Phobias could be termed as morbid fear or dread of something. It could be the expression of repressed dread of unpleasant childhood experiences which surface when a similar situation occurs, although the original fear itself may have been forgotten.
For instance, a child which has been bitten by a dog would develop a morbid fear of dogs, and may fear even the bark of a dog at a distance. Similarly, there are medical cases of people who fear heights (acrophobia), public places (agoraphobia), closed places (claustrophobia) and so on. People just need a cause for fear and this, in turn, could reinforce into a strong phobia, which may need psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
This article states that there are fundamentally three kinds of phobia – specific phobias, social phobias and agoraphobia. Specific phobias are the ones which are categorical and need to be treated specifically.
Social phobias could result through social maladjustments and inability to cope with social situations and relations and also need to be remedied. Agoraphobia is fear resulting from the individual’s poor adjustment to social and public settings. This could result due to lack of social interactions and could be remedied through better social interfacing and support.
In the area of nursing practice, the three main concepts that need to be imbibed are that fear habit results out of “direct conditioning, vicarious acquisition and informational/instructional acquisitions.” (Gregory, Lau & Eley, 2008, p.77).
Again, the causative aspects of phobia could stem from genetic factors, environmental factors and a combination of both. Incidence of phobias is more pronounced in women than in men and are reinforced by early life experiences.
Phobias are caused by a number of psychological and physiological factors, including genetically derived dispositions that are reinforced through life experiences, and it would well be difficult to pinpoint it to just one or two factors. Perhaps, a culmination of adverse mental stimuli, through conditioning or experiences may be responsible for its development.
Application of knowledge
There is a common belief, albeit a mistaken one, that phobia is a kind of anxiety manifestation. However, empirical studies have shown that specific phobias differ greatly from other kinds of anxieties and thus, it would be unwise to categorize these as anxiety disorders.
For one thing, specific phobias could be present independent of anxiety neurosis, and for another, the line of treatment that is administered for anxiety cases in the form of “SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)”are not generally used during the treatment of specific phobias. (Gregory, Lau & Eley, 2008, p.77).
Since the line of treatment and drug administration are different, it would only be logical to deduce that medical science views specific phobias different from anxiety disorders. This could be of help to the nursing community in determining the kind of medication and therapy that need to be administered for phobias.
Benefits of this article
This article has thrown new light on the subject to phobias, especially with regard to the aspects of genetics and environmental factors that play significant part in its determination and course of treatment.
Phobias present themselves in a variety of clinical manifestations characterized by low, moderate and high intensity, and it would indeed be unwise to be diagnosed as levels of anxiety neurosis, although this element may also be present in an overt or covert form.
This article is also correct in suggesting that, in the light of new developments in the study of phobias, it has become intrinsic to revisit and rejuvenate past studies in the current light, in order to be able to offer the best and most appropriate kind of medical intervention possible, for patients suffering from phobias.
Gregory, M.A., Lau, J.Y.F., & Eley, T.C. (2008). Finding gene-environment interaction for phobias. Liberty home care supply, European Archives of psychiatry and neuro- science 258, pp.76-81. (Provided by the customer).