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What are the Most Common Phobias?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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One of the most common phobias that people suffer from is agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces and of being left alone in open spaces. Agoraphobics rarely venture into crowded places, and they avoid areas from which they fear there is no escape, such as busy stores and cinemas. Although one of the most common phobias, agoraphobia is, like all phobias, an irrational and psychological fear. It affects almost 30% of all Americans.

Phobias can range from mild fear to terror that can affect a person’s everyday life. Phobias are medically defined as irrational fears of a situation that is harmless. The sufferer's reaction to a phobia is uncontrollable. It leaves the person suffering from extreme fear and heart palpitations and can lead to anxiety attacks. The only treatment for phobias is therapy, which can include behavioral methods or hypnosis.

Social phobia is another of the common phobias. Often thought of as stage fright, social phobia is a fear of being watched by others. The social phobic avoids any situation that requires her to speak in public. Not only that, but the phobia can also apply to mundane incidents such as eating in restaurants or boarding public transport. This phobia has affected 5.3 million Americans at some point in their lives.

Number one on the list of the most common phobias is arachnophobia, or fear of spiders. Almost 50% of women have this fear, and nearly 10% of men also suffer from it. Fear of flying is also a very common phobia.

Fear of being trapped in small places is also one of the common phobias. Known as claustrophobia, this fear of enclosed and confined spaces is often conceived of as the exact opposite of agoraphobia. However, like agoraphobics, claustrophobics also fear crowded rooms and places where large numbers of people congregate.

High up, no pun intended, on the common phobias list is acrophobia. This is the term for a fear of heights, which can be quite dangerous if the sufferer finds himself high up. Acrophobics become very anxious and tense in these situations, and some feel the urge to throw themselves off a building or other high place.

Other less well known but common phobias include emetophobia, which is the fear of vomiting or of being near someone who is vomiting. Carcinophobia is the fear of cancer, and brontophobia is the fear of thunderstorms. Number ten on the list of common phobias is necrophobia, which is the fear of anything to do with death or dead things.

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Discussion Comments
By somewhereusa — On Feb 11, 2008

I understand completely on most of these phobias, agoraphobia is my main thing, after I moved to a City that has a vast amount of refugees, i contacted TB somewhere, and since then, I have a hard time even going to get groceries, I don't go places alone unless I know where I am going and it isn't crowded...and being scared of high places.... has always been an issue since i can remember...i tried walking across one of the bridge walkways for peds, and bout passed out...

By somerset — On Jan 29, 2008

I am somewhat familiar with the fear of high places, since a number of people I know are affected by that phobia. It can be quite a paralyzing feeling. It is good to think twice before embarking on that gondola ride to the top of the mountain, or an all glass elevator to the top of a high rise.

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