Many people wonder what phobias are and what are the most common phobias. Specific phobias are those where a person has an intense and irrational fear of a specific thing and are one of three classifications of phobias according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Approximately 7% to 12% of people are believed to meet diagnostic criteria for at least one specific phobia during their lifetimes. The types of specific phobias include animals (e.g., dogs, spiders), natural environment (e.g., water, thunderstorms, dark), blood/injection/injury (e.g., blood, medical procedures), situational (e.g., driving, tunnels, flying), and other (e.g., number 13, choking, clowns , beautiful women). Animal phobias and fear of heights are the most common of the various types of specific phobias.
While there are hundreds of possible specific phobias, below is a list of ten of the most common specific phobias:
Acrophobia is an intense fear of heights. This is one of the most common phobias. People with acrophobia can experience a panic attack in high places and become too agitated to get themselves down safely. Approximately 2–5% of the general population has acrophobia, with twice as many women affected as men. The term is from the Greek: ἄκρον, ákron, meaning “peak, summit, edge” and φόβος, phóbos, “fear”.
Ophidiophobia is an intense fear of snakes and is one of the most common animal phobias. If a person is scared of other reptiles, not just snakes, they may have herpetophobia. The word comes from the Greek words “ophis” (ὄφις), snake, and “phobia” (φοβία) meaning fear.
Arachnophobia is a phobia of spiders. These little eight-legged creatures can creep out even the toughest man. People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobes see a spider, they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia.
Claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed or confined spaces. Those with claustrophobia will avoid being in small offices, elevators, train compartments, etc. Claustrophobia is one of the most common phobias. If you experience claustrophobia, you may feel like you’re having a panic attack, although claustrophobia isn’t a panic disorder. For some people, claustrophobia may disappear on its own. Others may need therapy to manage and cope with their symptoms.
Trypanophobia is an intense fear of injections and hypodermic needles. Trypanophobia is commonly referred to as “needle phobia” or “injection phobia”. Individuals with this fear may faint while getting injections. Though specific to medical needles, this disorder is commonly referred to as “needle phobia” by the general public.
Musophobia is an intense fear of mice or rats. These fears are also sometimes known as suriphobia and murophobia. It is sometimes referred to as musophobia (from Greek μῦς “mouse”) or murophobia (a coinage from the taxonomic adjective “murine” for the family Muridae that encompasses mice and rats), or as suriphobia, from French souris, “mouse”. The phobia, as an unreasonable and disproportionate fear, is distinct from reasonable concern about rats and mice contaminating food supplies, which may potentially be universal to all times, places, and cultures where stored grain attracts rodents, which then consume or contaminate the food supply.
Odontophobia or dental anxiety is an intense fear of receiving dental treatment. People with dental anxiety may completely avoid going to the dentist or only go once they have a serious problem. It is estimated that nearly seventy five percent of adults in the United States experience some amount of fear with regards to visiting a dentist. Of that percentage, about five to ten percent of those people have a strong enough fear to be considered sufferers of a dental phobia.
Cynophobia (from the Greek: κύων kýōn “dog” and φόβος phóbos “fear”) is a phobia of dogs. While many people love man’s best friend, dogs can also cause panic in a number of individuals. Although snakes and spiders are more common animal phobias, cynophobia is especially debilitating because of the high prevalence of dogs (for example, there are an estimated 25 million stray dogs in India, and an estimated 62 million pet dogs in the United States) and the general ignorance of dog owners to the phobia. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) reports that only 12% to 30% of those suffering from a specific phobia will seek treatment.
Mysophobia is an intense and irrational fear of contamination, dirt, and germs. People with mysophobia are sometimes referred to as germophobes or mysophobes. Mysophobia, also known as verminophobia, germophobia, germaphobia, bacillophobia and bacteriophobia, is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. The term was coined by William A. Hammond in 1879 when describing a case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited in repeatedly washing one’s hands. Mysophobia has long been related to compulsive hand washing.
Aerophobia is a fear of flying in airplanes. Many people with aerophobia also have claustrophobia.
Sources: American Psychological Association