Types of PhobiasSpecific Phobias
Djuna was psyched when she found out that she had landed a great summer job. She would be working at a law firm. The job was perfect for her because she wanted to be a lawyer someday. When Djuna showed up for her first day she was really excited, until she found out where her desk was.
The office manager, whose office was on the first floor, had interviewed Djuna. Djuna had just assumed that she would work nearby, but the woman instead told her to go to the tenth floor. That meant she would have to take the elevator. Djuna was terrified of elevators. She hated being in such a small, tight space. What if the elevator got stuck? She would suffocate. Just stepping inside the doors filled her with panic. She couldn't catch her breath in such a tiny area.
Djuna tried to get on the elevator, but she just couldn't make herself do it. Every time the doors opened, she felt as if she was going to faint. She was too embarrassed to ask where the stairs were. People would think she was crazy to walk all the way up to the tenth floor.
Finally, Djuna found the office manager. She said she was really sorry, but she had changed her mind. She did not want the job after all.
Specific phobias are often called simple phobias. A specific phobia is just that: a fear of a specific object or situation. Some common specific phobias are fears of flying, driving on the highway, escalators, elevators, dogs, and blood. One in ten people suffer from a specific phobia. The phobia usually appears during the teen years or in early adulthood. Girls and women are slightly more prone to phobias than boys and men are.
Specific phobias are not the same as the irrational fears many young children experience. Lots of children fear a monster lurking under their bed or in their closet. Many children do not like dogs or are afraid to swim. However, these fears usually disappear as the children grow up. You will find few adults who think there is a monster lying under the bed waiting to devour them. Specific phobias, however, rarely disappear. Only about 20 percent of specific phobias in adults go away on their own.
A person with a specific phobia feels intense, irrational fear. She may feel this way even when she is not in the presence of the phobic object. For example, someone who is terrified to fly does not have to be in flight on an airplane to feel afraid. Simply being in an airport or even just thinking about being on a plane can trigger terror. As a result, she will probably refuse to fly, although it will limit her lifestyle. She may miss out on things like vacations and visits with family and friends. A phobic person feels powerless in the face of her fear. The knowledge that the fear is irrational and excessive only makes the phobia more frustrating.