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Phobias are created when a neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus that produces an unconditioned response which creates a conditioned response with the conditioned stimulus. In the case of phobias, the conditioned stimulus is the phobia and the conditioned response is the extreme fear that is paired with the phobia. Some phobias are more common than others. The three most common phobias are arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes), and acrophobia (the fear of heights). There are also many extremely odd and uncommon phobias such as lachanophobia (fear of vegetables), triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13), and decidophobia (fear of making decision). I have a close relative who has a phobia to iron lungs. Every time she viewed a photo of an iron lung or visited any museum with an iron lung, she would start hyperventilating and would attempt leave the room as soon as possible. She reported that every time she saw an iron lung she would see herself in one. No one knows actually what unconditioned stimuli that could have been paired with an iron lung that could have caused her phobia. However, her phobia is not really debilitating. She does not have to be in a situation where she has to look at an iron lung on any given day. But for many people, their phobia can affect their day to day life. Everyone must at one point face decision-making, the number 13, and vegetables. If you have severe phobias to height, where you are able to work and live could be greatly affected. The best current treatment for phobias is exposure, where patients are gradually forced to face their fears and slowly learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. In other words, the conditioned response becomes extinct. It a process that can take time, but in the end, can greatly improve a person's every day life.

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This page contains a single entry by karli016 published on November 5, 2011 9:36 PM.

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