The 10 most common phobias: Part II

The most common phobia is arachnophobia, the fear of spiders.

Arachnophobia (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Phobias are likely to cause difficulties in the lives of the sufferer. For instance, while most people may get the jitters if a spider crawls up their leg, people suffering from arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, are physically and/or psychologically disabled by the fear of spiders.
Experts estimate that there are about 500 phobias worldwide. Below is a list of the 10 most common phobias as compiled from the site
10. Trypanphobia – the fear of needles As much as 10 percent of people suffer from trypanphobia, which is a fear of needles and injections. The fear can be so intense that the individual avoids getting injections at all costs. Medical researchers have found that 20% of trypanphobics avoid medical treatment.
9. Aerophobia – the fear of flying Aerophobia affects nearly 6.5% of the world’s population. The phobia is usually associated with other fears, including agoraphobia (fear of open or crowed spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small and restricted spaces). Naturally, the fear affects one’s professional and personal life, since it makes air travel is nearly impossible. The mere thought of an upcoming flight can cause intense distress in the sufferer, including physical ailments such as nausea and panic attacks.
8. Mysophobia – the fear of germs Mysophobia refers to an unhealthy fear of contamination. It is normal and prudent to be concerned about issues such as cross-contamination of foods, exposure to the bodily fluids of others and maintaining good hygiene. However, for the mysophobic individual, these normal concerns become overblown. In the 1997 movie As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson portrays Melvin Udall, a successful author who lives the life of a recluse. He wears gloves all the time, wipes off door handles, eats at the same restaurant every day, sits at the same table, insists on the same waitress, Carol, and always orders the same meal. Melvin also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the two conditions do not always coexist.
7. Claustrophobia – the fear of small spaces or restricted spaces This phobia is related to the fear of suffocation or the fear of restriction. In my last article, you may remember the story about the claustrophobic man who was trapped in a crowded elevator. Nearly 2% to 7% of the world’s population suffer from claustrophobia.
6. Brontophobia – the fear of thunder and lightning Brontophobia is especially common in children; however, it can affect people of any age. Storms are a common occurrence in many parts of the world and, for the brontophobic individual, can be debilitating. The majority of sufferers are children, although the phobia can persist into adulthood as well. Even the most ferocious and wild animals have an extreme fear of thunder and lightning, and hiding is the natural psychological defense for them. Brontophobia affects nearly 2% of people around the world. It is a highly treatable phobia with many treatment options.
5. Cynophobia – the fear of dogs and/or cats Cynophobia is one of the most common animal phobias around the world. Nearly 36% of sufferers seek treatment for cynophobia, and the majority suffer from fear of cats. Nearly 75% of cynophobes are women, though the fear also affects men. The condition usually begins in childhood, but some people develop the phobia in adulthood.
4. Agoraphobia – the fear of open or crowded spaces Nearly two out of every 100 Americans suffer from agoraphobia, the fear of open or crowded spaces. This debilitating condition prevents the phobic from visiting malls, markets, theaters and other crowded areas as well as open grounds. Many of these individuals prefer to stay at home. The individual feels intense panic at the mere thought or sight of such a space, which he feels will be difficult to escape from. Israelis include higher numbers of people suffering from agoraphobia, especially associated with increases in the rate of terrorist attacks. In these instances, the condition is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
3. Acrophobia – the fear of heights Acrophobia is an irrational fear of heights or the fear of falling (even when one is not at a very high place). It is a specific phobia that causes sufferers to be very frightened of high places. Many acrophobics have trouble climbing down high places as well as climbing up.
2. Ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes The fear of snakes or ophidiophobia is the second most common phobia on this list, affecting nearly one third of the adult human population. The fear of venomous snakes is also essential for survival. Extreme ophidiophobia can affect one’s life, as one would likely avoid hiking, camping and related activities.
1. Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders Arachnophobia, the excessive fear of spiders or other arachnids such as scorpions, is one of the most common living-creature phobias around the world. In the United States as well as in Israel, nearly 30.5% of the population suffer from arachnophobia.
Some experts think that the fear of spiders may be a cultural or family trait. For instance, many people in Africa are known to fear large spiders, whereas in South Africa people are known to eat spiders and do not fear them.
Arachnophobes tend to go to extreme lengths to ensure that their surroundings are free from spiders, often causing themselves a great deal of embarrassment, something most phobia sufferers try to avoid.
The final installment of the series will deal with treatment for sufferers of phobias. It will appear in the December 4 issue.
The writer is a marital, child and adult psychotherapist, with offices in Jerusalem and Ra’anana. He also provides online videoconferencing psychotherapy.,