Do You Have a Phobia? By Dr David Lewis

A phobia is an intense, irrational, fear of something, someone or some situation. It is described as irrational since what is feared – thunder storms, birds, heights, flying in commercial jets, confined spaces and, in Europe at any rate, spiders – cannot normally cause any physical harm.

No matter how irrational they may be to non-sufferers, the fear experienced is all too real and handicapping. To discover whether or not you may have a phobia, just complete the questionnaire below. For each item note the number that describes how anxious it makes you feel using the scale:

Not at all (0) Somewhat (1) Fair amount (2) Greatly (3) Very Greatly (4)

  • Thunder
  • Public Speaking
  • Dentists
  • Being Teased
  • Crowds
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Spiders
  • Human Corpses
  • Dead Animals
  • Injections
  • Being watched at work
  • Heights
  • Flying Insects
  • Crawling Insects
  • Flying
  • Bats
  • Loud Voices
  • Falling
  • Failing
  • People in authority
  • Feeling angry
  • Eating in public
  • Public lavatories
  • Germs
  • Blood
  • Vomit
  • Deep water
  • Worms
  • Dirt
  • Ugly people
  • Harmless snakes
  • Darkness
  • Cemeteries
  • Fire
  • Sick people
  • Medical doctors
  • Nurses
  • Nuns
  • Lighting
  • Making mistakes
  • Nudity
  • Hospitals
  • Medical odours
  • Missing a heart beat
  • Being criticised
  • Travelling in a lift
  • Strange shapes
  • Travelling by car
  • Travelling by train
  • Busy streets
  • Bullying
  • Anger
  • Overcast skies
  • Cobwebs
  • Disease
  • Strangers
  • Parting from close friends or family
  • Shadows
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Imaginary creatures
  • Being in the company of strangers
  • Pins / needles
  • Bed springs
  • Feathers
  • Knives
  • Door handles
  • Having a hair cut
  • Sudden noises
  • Computers
  • Technology
  • Arithmetic

One of the things that may have struck you when reading down this very lengthy list is whether anyone could really develop a phobia about some of them. While it may seem reasonable, for example, to fear snakes, rats, flying or thunder storms how could anyone become fearful in the presence of door handles, bedsprings or nudity. This underscores one of the key features of a phobic response – the fear stimulus itself often strikes non-sufferers and even many sufferers themselves as absurd.

The fact that a majority see it as ridiculous to become so fearful, to feel one’s heart pounding, mouth drying and stomach churning in the face of something which others handle so calmly and easily only makes the sufferer feel more foolish and weak-willed than ever. These feelings are compounded by the fact that the most usual reaction to such terrors is to be told, often irritably and sometimes contemptuously, to ‘pull oneself together.’

This is, of course, utterly unreasonable since the fear itself is real enough and the misery it often produces only too painful and intense. The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to fight your phobia and win.

You can purchase Dr David Lewis’ book Fight Your Phobia and Win here.

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