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List of Phobias

This page is about phobic anxiety disorders as a class. Research etc on specific phobias should go on the appropiate page off of the links below(if they have no ICD10 number) or off the ICD10 page if they have a number.


A phobia (from the Greek φόβος "fear"), is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made. [1]

Phobia is also used in a non-medical sense for aversions of all sorts. These terms are usually constructed with the suffix -phobia. A number of these terms describe negative attitudes or prejudices towards the named subjects. See Non-clinical uses of the term below.

Clinical phobias

Psychologists and psychiatrists classify most phobias into three categories[1][2] and, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), such phobias are considered to be sub-types of anxiety disorder. The three categories are:

  • Social phobia- fears involving other people or social situations such as performance anxiety or fears of embarrassment by scrutiny of others, such as eating in public. Overcoming social phobia is often very difficult without the help of therapy or support groups. Social phobia may be further subdivided into
  • Specific phobias - fear of a single specific panic trigger such as spiders, snakes, dogs, water, heights, flying, catching a specific illness, etc. Many specific phobias involve fears that a lot of people have to a lesser degree. People with the phobias specifically avoid the entity they fear.
  • Agoraphobia - a generalized fear of leaving home or a small familiar 'safe' area, and of possible panic attacks that might follow. May also be caused by various specific phobias such as fear of open spaces, social embarrassment (social agoraphobia), fear of contamination (fear of germs, possibly complicated by obsessive-compulsive disorder) or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) related to a trauma that occurred out of doors.

Phobias vary in severity among individuals. Some individuals can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer only relatively mild anxiety over that fear. Others suffer full-fledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their initial panic reaction.

Main article: Phobias - History of the disorder.
Main article: Phobias - Theoretical approaches.
Main article: Phobias - Epidemiology.
Main article: Phobias - Risk factors.
Main article: Phobias - Etiology.
Main article: Phobias - Diagnosis & evaluation.
Main article: Phobias - Comorbidity.
Main article: Phobias - Treatment.
Main article: Phobias - Prognosis.
Main article: Phobias - Service user page.
Main article: Phobias - Carer page.

Non-clinical uses of the term

Main article: -phobia

A number of neologisms have appeared with the suffix -phobia, in which "phobia" is understood as a negative attitude towards certain categories of people or other things, used in an analogy with the medical usage of the term. Usually these kinds of "phobias" are described as fear, dislike, disapproval, prejudice, hatred, discrimination, or hostility towards the object of the "phobia". Often this attitude is based on prejudices and is a particular case of general xenophobia.

A fear or hatred is not always considered a phobia in the clinical sense because it is believed to be only a symptom of other psychological problems, or the result of ignorance, or of political or social beliefs. In other words, unlike clinical phobias, which are usually qualified with the word "irrational", phobias of attitude usually have roots in social relations.

Below are some of these neologisms:

See also List of anti-ethnic and anti-national terms.

Hydrophobia and photophobia

The term hydrophobia, or fear of water, is usually not a psychological condition at all, but another term for the disease rabies, referring to a common symptom. Likewise, photophobia is a physical complaint. Aversion to light due to inflamed eyes or excessively dilated pupils does not necessarily indicate photophobia.

See also


  1. AllPsych Journal | Phobias: Causes and Treatments
  2. NIMH - The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America
  3. Crozier, W. Ray; Alden, Lynn E. International Handbook of Social Anxiety: Concepts, Research, and Interventions Relating to the Self and Shyness, p. 12. New York John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (UK), 2001. ISBN 0-471-49129-2.

Key texts


^  Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, 4th ed, New Harbinger Publications, 2005, ISBN 1-57224-413-5


^  Kessler et. al., (2005). Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of 12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, Archive of General Psychiatry, Volume 20.

  • Curtis GC, Magee WJ, Eaton WW, Wittchen HU,

Kessler RC. Specific fears and phobias. Epidemiology and classification. Br J Psychiatry 1998;173:212–17.

Additional material



External links


Phobias - Academic support materials

  • Phobias - Lecture slides
  • Phobias - Lecture notes
  • Phobias - Lecture handouts
  • Phobias - Multimedia materials
  • Phobias - Other academic support materials
  • Phobias - Anonymous fictional case studies for training

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