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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old June 17 2014, 09:06 PM   #1
Rhubarbodendron
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phobias

(note to Mods: this is propably a borderline-topic between MISC and Science. If you think it should be better in MISC, please push it there)


Being a rather curageous person, normally, I was a bit surprised by developing a phobia and anxiety attacks at the tender age of 50. In my case it's apparently based on traumatic experiences.


That made me curious about phobias in general and I have a gazillion questions. With such a big number of posters here it seems reasonable to assume that some of us have experience with this matter. Maybe you can help me find a few answers?


How do phobias usually develop?
Can they occur at all ages?
Is there always a traumatic experience / negative imprintment at the beginning?
=> How about people who are for example afraid of mice even though they might have never encountered one?
=> Do we only fear what we know (because we made bad experiences) or can we also be afraid of something we haven't encountered in any form?

How does a phobia work exactly? Is it really just a negative imprintment - basically a bad habit - or are there physical changes in the brain or shifts in its chemistry?
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Old June 17 2014, 09:31 PM   #2
Melakon
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Re: phobias

I have a fear of heights if I don't feel like I'm safely surrounded by something. It usually would manifest itself if I tried to climb up a ranger's tower. Once I was about 40 feet off the ground and starting to see trees from above, my legs would begin to buckle. In an airplane, or a tall building I'm fine. Open air observation decks at the tops of buildings were iffy, i would usually stand a few feet away from the railing.

The earliest event that I can relate to it, and which probably started it all, was going to a county fair when I was 7 or 8. There was a ferris wheel, and they stopped us at the top. I suddenly got scared and thought I was going to fall. I think that was the beginning of the phobia for me.
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Old June 18 2014, 02:09 AM   #3
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Re: phobias

Melakon wrote: View Post
I have a fear of heights if I don't feel like I'm safely surrounded by something. It usually would manifest itself if I tried to climb up a ranger's tower. Once I was about 40 feet off the ground and starting to see trees from above, my legs would begin to buckle. In an airplane, or a tall building I'm fine. Open air observation decks at the tops of buildings were iffy, i would usually stand a few feet away from the railing.
See, this kind of thing to me shouldn't even count as a phobia to me. This is normal human survival instinct. You SHOULD be afraid of heights. If you fall, you will die!

Now, if you start to freak out because you're standing five feet off the ground, that's one thing. But if you're several stories up and not enclosed in something designed to keep you alive, a fear of heights is totally justified.
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Old June 18 2014, 02:35 AM   #4
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Re: phobias

Roaches. Do I need a reason?
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Old June 18 2014, 02:44 AM   #5
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Re: phobias

Heights, spiders & deep water.
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Old June 18 2014, 10:37 AM   #6
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Re: phobias

Use of Time wrote: View Post
Roaches. Do I need a reason?
yes, please. There are many people in Asia who consider fried roaches a delicacy and would rather die than eat mouldy milk aka camembert cheese.
Was there a particular key-experience that triggered your fear of cockroaches?
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Old June 18 2014, 02:37 PM   #7
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Re: phobias

No. They are just filthy little scavengers that trigger revulsion in me whenever one gets in the house. Maybe it's the size and almost alien looking appearance but yeah, not a fan.
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Old June 18 2014, 04:57 PM   #8
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Re: phobias

I was never afraid to swim in deep water or unknown bodies of water until I saw "Jaws" in high school...after that, there have been panic-like attacks when I have had occasion to end up in deep water...I guess seeing the movie would count as the trauma/catalyst...something in my brain clearly changed...bummer...
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Old June 18 2014, 05:14 PM   #9
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Re: phobias

eeks, yes, I recall having seen that one. Scary and very disturbing. Fortunately, sharks never live in freshwater and teh next coast is a day's drive away.
I've had a fear of water ever since I almost drowned at the age of 4 or 5. I still can't swim but at least I work in the water all day now and actually have fun sometimes But when I drop into deep water the fear is instantly back.
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Old June 18 2014, 05:21 PM   #10
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Re: phobias

Deep ocean water never bothered me. I am not a huge fan of lake or river water though. It just has a nasty taste that you inevitably have to deal with and the visibility is usually decreased more.
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Last edited by Use of Time; June 19 2014 at 01:22 PM.
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Old June 18 2014, 05:28 PM   #11
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Re: phobias

heehee, that reminds me of a friend who once came to my lab when I just had a plancton sample from her favourite swimming pond under the microscope. She swore she'd never go swimming again because the lake was "crawling with hairy monsters"
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Old June 19 2014, 02:41 AM   #12
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Re: phobias

^^^now that is funny!...sorry for her...hope your Science is going well!
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Old June 20 2014, 01:13 AM   #13
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Re: phobias

I have never had any phobias of which I am aware. I can sympathize with those who have them, but I have not had that experience myself.
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Old June 20 2014, 09:47 AM   #14
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Re: phobias

you're lucky! Did you grow up in a very protected environment? Or did your family encourage you to explore everything in teh knowledge that they'd alwas have your back?

(I'm curious to find out why some people have phobias and others haven't)
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Old June 20 2014, 06:48 PM   #15
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Re: phobias

I also have no phobias.
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