In switching channels yesterday I got caught up in one of those reality shows about people’s weird fears. I’ve had my share of phobias such as fear of heights; fear of traveling through canyon areas because of my fear of heights; fear of flying because of my fear of heights; and fear of amusement park rides because of my fear of heights—so I don’t feel I can pass judgment. But it’s interesting how we limit ourselves because of our phobias. In the episode I saw, a woman was afraid to leave her bedroom. She would not even go to other parts of her house and kept her food in a little refrigerator in her room. It was a very good thing she had a boyfriend who could bring her this food. A fridge in her room, however, ended up being another problem. She overate and gained a lot of weight. I can totally see how that could happen. Just passing by a refrigerator makes me gain weight, so I hate to think what would happen if I shared the same small room with one twenty-four/seven.
A pschologist finally helped this woman overcome her fear by encouraging her to take a few small steps at a time—first a few steps out her bedroom door; next a few more steps to her kitchen; and after a while, a few steps out the front door and down the steps etc. Each set of steps threw her into a panic attack, but to her credit, she continued, until she learned to control her fear. By the end of the program, she was riding in a car to places she hadn’t seen for years.
The episode reminded me that by taking little steps I can overcome my own challenges. I know someone who overcame the fear of speaking in public that way—first by just saying a few things to a small group; then by making a comment or two in a classroom setting; and finally by getting up in front of the class and making a presentation. I’m guessing quite a few of us have suffered from the number one fear, Glossophobia. (See my blog post, Problems at the Podium) I certainly have. Experience helps. When I was making several presentations a month I found it became easier to speak before others.
As far as my fear of heights problem, I will probably never enjoy driving along those high canyon drop offs, but if I want to get to my daughter’s house, I know I have no choice. Right now I’m working on keeping my eyes open while we drive along them. When I fly, I still pray very hard and recite scriptures to calm myself. It’s gotten to the point that I only hold my breath now on take off and landing and am able to breath somewhat normally in between.
I would like to announce, however, that even with the help of an excellent psychologist, I will never get on that disturbing looking ride called Colossus at our nearby amusement park. And if anyone were to so much as even suggest I sky dive, I would get myself a little refrigerator, go to my bedroom, and stay there for a very long time.
Here are the top ten phobias.
1. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia)
2. Fear of death (Necrophobia)
3. Fear of spiders (Arachrophobia)
4. Fear of darkness (Achluophobia)
5. Fear of heights (Acrophobia)
6. Fear of people and or social situations (Sociophobia)
7. Fear of flying (Aerophobia)
8. Fear of open spaces (Agoraphobia)
9. Fear of thunder and lightning (Brontophobia)
10. Fear of confined spaces (Claustrophobia)
The woman who hid in her room and others who don’t want to leave their homes to the point of having panic attacks about it, suffer from Agoraphobia. Many of our fears interconnect. Fear of flying, for instance, or Aerophobia, can be caused by Claustrophobia. In my case, it is caused by Acrophobia. Many adolescents suffer from Sociophobia, and I think it is safe to say that many children suffer from some degree of Achluophobia.
Scary as it sounds, I think I’ve at one time or another struggled with eight of these phobias. Which ones have been a problem for you?