You normally hear kids being afraid of the dark, afraid of the bogeyman or the monsters that hide under their beds and their fears are most likely caused by their over-active imagination, coupled with scary stories they’ve heard from their friends. Normally, kids outgrow these childhood fears, when they realize that the remedy to darkness is light, the bogeyman does not exist and the monsters under their beds are giant dust bunnies that mom hasn’t been able to vacuum. Some fears, however, are never outgrown and continue to bother people way into their adulthood. These exaggerated fears, oftentimes inexplicable and illogical, of a particular object, class of objects of situations, are called phobias and approximately 10% of the world’s population currently suffer from at least one form of phobia; and of this 10%, women are more likely than men to have a phobia. Psychologists have categorized as many as 500 kinds of phobias, listed below are five of the more common phobias that affect people.
Arachnophobia (fear of spiders)
Even though spiders are small creatures mind their own business and just spin webs for the to catch their food, 55% of females and 18% of males in the Western regions cannot stand them. Their fear of spiders, even just a photo of a spider, can cause excessive sweating or clamminess, rapid breathing, elevated heartbeat, nausea and dizziness. In more extreme cases, individuals who are afraid of spiders can even affect where they choose to live, go on holiday, where to work and what sports or hobbies they can enjoy. Experts believe that the irrational fear of spiders may have been caused by a traumatic event involving spiders that occurred in their youth – and that they probably just never outgrew that initial fear.
Films to Avoid: Spiderman Films (old and new versions), Arachnophobia
Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
To be afraid of snakes is normal – especially if the snake is in your backyard (which happens often in Australia) or you’re faced by one while you’re tramping in a remote Amazon rainforest. However, fear of snakes that are sleeping peacefully in cages, or are happily slithering away in zoo enclosures – is not. The origin of the fear is quite difficult to determine. Some researchers believe that this fear is evolutionary – something our ancestors developed in order to survive. This theory, however, cannot explain why some people have a great fear of snakes but are not daunted by images of predatory animals such as tigers and lions. People who suffer from Ophidiophobia can shake and cry at the sight of a snake. Some experience heart palpitations, and have difficulty breathing.
Films to Avoid: Snakes on a Plane, Anaconda
Acrophobia (fear of heights)
Just to clarify: acrophobia is the fear of heights. It is different from aerophobia whish is the fear of flying. People afflicted with acrophobia have a fear of being above ground — being on a high floor of a building, walking on suspension bridges, and even climbing a ladder - especially if there is little or no protection. They experience panic attacks (sweating, hyperventilation, increased heart rate) and become too agitated or stressed out to get themselves down safely. Roughly 2 to 5% of the general population suffer from acrophobia, with twice as many women affected as men. Experts believe that acrophobia is a learned response driven by an unpleasant experience in one’s youth, or a parent’s reaction to heights.
Films to Avoid: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and any film that has scenes in high places.
Agoraphobia (fear of public places)
People who fear situations or places where escape is difficult suffer from agoraphobia. Even ope n spaces can make an agoraphobic person feel trapped or helpless. They will experience panic attacks and will need to remove themselves from the situation to calm themselves down. Some people just avoid places with big crowds, while others who suffer extreme agoraphobia, are unable to leave their homes at any time – not even to go to work, or to do some shopping. An example of how an agoraphobic person will most likely react in a large crowd can be seen in the 2000 film, Finding Forrester. In one scene William Forrester (played by the ageless Sean Connery) suffers a panic attack when his young friend Jamal (portrayed by Rob Brown) takes him to a baseball game.
Films to Avoid: Agora, and other films with scenes in public places
Cynophobia (fear of dogs)
Another common phobia is the fear of dogs, or Cynophobia and, like most phobias, may have been triggered by an unpleasant experience with a dog during childhood, or from hearing exaggerated horror stories dogs. People with cynophobia experience varying levels of anxiety depending on how severe their phobia is. Some only fear large breeds, or a specific breed; others are uncomfortable with dogs around but can tolerate photos of dogs. The most common reaction exhibited include running away, freezing, or attempting to hide. Others may even shake, feel nauseated, and to some extent, cry.
Films to Avoid: Cujo, Marley and Me
If you’re afraid of something but don’t know what it’s “officially” called, have a look at this: An A-Z list of Phobias. It lists down all known phobias from the ones above, to more interesting ones such as Philophobia (fear of love), Ombrophobia (fear of rain), and Heliophobia (fear of the sun).