General, Research, Technology

Where do phobias come from?

A huge number of people around the world sufferfrom one or another phobia. Phobias are a strong fear of very specific things or objects. The cause of the phobia may be places, certain situations. insects or animals. Among children and adolescents, fear of specific animals, such as cats and dogs, is very common. And among adults, the most common are arachnophobia and hemophobia - a fear of spiders and blood type. When a person suffers from a phobia, then at all costs avoids places, things or animals that cause fear. And this is not so simple. But where do phobias come from and why are there so many?

Fear of snakes, spiders, rats, clowns and dogs are some of the most common phobias in the world.


  • 1 How do phobias develop?
  • 2 Modeling
  • 3 Traumatic experience
  • 4 Evolutionary Phobias
  • 5 But there is good news

How do phobias develop?

Specific phobias are very common,especially among children and adolescents. Studies show that approximately 10% of children will experience a particular phobia, making this type of anxiety one of the most common anxiety disorders in the world. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), phobias are the most common mental illness among women and the second most common among men. In Russian megacities, approximately one in ten people suffers from a particular phobia. Many phobias occur in childhood or adolescence, but can haunt a person in adulthood. Researchers identify three main scenarios that can affect the development of phobias.

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A phobia develops when you see someone fromyour loved ones are very scared (by a specific situation or a certain animal / insect). This is called “modeling." When you see someone else “simulating” a fear reaction to certain things, you are able to learn to be afraid of the same things. Situations where parents often tell their children that (for example) dogs are dangerous, they should not be approached, dogs should beware, and so on, the child is taught that ALL dogs are ALWAYS dangerous. Such adult stories can contribute to the development of true phobia at an early age.

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Agoraphobia - fear of open space

Traumatic experience

Negative experience can serve as a triggerfor the development of phobias. Psychologists call this “direct conditioning.” It occurs if a dog bites you, you are locked in an elevator for a long time, have a car accident or are in the midst of a storm. All such experiences are often very scary and can seriously injure the psyche of both adults and children. The development of a phobia occurs when a person again finds himself in a similar situation.

Evolutionary phobias

Research results show that phobiasoften develop in members of the same family. This may indicate the genetic origin of some phobias. Arachnophobia is a vivid example of the fact that our ancestors were afraid of spiders and transmitted this fear to modern people. You can read more about arachnophobia and its causes in our special material. However, researchers do not exclude that a person’s personality, along with factors such as life experience and the experience of others, can play an important role in whether a phobia develops or not.

Some spiders can be deadly

Are you afraid of spiders, snakes or enclosed spaces? Share your story in the comments on this article and with the participants of our Telegram chat

But there is good news.

The good news is that there are a number ofother factors that can help protect against the development of phobias, even if negative experiences are present in the past. So, support from family and friends can reassure you when something terrible happens.

Some studies show thatoptimism helps protect oneself from fear. A positive outlook on the world can not only significantly reduce the impact or development of anxiety and fear, but also positively affect life expectancy. And finally, the most effective way to stop the transformation of fear into a phobia is to face your fears. Otherwise, you may never know that you are braver and stronger than you think.