How Do People Get Phobias? Or Why Do We Get Them?

  • Monroe;

    Monroe; (615)

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    I think certain phobias can be picked up through observation. I watched my mother flee for fear of spiders and then I picked up his irrational fear of them, out of no where. It was all imitation for me.
    September 1st, 2011 at 03:20pm
  • Kaneee

    Kaneee (100)

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    Some people have phobias because of a deeply seeded fear of something they know they shouldn't be afraid of and therefore cant explain or rationalise, examples of these are baked beans, pigeons and door knobs. The key to phobias is memory, every phobia comes from a bad memory relating to the specific phobia although mostly these occur early in life and are therefore forgotten.
    October 11th, 2011 at 08:17pm
  • Antagonist

    Antagonist (200)

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    I know mine come from things that have happened or people around me.

    My mom was terrified of spiders and never let me around them as a kid and now they scare me, I almost drowned once so I hate water, I watched my grandfather die in hospitals hence my fear of hospitals AND dead people.
    October 12th, 2011 at 11:18am
  • wxyz

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    Association is a big part of it. I forget the name of the psychologist who did this experiment, but it essentially involved a child who was placed in a room with a white rat, and every time he interacted with the rat, the experimenter made a loud, off-putting noise. After that, the child had an aversion, not just to rats, but to white, furry things.

    It works similarly with food. One day I had one of those Innocent Smoothies, grapefruit and kiwi or something. That night I was horribly sick. Now, the sickness probably didn't have anything to do with the smoothie I'd had earlier that day, but ever since then I've felt instantly sick whenever I've so much as laid eyes on an Innocent Smoothie. XD
    October 13th, 2011 at 05:13pm
  • thelastpainter

    thelastpainter (110)

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    Alex; oxytocin.:
    Association is a big part of it. I forget the name of the psychologist who did this experiment, but it essentially involved a child who was placed in a room with a white rat, and every time he interacted with the rat, the experimenter made a loud, off-putting noise. After that, the child had an aversion, not just to rats, but to white, furry things.

    It works similarly with food. One day I had one of those Innocent Smoothies, grapefruit and kiwi or something. That night I was horribly sick. Now, the sickness probably didn't have anything to do with the smoothie I'd had earlier that day, but ever since then I've felt instantly sick whenever I've so much as laid eyes on an Innocent Smoothie. XD
    The experiment that you're referring to is the "Little Albert" experiment. Our teacher just taught us about it in our Psychology class.

    All phobias are is the result of an unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response and/or conditioned stimulus and conditioned response.

    Let's say a little child sees someone get stung by many bees. They know that the bee sting causes pain and now whenever they see a bee, they are afraid that they will get stung and be caused pain. Thus they are afraid of bees.

    Like with the Little Albert experiment, they showed him white furry things. At first he was neutral to them and kind of liked them, but then the two psychologists made a loud banging noise whenever he was around the rabbit and such. It caused him to be afraid of anything white and furry, even without the loud noise.

    People can be unconditioned to not be afraid of the things they are afraid of, though. Unfortunately for Little Albert, that was unable to be done because the child died at the age of six.

    But, in reality, for the thing you said...The smoothie did play some part in it, but in a less direct way. It probably wasn't necessarily the result of your sickness, but your brain kind of "put two and two together" and associated the smoothie with the sickness.

    (I hope I made sense XD I'm terrible at explaining things) But that's what most phobias/fears are a result of, even if we don't realize it. Most things we were probably too young to remember, thus we think there's no reason.
    October 15th, 2011 at 09:46pm
  • wxyz

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    ^ That's the one! XD Yeah, exactly.
    October 15th, 2011 at 10:41pm
  • Angry Nomad

    Angry Nomad (100)

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    Ugh, I don't know but whenever I see a clutter of circles, I need to just *bleagghhhh*.
    October 15th, 2011 at 11:10pm
  • Angry Nomad

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    Alex; oxytocin.:
    Association is a big part of it. I forget the name of the psychologist who did this experiment, but it essentially involved a child who was placed in a room with a white rat, and every time he interacted with the rat, the experimenter made a loud, off-putting noise. After that, the child had an aversion, not just to rats, but to white, furry things.
    Poor child. LOL
    October 15th, 2011 at 11:17pm
  • barely legal

    barely legal (100)

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    I most probably got my fear of spiders from my mother. Every time there was ever a spider, she would get my dad to 'deal' with it. I learnt to associate them with fear. For instance, she used to play the animal noise game with me: "What does a cow do?" etc. However, she taught me to respond to, "What does a spider do?" by saying, "Eeeeek!" and shivering as though they were crawling on me.

    ... Gee, thanks Mum. File
    November 12th, 2011 at 05:36pm
  • LostinTime

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    I'm not sure.They could be picked up from other people, like you see someone is afraid of something so you think you should have a fear from it. Or it could be that something traumatic happened with that particular thing you afraid of.
    December 29th, 2011 at 12:30am
  • Bob de Ninja

    Bob de Ninja (100)

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    All humans are born with a few basic fears; spiders, the dark, being left alone and snakes (probably a few more too.) You can see this as babies shun away from snakes and spiders, also when Eskimos were first introduced to snakes they were wary of them without having any previous knowledge. Most people grow out of these fears but some develop them (maybe from a bad experience) into phobias. That's just what I remember reading in a book so it might not be 100% accurate. I personally have arachnophobia, spiders just creep me out Sad
    November 22nd, 2012 at 06:46pm
  • glitterbomb.

    glitterbomb. (100)

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    Well, I have Aichmophobia with is fear of needles or pointed objects, Amaxophobia witch is fear of riding in a car, and, strangely Enissophobia, fear of committing a sin or a deed of witch you might get critism. I could tell you back stories of each of them exept for Enissophobia, but that would bore you. All I could say is that I realized most phobias are from or could relate to you having a traumatic event with that object/person. But fears aren't really phobias. For example, someone may not like the French culture but that doesn't make them a Francophobic. Good luck sorting out your fears, really.
    November 26th, 2012 at 07:23pm
  • angus young

    angus young (355)

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    Bob de Ninja:
    All humans are born with a few basic fears; spiders, the dark, being left alone and snakes (probably a few more too.) You can see this as babies shun away from snakes and spiders, also when Eskimos were first introduced to snakes they were wary of them without having any previous knowledge. Most people grow out of these fears but some develop them (maybe from a bad experience) into phobias. That's just what I remember reading in a book so it might not be 100% accurate. I personally have arachnophobia, spiders just creep me out Sad
    I'd disagree with being born with a fear of spiders and snakes, but as an arachophobe I know how much it sucks. Arms Being left alone and being afraid of the dark seem quite rational in all honesty, especially in young children, since they often go through a stage of separation anxiety or don't understand that their mother or father is only gone temporarily.

    Also not all babies shun away from snakes and spiders. I know a guy whose first word was 'spider' and liked them even as a baby. Weird He's into photography now and takes a lot of close-ups of webs and the spiders and such.

    I think I developed my arachnophobia after watching a film called Eight Legged Freaks, which is one of the earliest memories I can remember. I also used to be terrified of Pennywise the Clown for many years, but I grew out of that. That fear has now placed itself onto Slender Man, so thanks a lot to the game Slender which is the worst ever.
    tehe
    May 6th, 2013 at 05:35am
  • amybh33

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    @ Jewel Nicole
    In my opinion, when it comes to fears, some are learned and some are hereditary. The fear of public speaking is PROBABLY hereditary though not neccessarily. How do others in your family feel about that? The spider thing, what is your earlist memory? My husband can remember things from when he was as young as three or four, yet I can't remember much before I was 12. Who knows what happened to me before then? I'm sure my subconcious does. You know, that place where fears are formed.
    May 6th, 2013 at 10:39pm
  • amybh33

    amybh33 (100)

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    @ Bob de NinjaIt's not fear that makes a child move away from something they are not familiar with it's lack of knowledge about that specific thing, caution. I have had four kids. One of them is overly cautious and as you say "shunned" anything that she was not familiar with. However another one would never think of walking away from a challenge or gaining knowledge. She actually attempted to eat bugs when she was small.
    May 6th, 2013 at 10:57pm
  • amybh33

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    @ barely legal
    I have to admit that this is the response I most agree with. We are all born as we are but other things can be learned. Developing minds can be imprinted by what they are exposed to.
    @ barely legal
    May 6th, 2013 at 11:08pm
  • psychotic secrets;

    psychotic secrets; (1400)

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    I believe I got my phobia from an traumatic experience. Though some fears had actually been turned into an severe anxiety disorder. I got my phobia, the fear of balloons, because one popped in my face as a child. It's not the noise, or anything blown up, but rubber balloons themselves. Deflated or not. I'm so afraid of it that I have an anxiety attack and blackout. I know it's stupid but because what happened to me when I was little, I cannot get over those things. The smell of rubber gets my anxiety going sometimes, but that's because of my disorder.

    So it has to be traumatic experience for some individuals that makes the fear into a phobia. Like I'm scared of many things, because of my disorder, but I only have one true phobia. Last year I was stuck in my house for a whole day because there was a balloon on my porch. I'm almost twenty and balloons can make me piss myself. Even the name gets my heart starting to pace.
    May 7th, 2013 at 07:00am
  • hazuki.

    hazuki. (175)

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    I think the existence hereditary/genetic/innate fears is sort of bullshit.

    People develop fear through Pavlovian conditioning/traumatic experiences, which are the same thing J. Watson showed with his experiments with little Albert. Or they learn to fear something seeing their parents/other people showing fear reactions towards something and "know" this is something to be feared.

    Period.
    May 7th, 2013 at 09:24pm
  • rosewater tide.

    rosewater tide. (130)

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    I'm terrified of pregnant people. I couldn't begin to tell anyone why because I just am.
    If any of my friends ever got pregnant I could not deal. I can't even deal with pregnant customers.
    May 14th, 2013 at 04:44am
  • peter quill.

    peter quill. (4975)

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    I don't think I believe any fears/phobias are innate at all.

    I'm terrified of both slugs and snails to the point where I have very severe anxiety attacks if I come across them. It's odd though, because as a child I played with snails. Our house, and especially the house next door, get tonnes of them in the garden when it rains and me and my older sister would spend hours just... playing with snails. Everyone can remember that, but for some reason when I hit eight or nine I just... became really scared of them?

    Nobody can remember anything traumatic occurring with me and a slug/snail at that point. My sister had an incident where there was a slug on her shoe, she kicked the shoe off and then stepped on the slug, but I wasn't present when that happened (it happened one night at about 9/10ish when I was tucked up in bed) and wasn't told about it until quite recently. I can recall times after that which were horrible experiences, but those all happened after I was 13 (and I can't be wrong about the ages because photographs exist of those days, and the people who witnessed them didn't meet me until I was 13). I'm convinced something happened, I just have no idea what it was and neither does anyone else who knows me well.

    I don't believe I was born with any fears/phobias. I've never been scared of snakes, nor have I been scared of spiders or any of the other supposed innate fears. The only other things I'm truly scared of are people (and there were incidents there which have led to me having severe social phobia for the majority of my life) and the ocean, and that comes down to being creeped out by numerous real and fictional sea creatures. I'm also skeptical of the idea that we pick phobias up from other people. My mother is scared of snakes, my father is scared of spiders. As I said I'm scared of neither, though the way my parents act around them, you'd think I would have picked either/both those phobias up if we did copy them from other people. The same goes for both my sisters in that respect.
    May 14th, 2013 at 02:44pm