How phobias are named

The word phobia is Greek, therefore any word that is connected to it should be Greek. To coin a new phobia name, it is proper to follow this rule. The rule has been broken many times in the past especially within the medical profession which is steeped in Latin and often, when forming a name for a phobia, they have dipped into what they know and have used a Latin suppletion affixed to the Greek stem to form their names. The language pundits frown on this but it has happened time and time again over the years and these words have become accepted. There are a number of these words used daily. Television is one such word, tele from Greek, meaning distant, and vision from Latin, meaning a seeing.

On The Phobia List, I only use names that appear in a reference book. Someday I may put together the list of names that I can't validate.

If you are interested in sending a phobia name to me, please send the reference for it. If it's one that you've created, let me know. And if it's just for fun, thanks. I can always use some fun.

Treatment for phobias

Simple or specific phobias have been quite effectively treated with behavior therapy (Marks, 1987). The behaviorists involved in classical conditioning techniques believe that the response of phobic fear is a reflex acquired to non-dangerous stimuli. The normal fear to a dangerous stimulus, such as a poisonous snake, has unfortunately been generalized over to non-poisonous ones as well. If the person were to be exposed to the non-dangerous stimulus time after time without any harm being experienced, the phobic response would gradually extinguish itself. Also, this assumes that the person does not also experience the dangerous stimulus during that same extended period of time. In other words, one would have to come across ONLY non-poisonous snakes for a prolonged period of time for such extinction to occur. This is not likely to occur naturally, so behavior therapy sets up phobic treatment involving exposure to the phobic stimulus in a safe and controlled setting. Foa and Kozak (1986) call this exposure treatment, so called because the patient is exposed to the phobic stimulus as part of the therapeutic process. One simple form of exposure treatment is that of flooding, where the person is immersed in the fear reflex until the fear itself fades away. Some phobic reactions are so strong that flooding must be done through one's imagining the phobic stimulus, rather than engaging the phobic stimulus itself.

Some patients cannot handle flooding in any form, so an alternative classical conditioning technique is used called counter-conditioning (Watson, 1924). In this form, one is trained to substitute a relaxation response for the fear response in the presence of the phobic stimulus. Relaxation is incompatible with feeling fearful or having anxiety, so it is said that the relaxation response counters the fear response. This counter-conditioning is most often used in a systematic way to very gradually introduce the feared stimulus in a step-by-step fashion known as systematic desensitization, first used by Joseph Wolpe (1958). This desensitization involves three steps:

  1. training the patient to physically relax
  2. establishing an anxiety hierarchy of the stimuli involved
  3. counter-conditioning relaxation as a response to each feared stimulus beginning first with the least anxiety-provoking stimulus and moving then to the next least anxiety-provoking stimulus until all of the items listed in the anxiety hierarchy have been dealt with successfully

Biofeedback instrumentation has often been used to ensure that the patient is truly well-relaxed before going the next higher item in the anxiety hierarchy. Several indexes have been used in this adjunctive approach, including pulse rate, respiration rate, and electrodermal responses.

Also, systematic desensitization can be paired with modeling, an application suggested by social learning theorists. In modeling, the patient observes others (the "models") in the presence of the phobic stimulus who are responding with relaxation rather than fear. In this way, the patient is encouraged to imitate the model(s) and thereby relieve their phobia. Combining live modeling with personal imitation is sometimes called participant modeling (Bernstein, 1997).

Rothbaum et. al. (1995) reports using a virtual-reality helmet being worn by the patient which then displays a phobic situation which is controlled and monitored by the therapist. The scene might be one of driving a car over a high bridge, while pulse rate is being monitored by the therapist. When the pulse rate gets too high, the scene is either shut down or frozen in frame to allow the therapist to counter-condition relaxation to replace the fear and anxiety response.

Systematic desensitization in a variety of forms has been commonly used to treat specific phobias and, in some cases, can be achieved in a single therapeutic session (Ost, 1989; Zinbarg & others, 1992).


Famous and not so famous

The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933.
One of the things which danger does to you after a time is -, well, to kill emotion. I don't think I shall ever feel anything again except fear. None of us can hate anymore - or love.
Graham Greene
The Confidential Agent (1939)
"What are fears but voices airy? Whispering harm where harm is not. And deluding the unwary Till the fatal bolt is shot!"
"What potions have I drunk of Siren tears, Distill'd from limbecks foul as hell within, Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears, Still losing when I saw myself to win!"
Shakespeare - Sonets
"Fear - jealousy - money - revenge - and protecting someone you love."
Frederick Knott
- Max Halliday, listing the five important motives for murder, Dial M for Murder (1952)
"Fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake."
Edgar Wallace
- The Clue of the Twisted Candle (1916)
- Tush! Tush! Fear little boys with bugs
Will - The Taming of the Shrew
Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is
German Proverb
"He either fears his fate too much, Or his deserts are small, That puts it not unto the touch To win or lose it all"
James Graham
Marquis of montrose
Am I afraid of high notes? Of course I am afraid. What sane man is not?
Luciano Pavarotti
Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark
Francis Bacon
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.
H. P. Lovecraft
In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.
Being frightened is an experience you can't buy.
Anthony Price
Sion Crossing
What we fear comes to pass more speedily than what we hope.
Pubilius Syrus - Moral Sayings
Solitude scares me. It makes me think about love, death and war.
Brigitte Bardot
Why are we scared to die? Do any of us remember being scared when we were born?
Trevor Kay
A good scare is worth more to a man than a good advice.
Edgar Watson Howe
Country Town Sayings (1911)
Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.
Lt. John B. Putnam Jr.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert, Dune
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
"I have almost forgot the taste of fears. The time has been my senses would have cool'd To hear a night shriek, and my fell of hair Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir As life were in't. I have supp'd full with horrors; Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts, Cannot once start me."
Will - Macbeth
"All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears--of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assembly Required."
Dave Barry

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