Friday 6 May 2011

The Friday Column - Phobia


The definition of phobia is a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer will go to great lengths in to avoid, despite the fear often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities.

According to the Royal College of Physicians 1 in 10 of us has a phobia but as a lot of people don't admit to them it is hard to really estimate exactly how many people are affected by them. There are social phobias - An example would be public speaking (glossophobia) and specific phobias - An example would be arachnophobia - the fear of spiders.

The phobia that has really affected my life is zoophobia - The fear of animals.

I have an 'irrational' fear that I am going to be bitten by them.The one animal that I am most scared of and find the hardest to avoid in real life are dogs. As they are considered a domestic animal they are a popular pet, they are in the streets and parks, on and off their leads.

My mum thinks that my fear may have started when I was about 3. I was playing in a park and a huge Alsation dog ran up to me (off the lead) and was drooling and displaying its gnashers! I was a tiny little doll of a girl so this dog seemed huge and threatening.

Ever since that day I have avoided parks if I can help it. I would make up excuses why I didn't want to go. I would cross a road if I saw a dog coming towards me in the streets. My hands would sweat and my heart would race.

As I have got older my fear has lessened but a dog off the lead still gives me the fear and I just want to run from the situation. I have learnt to hide my panic to some extent as it comes across as being ridiculous.

A few years ago my parents bought a dog. I never thought they would do this as they know how bad my phobia is.. I have got used to that dog and it is pretty much the only dog I tolerate off the lead, but I still won't be left alone with it!

I have a 3 year old boy and I have tried not to show my fear of animals to him. I have to pass a big green almost on a daily basis to get to the children's playground and I pray that I don't come in contact with a dog along the route. In a way I am unable to avoid situations that I would have in the past in order that he doesn't miss out on the normal things that children do and suffer the way I have in life.

Do you have a phobia? Will you admit to it? 


  1. Well, you know mine... Needles! I think you're coping really well with the animal phobia. You hid it well on Sunday, but it's not ridiculous at all. I guess my other one is driving... x

  2. Also dogs. Bitten on the face as a kid, terrified ever since. Like you, I try and avoid any interaction with them, apart from really really small ones - they don't really bother me. I get so annoyed when people I know say, with an unsympathetic look on their face, "your not a dog person are you"? No, I bloody am not, even less so that you won't control your stupid dog! Rant over.
    Great post by the way! xx

  3. Vic,

    I have a fear of needles too as you know and grass (more the mud under the grass) and sand (if they are nice grass and sand I don't mind!)but the worst one is the animals.

    DO you want to overcome your fears?

    Simone - I am not surprised you are scared of dogs, how awful for you. I totally understand what you are saying about people's reactions. People are amazed as it is a pet etc and say things like - it won't hurt you and that just makes it worse :-)

  4. Ok about to admit to total freakery! Am petrified of birds, cows and escalators. Want to get rid of me forever - buy a budgie. Death to shopping centre pigeons too who can smell the fear. Growing up in the countryside spent many an afternoon being chased by cattle, sprinting next to push chair as my seriously deranged mother dragged baby sister and myself over the cliffs to the beach. I told her they would kill, did she listen? And escalators, going up is bad, going down too terrible to contemplate. Other than that I am perfectly normal!

  5. I did have a major fear of dogs for the longest time I had a similar experience to yourself but I was a babe in a pram when they dog tried to get me.

    I can cope with most dogs now, but if they jump up at all I'm outta there.

    Spiders Im terrified of.

    Needles make me faint and freak out.

    Heights frighten the life out of me.

    The Bank brings on major panic attacks.

    Let me see what else... I used to be scared of going underwater after a bad experience as a child, but I overcame that one.

    I was also petrified of phones when I was younger, I had to get over that one as I got a job as a receptionist lol, but not before a lot of panic attacks.

    Im a very jumpy creature. :/

    Ms Red

  6. I forgot to mention thunder... as it just thundered and reminded me Im terrified of it. Dont mind lightening, cant stand thunder :'(

    Save me...

  7. Hi, I have two bad phobia's, Heights and Injections, I managed to complete a parachute course in the Army and I am a cancer patient in remission, yet I still have retained a completely irrational fear of both!
    Ted from Bletchley.

  8. I definitely can't relax when there is a wasp and/or spider in the room - when other people are so calm around them I feel like a total freak! Will always remember the time I ran out of a park as a kid to get away from one - totally ruined my ice cream experience :(


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