I’m writing this as I am sat on my sofa watching ‘Extreme Phobias, Extreme Cures” and despite the fact I do not have extreme phobias, there are several things which make me severely uncomfortable. According to the psychologists on this show, the best way to conquer any fear is to face it directly. It doesn’t seem totally absurd to actually believe this theory since it’s general knowledge that fear is taught and not something that we are born with.
It said that the only thing humans are afraid of when they are born is the sensation of falling. I’m not 100% sure how confident that hypothesis is; however it seems viable give that you’re not born with a fear of spiders. By observing other people’s reactions to things as we develop, we learn whether to have a positive or a negative (fearful) reaction to them and this influences our fears.
Watching this show has rung true to me how lucky I am to not have a major phobia of anything to the point that it affects my life; although there are five fears that I have that I would like to progress on within the next year:
1. Birds – My fear of birds is not totally unfounded. As a child I was chased by a swan and, bearing in mind how vicious swans can be, it’s safe to say it’s impacted my view on swans and other lake dwelling birds to the present day. After my mum adopted a very violent cockerel some years after the swan incident, my view on farm birds was also dented. And the day a pigeon chased me for a bite of my hotdog simply threw me over the edge.
2. Deep water – I didn’t learn to swim until I was approximately 12 years old for fear of drowning. I now realise that the best way to avoid drowning is by being able to swim, and although I can swim now, I’m still not a strong swimmer and getting into water that is deeper than I am taller makes me incredibly nervous and panicky indeed.
3. Cats – I used to have pet cats; however they died when I was fairly young. Ever since then I’ve always had dogs and somehow I developed a distaste towards cats that leads to major discomfort when they touch me. It’s a combination of their sharp claws and arching backs that makes me reluctant to even stroke one.
4. Dark spaces – I maintain the theory that I am not afraid of the dark; I am afraid of what’s in the dark. For example, I sleep with my door and curtains shut and without a light on because I know that there is nothing to be afraid of in my room. Despite this, I cannot stand being in an unfamiliar space in the dark. I absolutely detest it.
5. Germs – I am a self-confessed germophobe. Hand sanitizer is the most vital item in my bag alongside my purse, keys and phone. Public toilets are the worst possible thing I could imagine and so I willingly dehydrate myself throughout the day to the point of fatigue in order to avoid public toilets. Germs lead to disease and pain and sometimes death. A tad extreme I know, but that’s the whole point of being a germophobe.
Hopefully over the next year I can work on my fears, and I already know that the bird issue will have to be overcome very quickly as I am going to Lincoln University in September and Lincoln is famed for its swans. As for the others, I’ll try. After all, fear is just a state of mind.
Featured image: Brian Campbell