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a persistent, irrational, intense fear of a specific object, activity, or situation (the phobic stimulus), fear that is recognized as being excessive or unreasonable by the individual himself. When a phobia is a significant source of distress or interferes with social functioning, it is considered a mental disorder (sometimes called a phobic disorder). Some typical phobias are: acrophobia (fear of heights), astraphobia (fear of lightning), cenotophobia (fear of new things or new ideas), claustrophobia (fear of closed places), hemophobia (fear of blood), and xenophobia (dread of strangers). Phobias are subclassified as agoraphobia, social phobias, and specific phobias. See also anxiety disorders. adj., adj pho´bic.
simple phobia specific phobia.
social phobia an anxiety disorder characterized by fear and avoidance of social or performance situations in which the individual fears possible embarrassment and humiliation, for example, fear of speaking, performing, or eating in public.
specific phobia an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent and excessive or unreasonable fear of a circumscribed, well-defined object or situation, in contrast to fear of being alone or of public places (agoraphobia) or fear of embarrassment in social situations (social phobia). Common specific phobias involve fear of animals, particularly dogs, snakes, insects, and mice; fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia); and fear of heights (acrophobia).
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Any objectively unfounded morbid dread or fear that arouses a state of panic. The word is used as a combining form in many terms expressing the object that inspires the fear.
[G. phobos, fear]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


1. A persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.
2. A strong fear, dislike, or aversion.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Greek, πηοβοσ, fear Psychiatry An irrational fear or an objectively unfounded 'morbid' dread of an element in the environment or particular activity, of such intensity as to evoke anxiety, panic, and adverse physiologic effects, and compel its victim to avoid contact therewith at virtually any social cost; phobias may result from displacing an internal conflict to an external object symbolically related to the conflict Common phobias Achluophobia–darkness, agora–open spaces, ailuro–cats, algo–pain, andro– ♂, auto–solitude, batho–depths, claustro–closed spaces, cyno–dogs, demo–crowds, erythro–blushing; gyno–♀, hypno–sleep, myso–dirt/germs, pan–everything, pedo–children, xeno–strangers. See Agoraphobia, Cancer phobia, Displacement, Fever phobia, Homophobia, Monophobia, PAD syndrome, School phobia, Simple phobia, Social phobia.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Any objectively unfounded morbid dread or fear that arouses a state of panic. The word is used as a combining form in many terms expressing the object that inspires the fear.
[G. phobos, fear]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


An inappropriate, irrational or excessive fear of a particular object or situation, that interferes with normal life. Phobias may relate to many objects including reptiles or insects, open spaces or public places (agoraphobia), crowds, public speaking, performing or even eating in public and using public toilets. Exposure causes intense anxiety and sometimes a PANIC ATTACK. Treatment is by cognitive behaviour therapy.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


In psychoanalytic theory, a psychological defense against anxiety in which the patient displaces anxious feelings onto an external object, activity, or situation.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Any objectively unfounded morbid dread or fear that arouses a state of panic; used as a combining form in many terms expressing the object that inspires the fear.
[G. phobos, fear]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about phobia

Q. what is phobia? well when you have scary to someone or something

A. A phobia is fear from something- an object, a person or a situation, that makes the person feel scared to face that certain situation, and even try and avoid it- for example- some people are scared of closed places ("agoraphobia")- they cannot sit at the cinema or at an elevator because of the fear of not being able to escape if needed. Some people have a social phobia and they cannot face a crowd, or perform in front of a crowd (some can't even speak out loud in front of other people).

Q. how to treat my social phobia?

A. there is a protocol for treating any kinds of phobias. it requires time and a psychologist. it's consisted of learning relaxation methods and doing everything in small steps until you can handle your phobia.

Q. i feel huge tension when i am in close narrow environment , is it a phobia?

A. Yes, it may be considered a phobia, or more specifically situational type phobia. However, the important thing is whether is this fear reasonable? Do you think it's out of proportion? Phobia is a fear that one perceive as irrational and out of proportion and yet one feels and is affected adversely by it. If this fear is appropriate (e.g. fear of falling in mountain climbing) it's not a phobia.

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References in periodicals archive ?
An estimated 12% of people in the UK suffer from coulrophobia, a serious phobia of clowns that tends to be rooted within the media or can be formed from bad experiences associated with clowns.
'Thoughts revolving around negativities on the roads, anxiety, a rapid heart beat, being tense, feeling a throbbing headache, and panic while driving may be the common symptoms of driving phobia.'
Phobophobia: If you are constantly bombarded with thoughts of having a phobia, you are suffering from one.
When it comes to treatment the principles are the same for different types of phobia. We do "systematic desensitisation" which means gradually exposing people to those stimuli which are the source of the phobia.
The sample of this study consisted of outpatients with social phobia (n = 42), agoraphobia (n = 27), and simple phobia (n = 40) who applied to the psychiatry clinic of an university hospital for one year, in addition to healthy individuals (n = 51) who had not received any psychiatric diagnosis, serving as the control group.
With both types of needle phobia, once the person has learned to control their physical response to needles, a programme of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is often effective in helping the person to overcome their fears, challenge their use of avoidance as a coping strategy, and access medical treatment when they need it.
Hypnotherapists relax patients to try to take them back to the trigger of the phobia, which is often an innocent childhood encounter.
Evidences showed that social phobia was associated with 20% of cases of adult depression [17] and 17% of cases of alcohol and drug dependence [18].
[6-8] Indian data on choking phobia is almost not available, though it is not uncommonly encountered in routine clinical practice by otorhinolaryngologists and psychiatrists.
SUFFERERS of this phobia may avoid anywhere where there is a risk of seeing exposed midriffs (like the gym or swimming baths) or may be afraid of having their navel touched or having to touch another person's navel.