anxiety and panic attacks, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (1). Many of these symptoms cause people to avoid contact with the outside world, thus thrusting them deeper into their fears.
The concept can be better understood through the example of a woman observed by researcher and psychiatrist Fraser Kent. This arachnophobic woman was so afraid of spiders that she would sweep, dust and vacuum twice a day to make sure spiders never settled in her home. She would clean, and then burn any bags coming from the grocery store to make sure that none entered the house from outside (2). This is an example of a person with OCD and a phobia. The obsessive-compulsive was birthed from her phobia. This greatly altered everyday life for her as she was fearful of leaving her house unless she knew her environment would be spider free. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case; there are many examples of the everyday lives of people worldwide that display the ...view middle of the document...
This is not the case for someone who has never experienced or witnessed a traumatic event with a dog and yet still displays extreme fear.
Early psychologists had many theories about the cause of phobias that have been debunked over the years. Many of them sound unrealistic or silly to people today, however one must keep in mind that psychoanalysis is a fairly new practice and that mental health has put on the back burner of society for hundreds of years. Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis and theorized that phobias are caused by displacement, a condition that occurs when an individual transfers fears of an earlier object or happening onto a more recent unrelated substitute. Freud applied his theory to all phobias and proposed that all fears represented displaced anxiety in parent-child relationships. Most psychiatrists disagree by pointing out that phobias can arise from many different stressful situations, not just those involving parents (1).
Another, more well excepted theory is that of conditioning. The first person to suggest this was John Watson, he believed that people are conditioned to feel fear. This would mean that they learn to associate certain objects and situations with similar things that have been scary or uncomfortable (1 76).
According to some other majority of doctors, people may display phobias that they have learned from others. For example a germophobic mother who is constantly washing the house and displaying uncomfortable behavior in public places, is most likely to have children develop the same phobia and OCD tendencies because they mimic the behavior of their mother (1 78).
Whatever the cause, phobias always have negative effects on the phobics. Much of the everyday lives of people are disrupted when they encounter a situation that causes them terror. For some people avoidance behavior is the easiest way to avoid a reaction. This means simply not pitting themselves in a situation that would cause them to be afraid. For a person with pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying), they might avoid riding on an airplane and choosing destinations that they could get to by car. For someone with ophiophobia (fear of snakes) moving to a region that does not have very many snakes would help them avoid having a reaction.