Phobia- intense and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. Because of this intense and persistent fear, the phobic person often leads a constricted life. The anxiety is typically out of proportion to the real situation, and the victim is fully aware that the fear is irrational.
Phobic anxiety is distinguishable from other forms of anxiety only in that it occurs specifically in relation to a certain object or situation. This anxiety is characterized by physiological symptoms such as a rapid, pounding heartbeat, stomach disorders, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, choking feelings, flushing of the face, perspiration, tremulousness, and faintness. Some phobic people are able to confront their fears. More commonly, however, they avoid the situation or object that causes the fear—an avoidance that impairs the sufferer's freedom.
Psychiatrists recognize three major types of phobias. Simple phobias are fears of specific objects or...