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The History, Causes And Effects, And Treatment Of Phobias

1810 words - 8 pages

The History, Causes and Effects, and Treatment of Phobias

Just imagine for a moment that you have a cynophobia or the fear of dogs, would this be how you would feel. Driving down the road the oil light comes on. "I must stop the car to add more oil or I will damage the car engine. This looks like a good place to pull over. I'll just stop in front of this house. The oil is in the trunk, so I'll pop the top first, then get the oil out of the trunk. OK, I have the oil, but what if there is a dog at this house. Hurry, I have to hurry. A dog might come running out and bark at me any minute. Just get the oil in the engine. I can't my hands are shaking. Don't worry, there is no ...view middle of the document...

C., and is known as the father of medicine. He recorded detailed descriptions of people with phobias. Over two thousand three-hundred years ago, he wrote of a man named Damocles who could not go near an overhang, or over a bridge, or even near a shallow body of water" (33). During the 1800s, people began to study how the mind works. Phobias were increasingly described in psychiatric studies and writings. For several decades, people wrote about and named many phobias. Many of those names are still used today. Judy Monroe states that "Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) contributed great work on understanding phobias in the late 1800s. He was one of the first people to describe the feelings of anxiety that occur with phobic reactions" (36). During the late 1970s, research on the brain and brain chemistry helped scientists better understand human behavior and emotions. Along with research on mental health, this research led to increased knowledge about phobias. Judy Monroe states that "the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted the first survey of mental health in the United States, the Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) survey. Researchers interviewed nearly twenty thousand people in five cities: Baltimore, Maryland; New Haven, Connecticut; St. Louis, Missouri; Durham, North Carolina; and Los Angeles, California. This survey uncovered a startling fact: Anxiety disorders, including all phobias, are the most common mental health problem in the United States" (37).
The second area to explore is the causes of phobias. There are several theories on the causes of phobias. The first is the psychological theory. Judy Monroe states "Some researchers say that phobias arise when people ignore unresolved problems and conflicts. If someone has a stressful home life, for example, and never gets any help, then that person's anxiety will grow. Over time, that anxiety can change into a phobia. The phobia is the way that person manages the fearful situation. It symbolized the real fear and allows the person to focus all fears onto one situation or thing" (70-71). The next theory is biological or chemical. Judy Monroe states "Other researchers say that certain people develop phobias because of their body chemistry. These people are more likely to be fearful, to have panic attacks, and to develop phobias. Some researchers have found low levels of chemical dopamine in the brains of phobics. In experiments with mice, those with low levels of dopamine react without much aggression. This theory seems to explain why some social phobics and agoraphobics have panic attacks" (73-74). Another theory is the learned theory. Judy Monroe states "some researchers say that people learn fear through direct experience. Specific phobias sometimes develop from a scary situation or real danger. A person who is thrown from a horse may develop an intense fear of horses. If a child sees someone bitten by a snake or is continually warned to be careful of snakes, then the...

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