By Pauline Fontanaud |Staff Writer|
Approximately 9 percent of people suffer from one or more specific phobias, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
While only a tenth of the population has a phobia, we’re all afraid of something.
The Coyote Chronicle conducted a survey sampling students about their greatest fears. In the findings, we did not come across any fearless students.
Out of the 66 Coyotes surveyed, approximately 30 percent stated that they are afraid of heights.
The scientific term for the fear of heights is acrophobia. According to psychologist Juan M. Carmen, 2 to 5 percent of the general population suffer from acrophobia. So, we may assume that not all 30 percent of students afraid of heights actually suffer from acrophobia.
The point is, people are quick to attach the word “phobia” to fear of any degree. There is a difference between a fear and a phobia.
“While we don’t know exactly why or where phobias originate, they are a type of mental illness, with genetics playing a role, as well as environment,” said Kathy Hoganbruen, National Mental Health Association spokesperson.
There is a difference between being afraid of falling and being acrophobic, or being disgusted by spiders and being arachnophobic.
“Phobias involve the experience of persistent fear that is excessive and unreasonable,” stated R. Reid Wilson spokesman for the American Psychological Association.
Phobias can become a serious handicap when they have a social component, like agoraphobia—the fear of being in open spaces and crowds—or a medical component like mysophobia—the fear of germs—and trypanophobia—the fear of needles.
“To be defined as a phobia, the fear must cause some level of impairment,” stated Wilson.
This impairment can, for example, translate in the form of panic attacks, paralysis, or social withdrawal.
“I had a woman come in who was afraid of spiders, and it got to the point where she wouldn’t go out at night because she couldn’t see where they were,” added Wilson.
After heights, some of the most common fears reported by students were death, spiders, solitude, and the loss of loved ones.
Some Coyotes stated unusual fears, such as “butterflies”, “the destruction of the planet by humanity” and even “my boss.”
We also asked students how they cope with their fears and some had original methods. One student gets on roller-coasters to fight his fear of heights, while another simply kills the terrifying spiders coming his way.
Two of the most common ways of coping were avoidance of the situation and prayer.
One student listed “claustrophobia” as his fear, but when he explained how he copes with it, we understood that he was using the wrong word to describe his feelings of anxiety.
He stated that he “gets away from people,” but claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed space.
This could be an example of the common lack of expertise concerning fears and phobias and their proper terminologies.
Anyway, I’m superwoman so I’m not afraid of anything.