Phobia is an excessive, extreme, and irrational fear response. The source of fear can be a place, object, animal, person or a situation that can cause uncontrollable dread to the individual who is suffering from this mental disorder. They will design their life to avoid contact with the cause of their irrational fear.
I have an aunt who everyone thinks is crazy. She has weird behaviors when it comes to money. I know we all do, but hers is very odd. To think she has a decent job, and I can say she is doing well. One day, I remember her feeling nervous. She was walking back and forth the dining area of her house, and she seemed bothered by something. I meant to ask her, but she looked like she didn’t want to be disturbed.
Later, I heard her talking to someone on the phone, and she was borrowing money. I was surprised! Why is she borrowing money? Is there a problem that I didn’t know? The woman she was talking to seemed to agree on lending her $50, and I was like, “What, $50! All that distress over 50!”
It made me mad thinking how odd the situation was. My aunt didn’t seem to need the money. Her fridge is full, and she doesn’t have children! She even has savings. I had to ask, or it will torment me until I find out why.
“Phobias and obsessional behaviors are a frequent presentation seen in the consulting room and are very often associated with clients who have high functioning occupations or media involvement, either in front of or behind the camera.” – Peter Finlay, Ph.D.
I asked her what she needed the money for, and she seemed calm. She opened her wallet, and I saw it still had another $50 in it. She said she’s afraid that it might run out of money, and she shivers every time that happens.
“Why!” I asked her.
“I don’t know. It just happens to me. I can’t run out of money. I feel like I’m going to die if I do.” She responded.
I couldn’t sleep that night, so I turned on my laptop to try to search for her condition. I knew it wasn’t normal, and she needed help. I mean, we all do worry about money at one point, but I’ve never seen anyone like her. That night I found out about a phobia called peniaphobia. I thought she might have it since the descriptions fit her.
What Is Peniaphobia?
“If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is irrational, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious.” – Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
Peniaphobia is the fear of losing money. It is an extremely pessimistic reaction to the thought of losing it. We all do need the money and at some point in our lives worrying about it, but people with this kind of condition or phobia may display exaggerated behavior or reaction to losing money. Sometimes, they act as if they’re dying, or their lives depend on it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Peniaphobia?
- Panic And Anxiety
- Shortness Of Breath
- Irregular Breathing
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Excessive Sweating
- Nausea And Vomiting
- Dry Mouth
What Is The Treatment For Peniaphobia?
There is no right medication for peniaphobia. Doctors prescribe drugs such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines to treat the symptoms of anxiety, palpitations, nervousness, and sweating.
These drugs only have a temporary relief to the symptoms of peniaphobia. After the effect of the drug has subsided, they can all happen again, so doctors recommend that the patient deal with what’s causing the phobia.
What Is The Cause Of Peniaphobia?
Like other phobias, peniaphobia may have been from traumatic experiences that have caused a person to fear to go through the same situation again.
“If you get really overwhelmed by the thought of tackling your phobia,” explained John Grohol, PsyD., “then the desensitization technique may be right for you. All you do is gradually expose yourself to the dreaded thing or situation, and then withdraw when your anxiety becomes excessive.”
In the case of my aunt, I learned that she had a colleague who died in the hospital because no one would want to help provide her medical needs. Her condition required quite an amount of money, and she spent all her life savings trying to get better, but she never did.
So how can my aunt confront her fear? The experience that triggered her phobia never directly happened to her. I told her to see a therapist to help her with her condition because it isn’t normal to act the way she does when she’s running out of money. I mean, everyone does act out, but a person with peniaphobia is different. You could tell that there is something very wrong and that person needs professional help.
Water, wind, and fire are everywhere. They are a part of this world we live in, and some people fear them. Imagine how they handle particular situations that require them to interact with these things. These are necessities of life, and I wouldn’t tell you to imagine life without them because there isn’t.
We all know about the fear of heights or what’s also called acrophobia. We are all aware of this fear, but not everyone cares enough to understand it. Sometimes, all claim to have it. But how real is acrophobia? Are phobias hard to conquer?
“Everybody has little behavioural quirks; that’s what makes us unique and interesting. However, when these behaviours start to impact on our quality of life or affect our nearest and dearest, we need to reflect on what is really behind the actions and what we can do about it.” – Dr. Peter Finlay, Ph.D.
Acrophobia is an extreme fear of heights. An acrophobic doesn’t need to be way up high to feel the intense feeling of distress that causes panic and nervousness.
At first, I thought maybe acrophobic people are just exaggerating. It can’t be that bad! But when I met Jamie, I started to understand this condition a little deeper. I realized it was no joke. People with acrophobia are suffering!
Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. explained in an article that with phobias the threat is greatly magnified. “For example,” she said, “it is only natural to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, but it is irrational to be terrified of a friendly poodle on a leash, as you might be if you have a dog phobia.”
I met Jamie through work some years back. I’m a flight attendant myself, and she was just aspiring then. When I first saw her getting prepped for her training, I knew there was something off about her. She seemed anxious and lost. I wasn’t sure, but you can tell by the way she looked down, looked away then looked blank that she was feeling uncomfortable.
What Are The Symptoms Of Acrophobia?
- You feel anxious whenever you’re in an elevated place even though it’s not high.
- You lose control over your body and mind that you might get extremely confused.
- You panic and get hysterical.
- You develop a headache because the level of stress is too high.
- You feel dizzy and nauseated.
- You feel nervous and tense.
- You experience rapid heartbeat and palpitations.
Days passed, and I heard Jamie was struggling with her training. When I saw her in the cafeteria, I felt like talking to her, so I asked her how the training was going. Then I learned that she was acrophobic, but being a flight attendant was her ultimate dream. It made me wonder if she always had acrophobia. How could she want to be a flight attendant if she knew she’s afraid of heights?
What Causes Acrophobia?
The most accepted explanation of why people develop phobias is the fear of hurting oneself, the fear of falling and getting injured and dying. When we were a baby, we didn’t fear anything at all. We just responded when we felt hungry, sleepy, or uncomfortable, but nobody was immensely afraid of heights during infanthood. People develop fear because of the past experiences of being hurt and injured from a fall. It could also be from the knowledge of what could be the outcome of falling from a high place.
I learned that Jamie had a fall when she was a teen. She was a cheerleader and fell during a rehearsal which caused her to stop coming to practice, then finally quitting altogether. Right before that incident though, she always wanted to be a flight attendant, and it broke her heart when she realized she was starting to fear high places.
According to Dr. Peter Finlay, Ph.D., “While there can, of course, be latent reasons where past experiences are manifesting in bizarre and undesirable ways, in many cases the solution to the problem is much simpler and more readily addressed than one might think.”
She would have nightmares of falling from a mountaintop or an airplane, and she would wake up anxious. Ever since then, she avoided activities and places that will cause her to feel afraid. She admitted that there were so many opportunities she missed, but when she finally needed to make a decision, she knew she couldn’t give up her dreams. Her mom was a flight attendant, and there was no stopping her from becoming one.
What Are Ways To Overcome Acrophobia?
- Reflect on why you want and need to overcome your fear.
- Remember all the opportunities you missed because you couldn’t face your fear.
- Decide whether you still want to live in the shadows of acrophobia.
- If you’re finally decided to overcome your fear, prepare to face it.
- Don’t rush. You can’t deal with it with just one try.
- Focus on your goal. Think of it as a motivation.
- Relax and breathe. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Today, Jamie is one of the senior flight attendants in our airline, and she’s doing pretty well. I can’t help but admire her whenever I think of how she started. Although according to her, there are still times it gets to her, but she won’t let it come between her and her dreams.
When you ask me if she overcame her acrophobia, I would answer yes! Overcoming our fear doesn’t necessarily imply it vanishes all at once. It just means we are brave enough not to let it stop us from living.
One of the most human and instinctive traits that we humans have is fear. Fear is one of the primary reasons why humanity will and has survived all throughout these years. Fear allows us to discern and evaluate the potential dangers around and within the environment that may cause us harm or pain. This emotion is natural not just to us but to almost all living organisms as it is programmed within the very consciousness of our existence.
Rational and Irrational Fears
Fear can be classified into two factors – rational fear and irrational fear.
- Rational fear is fearing something within reason to a particular situation or scenario where the potential harm can occur.
- Irrational fear is far more different. It is an abnormal fear of a specific thing or situation that induces the desire to avoid it even if awareness and assurance that the given object or situation does not pose potential harm and danger. This irrational fear is called a phobia.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder where people develop a persistent fear of a specific thing or situation. These fears are often excessive and without reason, where people who have developed phobias to different things often intensely fear things that in reality are no threat or danger to their physical or mental wellbeing.
Dr. Dena Rabinowitz, a licensed psychologist from New York City, said in an interview, “Phobias tend to cluster around common themes, animals, storms, certain unnatural environments. But there are some unique phobias. So, for example, in New York City, we have a lot of pigeon phobias. Because pigeons are around.”
Genetics and Environmental Factors
The causes of the different phobias are not specific. They can develop during childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, depending on the present situation or environment a person is subjected to. People can also develop phobias by linking or associating specific past events that were frightening and stressful to them, causing them to fear a repeated incident regarding that one particular thing or situation. Environmental factors may also lead to the development of phobias, like children learning to fear what people around his or her early years also fear.
“Margie Mader, LMFT, wrote, “When someone comes into my office and says they are suffering from anxiety, panic attacks or phobias, I ask them one question. “When did this start?” We can usually pinpoint it back to at least one traumatic incident that has impacted their system (mind, body, and spirit) so severely that it keeps replaying and therefore causing discomfort.”
Small or big events a person experiences can trigger emotional distress, which in turn can lead to phobias. These experiences may or may not be first hand but can play a factor in fear of occurrence to the self. There are also phobias that are developed genetically, where memories are passed down from generation to generation that allow offspring to inherit these fears from their ancestors. Also, there have been studies that support that both rational and irrational fear of things and situations are imprinted to genes that can be passed on.
How You Will Respond To Your Phobia Makes A Difference
Distinguishing the origin of phobias is not exact as it differs from individual to individual. The sources of fear may be the same, but the emotional response to them can vary. Experiences are also subjective and personal which may lead to different interpretations and associations. There is no particular cause for why we develop phobias, only genetic and environmental factors that play specific roles in the development of our thoughts and our psyche that often defy logic and reason.
Living with phobias may sometimes be difficult, but facing these fears is the only solution for you to master and own them.