Specific phobias are an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of objects or situations that pose little real danger but provoke anxiety and avoidance. Unlike the brief anxiety you may feel when giving a speech or taking a test, specific phobias are long lasting, cause intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work, at school or in social settings.
Specific phobias are among the most common anxiety disorders, and not all phobias need treatment. But if a specific phobia affects your daily life, several therapies are available that can help you work through and overcome your fears — often permanently.
A specific phobia involves an intense, persistent fear of a specific object or situation that’s out of proportion to the actual risk. There are many types of phobias, and it’s not unusual to experience a specific phobia about more than one object or situation. Specific phobias can also occur along with other types of anxiety disorders.
Common categories of specific phobias are a fear of:
- Situations, such as airplanes, enclosed spaces or going to school
- Nature, such as thunderstorms or heights
- Animals or insects, such as dogs or spiders
- Blood, injection or injury, such as needles, accidents or medical procedures
- Others, such as choking, vomiting, loud noises or clowns
Each specific phobia is referred to by its own term. Examples of more common terms include acrophobia for the fear of heights and claustrophobia for the fear of confined spaces.
No matter what specific phobia you have, it’s likely to produce these types of reactions:
- An immediate feeling of intense fear, anxiety and panic when exposed to or even thinking about the source of your fear
- Awareness that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated but feeling powerless to control them
- Worsening anxiety as the situation or object gets closer to you in time or physical proximity
- Doing everything possible to avoid the object or situation or enduring it with intense anxiety or fear
- Difficulty functioning normally because of your fear
- Physical reactions and sensations, including sweating, rapid heartbeat, tight chest or difficulty breathing
- Feeling nauseated, dizzy or fainting around blood or injuries
- In children, possibly tantrums, clinging, crying, or refusing to leave a parent’s side or approach their fear read more
In a sign of how common mass killings have become, a proposed study would mirror past research on serial killers, assassins
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is embarking on an effort to better understand the psychology behind mass shooters, a sign of how pervasive the tragedies have become.
The FBI has conducted a limited number of interviews with perpetrators of mass killings in an effort to find commonalities in what motivated them to attack. Now the Bureau is considering expanding that into a broad-based study in which it would interview numerous mass shooters and look for patterns in their backgrounds, thinking and behavior.
“We’re definitely missing a piece of the puzzle through the offenders’ eyes,” said Sarah Craun, research coordinator with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. more
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has found that the misuse and abuse of benzodiazepine is relatively rare, even though the drug is sometimes hyped as the next overdose crisis in healthcare.
Benzodiazepines – often called “benzos” — are a class of sedative that includes Valium and Xanax. The medications are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Data on over 100,000 adults in the 2015-16 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health was analyzed by researchers, who found that benzodiazepines were used by 12.5% of American adults. Of those, about 17% “misused” the drug at least once, but only 2% had what was diagnosed as a benzodiazepine use disorder.
The study found several risk factors for benzo misuse, including younger age, male gender, lower levels of education, lack of health insurance or employment, and lower income levels — factors often associated with other substance use disorders. more
“Childhood trauma does not come in one single package.” ― Asa Don Brown
Deeply traumatic experiences, especially during childhood, can have an even deeper impact in adult life. They can significantly shape an individual’s personality and life choices, spurring research into the connection between childhood abuse and criminal behavior. In particular, the extent of childhood abuse reported among serial killers has raised the question: Are serial killers born or made?
Nature vs Nurture
Not all abused children become serial killers, and not all serial killers are victims of childhood abuse. However, the connection between the two cannot be dismissed as just coincidence. According to criminologist Dr Adrian Raine, both biologic and social factors contribute to the making of a murderer. Reviews of more than 100 twin and adoption analyses showed that approximately 50% of variance in antisocial behavior is attributable to genetic influences. In his book, The Anatomy of Violence, Dr Raine explains that “Genetics and environment work together to encourage violent behavior.” For example, those with a specific variant of the enzyme monoamine-oxidase-A gene are more prone to displaying violent behavior if they have had an abusive upbringing. A child susceptible to genetically driven violent conduct does not necessarily become a criminal. However, genetics, in tandem with environmental factors such as violent childhood experiences, work together to shape a person. more
Since #MeToo went viral, survivors have been inundated with stories of sexual assault and harassment on a weekly — and for some stretches, daily — basis. But nothing had evoked memories and pains of past traumas in some survivors, and particularly women, as much as the respective testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Senators, television personalities and people across the country heard stories from loved ones that they had never been told before. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) saw a 388% increase in traffic on its hotline from the Thursday of the hearing to the following Sunday. That Friday was the busiest day in the organization’s 24-year history. No other single #MeToo moment appeared to precipitate that sort of deluge.
Survivors with histories of sexual abuse are at higher risk of exhibiting PTSD symptoms whenever a #MeToo story hits the news, according to Freyd. But such allegations are often blips in the 24-hour news cycle. The Kavanaugh story dragged on, with an apparent strain on many survivors that the Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby allegations did not inspire — and it will continue to do so as he takes his seat on the Supreme Court. Experts say that all that has happened could have lasting effects on the psychology of many victims of sexual assault. more
Psychotic depression is a subtype of major depression that occurs when a severe depressive illness includes some form of psychosis. The psychosis could be hallucinations (such as hearing a voice telling you that you are no good or worthless), delusions (such as, intense feelings of worthlessness, failure, or having committed a sin) or some other break with reality. Psychotic depression affects roughly one out of every four people admitted to the hospital for depression. more
The Bathtub Test
During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
“Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”
“Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”
“No.” said the Director, “A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?” more