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to get quite irritated with people who claim to have a 'phobia' of something when they really don't?

(139 Posts)
extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 15:18:13

Inspired by a spider thread on another part of the site grin

Ok, I know that a phobia is somewhat subjective and affects everyone differently but it really gets on my nerves when people claim that they 'have a phobia' of something when what they really mean is 'I'm a bit scared of X' or 'I really don't like X'.

It isn't the same thing!

For example, I have a friend who claims to have a 'spider phobia' - she says she finds it hard to put a glass over them and take them outside, she gets all itchy afterwards.

Compare that to me who has an 'actual' phobia of spiders - recently I was in hysterical tears because there was a HUGE spider in the kitchen and DH had gone out. I could not deal with it myself, I couldn't even go near it, I phoned my friend at 11pm and begged him to get out of bed and remove it because I didn't know what else to do. When that didn't work I put a frantic message on facebook to everyone who knew me to come and help me, I was desperate!

I just think that for every person who claims to have a phobia of something who doesn't really it makes people less, I dunno, tolerant and understanding of people who genuinely do.

Like people who would scare you 'for a laugh', thinking its funny to trap you in a room with 'X' or shove 'X' in your face and then being all 'oh, I didn't think you'd react that badly' when you have a panic attack!


LynetteScavo Fri 29-Mar-13 17:56:37

There are different levels of phobia's. People on TV shows who claim they have a phobia of spiders, but then put their hand in a box of spiders to pull out £50 notes annoy me. That's not a phobia.

I have a phobia. I don't tell people in RL, unless I really have to (and trust them). My phobia is so bad, that if that thing was in my kitchen, I would no longer be in my house. It over rides my need to protect my DC, which really worries me. I have thought about being hypnotised, but even the thought of confronting my fear scares me.

I do wonder if I don't ^wan't to be cured.

I'm nearly crying thinking about it now. sad

So, there is no way I would be able to sit in the house, and post of FB for people to help me. I would have had to knock on a strangers door, or demanded all the DC get out of bed, find my credit card for me and driven to a hotel. I may well not go back in to the house, ever.

KatyTheCleaningLady Fri 29-Mar-13 18:00:47

I think of a phobia as a paralysing fear that can't be overcome by taking a deep breath.

I am merely very afraid of spiders and want to avoid them. It's more revulsion than fear.

My feelings about water are deeper. If you were to throw me into the sea, I could tread water and cope. It's just a deeply upsetting thing to think about. I don't think I could be persuaded to try snorkeling or scuba diving. I think maybe it's a phobia, but nothing like agoraphobia or something debilitating like that.

Mumsyblouse Fri 29-Mar-13 18:19:57

Sparklingbrook this is exactly the point that the Op is making, no-one likes needles or spiders, but many people who claim to be phobic are not. I tell people that I am 'needle' phobic (I have a wider medical phobia, but can't be bothered to go into it) and they say 'oh yes, I have that, I just don't look or I take a deep breath' or 'you just have to get on with it don't you?' to which the answer is no, you don't just get on with it if you have a phobia, you sweat you cry, you avoid situations where you have to face it even if it is detrimental to your health.

MyShoofly Fri 29-Mar-13 18:48:06

I have an extreme fear of sharks. People shrug that off when I say it because everyone is afraid of sharks...but I am obsessed.

I read shark attack statistics, I have frequent nightmares about them and it negatively impacts any vacation I have where my loved ones or I will be going to the beach. Watching my kids swim in the ocean = near hysterical anxiety and large doses of aversion. Feel like its getting worse too. it's a shame I otherwise love the ocean, water in general, and am a great swimmer.

I dont know if this counts as a "phobia" but I wish there was a pill for it too.

bishboschone Fri 29-Mar-13 19:02:50

I hate it when my friend days she is afraid of flying .. She has never flown !!! Err you are afraid of the unknown not flying !

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 19:05:09

I am not afraid of flying. I am afraid of the plane plummeting to the ground and smashing to smithereens. wink

bishboschone Fri 29-Mar-13 19:09:30

Ha !

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 19:13:29

I think that is where phobias really start differing to fears is that a phobia can have a profound effect on your life - I feel very lucky that my phobia does not effect my health in the way a needle phobia could.

I have questioned whether by phobia would effect me in a life threatening situation, like a stupid hypothetical 'if saving DC's lives meant touching a spider would you do it' honestly I'm not sure if I could and that makes me feel awful sad

Yes Mumsy that is what I mean smile All those people who claim to have a needle phobia and don't make it worse for the ones who don't!

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 19:13:59

Oops, I mean do, stupid phone :p

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 19:15:52

But if you had to touch that spider you would extreme if it was to save your DC's lives adrenaline would kick in and you would do it.

extremepie Fri 29-Mar-13 19:16:50

Hopefully I won't ever have to find out smile

ZolaBuddleia Fri 29-Mar-13 19:24:19

I really want to know what some of these phobias are now. grin

Purple2012 Fri 29-Mar-13 19:26:52

The dictionary says a phobia is an extreme fear or dislike of a Particular thing or situation

If you say I have a phobia where someone else is just scared makes it sound competitive.

I am afraid of heights. I don't like pictures of high things, even someone talking about somewhere high up makes me feel sick. Could I go up something high if I had to? Possibly. But I avoid them just as I avoid looking at pictures of them. Do I have a phobia? Probably, but I can live my life without having to go up heights so it doesnt really affect me massively.

Mumsyblouse Fri 29-Mar-13 19:28:51

In my case the answer was no I couldn't take my children to be vaccinated and I have never taken them to either vaccinations or the dentist. Even though I know this is wrong (I get my husband to do it). I have been with them for an operation though, so if push comes to shove, I can be in the same room although it has the effect of panicking them not being reassuring. So I could watch them being injected if it was to save their life but I would probably leave them with my own phobia (which is what I think happened to me as it was passed down the family).

KateShmate Fri 29-Mar-13 19:28:59

I think about that kind of thing all the time extreme - stupid thoughts are constantly running through my head when I'm in a panicky mood. Like if someone were to give me an ultimatum 'Eat the spider or I'll hurt your children' I wonder whether I would genuinely be able to eat it.
Like you say, hopefully we'll never be in that situation, and hopefully no one will ever give me an ultimatum like that! But this is the sort of thing that a phobia does to you.
Lynette I always think the same as that too. I've thought about having treatment - but the thought of being 'happy' with a spider completely freaks me out - I don't want that. It scares me that in the end, to 'test' me, I'll be shown a spider. I can't bloody take that!

Isn't is strange what we fear though - give me needles, rats and snakes any day and they really wouldn't bother me. But obviously spiders to other people aren't that scary either.

sudaname Fri 29-Mar-13 19:29:59

I have a phobia of cows. Shake,sweat,legs turn to jelly if there is even the slightest chance one or more might be able to get on the same path or field as me. I once refused to walk over a field (public footpath) where you could see for miles there was no cattle on it except for one little corner obscured by trees that we would have had to pass. My DH had to walk the whole length of the field to check out this corner and then signal to me it was cattle free before l would leave the safety of the road.
My DF and many others cant understand it and rib me mercilessly,yet she is an arachnophobic(sp) whilst l have no problems whatsoever with picking up the things and putting them outside etc.
Now correct me if l'm wrong but in the uk at least l have never heard of anyone being killed by a spider but every year there is at least one story of a walker being injured , even killed by cows surrounding them.
Yet apparently l'm the one with the irrational fear.hmm

bishboschone Fri 29-Mar-13 19:30:09

Needle phobia annoys me too. I mean who likes being stabbed with a needle ?? It's horrid but you just get on with it. It's no worse for them than it is for everyone else. I'm another one who doesn't like sharks but I don't go on about it . I avoid the sea and if I am taken by surprise by a picture it makes my heart miss a beat but I wouldn't say I have a phobia , more like I shouldn't have watched jaws when I was 12 !!

Mumsyblouse Fri 29-Mar-13 19:30:11

In other words, being calm for the children doesn't work for me at least, the panic takes over (which isn't very good for them).

Mumsyblouse Fri 29-Mar-13 19:32:33

bishboschone you are just illustrating the exaggeration to which the OP was alluding. You do not have a phobia of needles or sharks and it hasn't affected your life, lucky you but no, really phobic people can't just 'get on with it'. Do you think people with depression should just 'snap out of it' too?

bishboschone Fri 29-Mar-13 19:34:15

No I don't as my mum and sister have suffer from depression but I do think a lot of people make a big fuss about stuff when really their fear is no worse than a normal persons .

aldiwhore Fri 29-Mar-13 19:34:47

If a phobia is indeed an IRRATIONAL 'fear' and if all fear is relative, then YABU.

It's not a competition.

There are levels though, of fear and affect so YANBU to be a little annoyed at people who simply 'jump and shudder' if you have a proper panic attack and are incapable of rational thought.

On the fence here.

aldiwhore Fri 29-Mar-13 19:36:53

I would say if any 'irrational fear' affects your day to day life then you have an extreme, life affecting phobia.

Someone who loathes spiders but it doesn't affect their life STILL has a phobia, just not an extreme, life affecting one.

Emilythornesbff Fri 29-Mar-13 19:37:27


Bimbledorf Fri 29-Mar-13 19:40:19

Until I developed a phobia I definitely never had one before. Although I know I flippantly said I was phobic of spiders, snakes etc, I now know for a fact i was simply scared of them / disliked them.

My phobia overrules my brain and any rational thought and whilst I can talk about it and even laugh at how ridiculous it is - it truly overpowers me to the point of panic and absolute avoidance! There is nothing more irritating than someone belittling that type of fear just because they aren't scared of it themselves! Like Mumsyblouse says "lucky you"!

Mumsyblouse Fri 29-Mar-13 19:40:34

So, depression is a proper mental health problem, but a life-altering phobia is not. You better let the NHS know, they provide treatment for it!

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