Peculiar Phobias
Peculiar Phobias
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2005.10.05 00:00
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   Most of us have heard of phobias about darkness and heights. There are, however, hundreds of phobias that the average Ewha student may have never heard of. Let? find out about some of these phobias that are not as well known and take a look at treatments for them.

   Bathmophobia: fear of going up stairs or steep slopes. Similarly, there is a fear of walking up or falling down stairs called climacophobia. Like other kinds of specific phobias, fear of specific objects or situations, bathmophobia and climacophobia are created by the mind unconsciously and develop to protect someone from a trauma or scary memory linked to stairs or steep slopes in the past. Sufferers of bathmophobia avoid going up or down the stairs at all costs because they feel dizzy and uncomfortable when using them.

   Coulrophobia: fear of clowns. According to Macmillan dictionary, the term coulrophobia is a recent clinical designation coined during the 1990s, based on the Greek word "coulon" (limb), and it signifies fear of the one who goes on stilts: clowns.
One of the interesting theories as to why coulrophobia occurs is that clowns have excessively bright, heavy-painted faces and demonic colored hair, either of which might induce fear in people. Also, clowns look like they are hiding their identities and true emotions through heavy makeup. Therefore, people cannot discern whether the clown is happy or if it is actually about to bite somebody? face off. Moreover, many people fear clowns because of horrible fantasies about clowns, or bad memories of clowns in childhood.

   Xenophobia: irrational fear, dislike, or even hatred of strangers and people from other countries, or of anything that is strange or foreign. The term xenophobia is derived from the Greek "xeno," meaning "foreign" and "strange." Xenophobia is typically used to describe people's fear or dislike of meeting or even just passing by foreigners; however, it is often used to describe a form of racism. In science fiction, xenophobia means fear of extraterrestrial things.
Aside from the general types of treatments to be mentioned later, xenophobia cannot disappear unless people try to recognize the importance and value of cultural diversity, and break down preconceptions about race.

   Gerontophobia: fear of old people or growing old. Sometimes gerontophobia is confused with ageism, which is a prejudice or discrimination against old people; however, these two are quite different. Gerontophobia is less common than ageism and is a more pathological fear of aging and the aged. Most people have milder forms of prejudice against older persons; however, people who are gerontophobic have an irrational hatred in the sense of enmity or active hostility.

   Sitophobia: morbid aversion to food. It is also known as sitiophobia or cibophobia. It is widely known that most sufferers of sitophobia are young girls or women.
Sitophobia first began in 16th century Europe, according to Joan Jacobs Brumberg, who wrote a book titled, "Fasting Girls" - a book about anorexia. In those days, sitophobia was a little different from today's sitophobia. Nowadays, sitophobia is usually caused by the fantasy of being slim. However; in medieval Europe, refusal of food was considered to be a sign of a miracle or holiness, because people in those days believed that people who refused food and kept living were wholly saints.

   ◆ Treatments
   There are various kinds of therapy used in curing phobia. To relieve the fear and terror people experience, anxiolytics, antidepressants, and beta-blockers are used as medical therapy. However, among those various therapies, behavior therapy and cognitive therapy are known to be most effective to cure phobia.
   The goal of behavior therapy is to modify and make patients gain control over unwanted behavior when exposed to fears. Individuals learn to cope with difficult and horrible situations through controlled gradual exposure based in behavior therapy. Desensitization, i.e., intentional exposure to the phobia to reduce sensitivity, and biofeedback, i.e., concentrating on calming your body, are often used as behavioral therapy.
   Cognitive therapy helps patients get rid of unproductive and harmful thoughts. Through cognitive therapy, individuals examine  what makes them feel depressed or angry for no reason or provoking them into ill-chosen actions, and learn to separate realistic thoughts from unrealistic ones.
   Nowadays, therapists use a combination of behavior and cognitive therapy, called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). One of the benefits of CBT is that the patients learn recovery skills that are useful for a lifetime.
   Anti-anxiety medication can also assist in some cases, too. Since phobia can be cured primarily by overriding the initial panic, through getting used to it, CBT or behavior therapy is preferable to anti-anxiety medication in curing phobias.

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