ablutophobia – Fear of bathing
Barophobia – Fear of gravity
Caligynephobia – Fear of beautiful women
Chaetophobia – Fear of hair
Genuphobia – Fear of knees
Osmophobia – Fear of odors
Pupaphobia – Fear of puppets
Somniphobia – Fear of sleep

And for those of you thinking about going back to college, here’s a list of a few phobias you might have to overcome to get there:

Arithmophobia – Fear of numbers
Bibliophobia- Fear of books
Cathisophobia- Fear of sitting
Didaskaleinophobia – Fear of going to school
Epistemophobia – Fear of knowledge
Sophophobia – Fear of learning
Technophobia – Fear of technology
Testophobia – Fear of taking tests
Verbophobia – Fear of words

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What do we fear? [infographic]

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  1. Ronald Bjarnason Oct 20, 2011 at 3:58 am

    “Didaskaleinophobia – Fear of going to school”  Seriously, where was this word when I was in high school?  I could have used it.

  2. Kristin Jolley Oct 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    5x, people! 5x!  It’s a statistic… I will now be afraid of spiders guilt-free.

  3. Carlson1216 Oct 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Arachnophobia and ophidiophobia

  4. Mike Metcalf Oct 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I will forever be plagued by my Alektorophobia, the fear of chickens.

    • Joseph LeBaron Oct 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      And unfortunately, all of us here at work will be plagued by your Vestiphobia, or fear of clothing.

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