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When I was 2 a Labrador decided to play with me, knocked me down and cut me when he playfully jumped on me.  I have no memory of the event, but for 30 years after that I suffered from canine phobia.  Upon seeing a dog my heart would start racing, I would break out in a sweat, I would get the shakes and near panic like adrenaline rush.  It didn't matter if the dog was a tiny Chihuahua or a great dane, as soon as my brain decided it was one of "those" then it automatically kicked in the panic response.

It was a strange feeling, of consciously knowing a tiny dog is no threat but still having the physical reaction outside of my control.

I've now had contact with dogs (my aunty had a corgi, my in-laws had a snoodle) to the point where I don't have the same reaction, but I'm still wary of all dogs and automatically scared of big dogs.

 

Having that experience I can really see the difference between fear (a justifiable worry of potential harm) and phobias (an irrational fear of an object).  Fear of spiders can keep you safe from the poisonous ones, but taking it to the extreme where you can't open a cupboard in case there is a spider inside sets it apart.

I feel many people get this distinction wrong, with people using phobia to mean "scared of".  You don't have a snake phobia, it is perfectly normal to be fearful of types of animals that can kill you.

 

I saw one documentary showing a woman who had arachnophobia to an extreme level.  She used a stick to open cupboards, to shake her shoes before touching them and to check food packaging from a distance.  She reapplied anti-spider spray to the outside of her house and around her windows on a weekly basis.  She even sprayed the toilet before being able to use it.  She had it so bad that it basically crippled her from having any enjoyment of life.  She could hardly leave the house, couldn't visit other peoples houses and couldn't hold a job.

It was great to see such people can recover and with treatment she was able to overcome the problem.  Just need to reprogram the brain to no longer consider that thing as a deadly threat.

 

Have any of you suffered from phobias or do you know anyone who does?

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