Fear is universal, but for some it is a problem

Fear is universal. Originally designed as a survival instinct, fear has now become a form of emotional entertainment. More and more people enjoy being afraid, and there exists no better witching hour than that of All Hollow’s Eve. Halloween has become a holiday dedicated to all the things that go bump in the night.

Now what happens when being afraid is no longer fun, and fear is no longer used as a survival instinct? Fears become phobias. But fear not, for phobias can be easily treatable.

Jennifer Merrill, a psychology professor at Skyline College who teaches her classes about phobias, said that fear keeps people alive.

“Fear is normal,” Merrill said. “Fear is a good thing. It tells us, ‘Hey pay attention to this, it’s going to be threatening your survival in someway.'”

Phobias, on the other hand, are a subcategory of fear characterized by overwhelming dread concerning uncommon things in a way that does not inherently aid in one’s survival. With mild cases, the fear will constantly gnaw at you. In severe phobias, it can completely hinder how someone lives their life.

“A phobia is considered an irrational and unrelenting fear,” Merrill said. “It impairs your ability to do things.”

There is a plethora of strange types of phobias people may have. They can be as simple as being afraid of heights, also known as acrophobia, or as complex as being afraid of leaving your house, better known as agoraphobia. To some, these may seem silly. After all, being afraid of something out of the ordinary is what makes it a phobia. But having a phobia is not such a rare thing.

Fatima Eusebio, a Skyline Student, said she has arachnophobia. A common phobia, arachnophobia is characterized as having an extreme fear of spiders.

“I saw a big daddy long-leg like spider,” Eusebio said. “And from then on I was like, traumatized.”

Dr. Dave Hill, a certified clinical hypnotherapist who appeared on the hit T.V. show “Mythbusters,” through a phone interview, says that phobias are very common. Many people have some sort of phobia, and women are more predisposed in getting them then men.

“The number of women who suffer from phobias are greater then men,” Hill said.

But not only are phobias highly common, they are also highly treatable. There are many ways one might treat a phobia. Many people turn to hypnotherapy to overcome them. One method of hypnotherapy is Fast-Phobia Treatment.

“We do inception, where we take them through a methodology to help them reprogram their mind to be no longer afraid of that object, thing, or thought,” Hill said.

There are plenty of other ways to treat people with phobias. Phobias are specifically considered a type of anxiety disorder, in which anxiety is produced when the phobic is faced with the stimuli they are afraid of.

“Phobias, they are considered a psychological disorder,” Merrill said. “They cause a person to stress, they can impair your ability to do things, and they are outside of the norm.”

Like most psychological disorders, phobias can be treated with psychotherapy, counselling, and even medications. In this way, they are easily treatable conditions, despite their challenges and dangers.

Not many people think of phobias as psychological disorders because they don’t perceive them as dangerous. In actuality, phobias may be fatal. According to ABC News, an eight-year-old girl died from starvation because of her fear of the dentist.

So this Halloween, should you feel fear’s feral maw as you navigate through haunted houses and binge watch horror films, remember that for some, the fear doesn’t stop come Nov. 1.

Some people say they like to be afraid, but you have not fully felt fear until you have felt a phobia.