Everyone is afraid of something. In America alone, 6.3 million adults, ages 18 to 54, suffer from a specific phobia and 8.5 million more suffer from social and/or agoraphobias.
Phobias are defined as one’s redundant reaction of irrational fear to a specific stimulus.
According to a Cambridge University article, phobias commonly develop during childhood, sometimes from a traumatic experience and sometimes for no apparent reason. Other times it is educated reasoning when faced with a first-time situation- “I am afraid, therefore I must fear something.”
Reaction to the stimulus varies and depends on the severity of the phobia. The most common symptoms are racing heart, shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort, sweating, trembling, loss of self control and passing out. All these things are known as an anxiety/panic attack.
Severity of a phobia is different for everyone. Those who suffer severely as a phobic may be faced with challenges every day. Their reaction to a fear may even become self-inhibiting.
Will Riddell, a former student of Leesville, is an aichmophobic: one who fears sharp and pointed objects. Ever since he can remember, Riddell has fainted at the sight of needles.
Riddell doesn’t know how or why he became an aichmophobic. He feels that his fear conflicts with wanting to go into medicine in the near future but has yet to find anything to cure him of his affliction.
The first step into “curing” oneself of a phobia is to stop avoiding the stimulus. A gradual exposure to the situation will teach one to deal with the anxiety and eventually how to encounter head on.
Rebecca Cohen and Elisabeth Jones, seniors, both suffer from a less common phobia: lepidopterophobia. This is the fear of butterflies.
Both students underwent a traumatic experience at a young age involving butterflies. Years later, they have yet to conquer their fear and react severely when confronted by the insect. Hyperventilating, shrieking, and the inevitable flight are reactions of these Lepidopterophobics.
Jones compared her reaction to that of Melanie Daniels’ from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, when the character was attacked.
Cohen and Jones agree that their fear is not very self-inhibiting, because it is rare that they encounter butterflies in such close situations. “It isn’t even butterfly season now,” says Cohen, so there is no need to worry.
Fears are part of daily life. Whether a phobia is silly or rational, the inevitable confrontation can be bloodcurdling and embarrassing. Still, hope for getting over it can be found in the gradual confrontation of fear. All fears can take over a life, but all people can overcome a fear.