Whether you have a friend with cynophobia or a fear of dogs or a partner with a fear of closely packed holes or trypophobia, everyone has fears and phobias. While some are more severe than others, phobias can impact your day-to-day life.
Where Do Phobias Come From?
Where a phobia stems from isn’t as clear as simply having a bad experience. For example, someone who is afraid of dogs may never have had one bad interaction with a dog. This means there’s a larger influence from other factors, such as life experiences. Typically, the strongest predictor of a fear or phobia is individual experiences.
However, where does that leave someone who has never been bitten by a dog but has cynophobia? The classic nature vs. nurture debate doesn’t seem to explain the whole story. For example, you may know someone who has been bitten by a dog as a child but still loves them and has no phobia or fear. There’s a tendency of developing fears and phobias after experiencing a scary event that tends to be partially based on genes.
How Is Fear Different From a Phobia?
Fears and phobias sound similar but have varying effects on our daily lives. Fear can be our ally to help keep us safe from dangerous situations. In contrast, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that involves a constant, irrational fear that logic and reason can’t explain.
Let’s say you have another friend who is afraid of dogs because they were bitten as a child. That would be a regular fear response. This same friend may walk by a dog park and feel afraid — their heart starts to race or they walk more quickly, but they’ll still walk by it and maybe even wave to someone while they are with their dog.
If your friend actually had a phobia of dogs, they would react in a more extreme way. For example, they may walk by a dog on the street and scream, cry or run away. The same response is true of phobias that include a fear of clowns, a fear of small spaces and more.
Are Phobias Learned?
Sometimes, phobias don’t form because of a genetic predisposition or harrowing childhood experience. Sometimes, our phobias are learned, such as from our parents. Maybe your friend who is afraid of dogs didn’t have a bad experience with dogs but grew up watching their mom avoid dogs because she had been bitten as a child. They may unconsciously pick up her phobia as their own.
Taylor Counseling Group Can Help You Overcome Your Fears and Phobias
It’s important to know the source of our fears and phobias, and the expert counselors at Taylor Counseling Group can help you understand more about what you’re afraid of and how to overcome it. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.