The term “phobia” originates from the Greek, phobos. and means an irrational and intense fear of something, or a persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things or people. Phobias are mental disorders or even mental illnesses, whose definitions embrace at least 105 different kinds of anxiety (according to the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology).
These range from those categorized as mild to those considered “acute,” depending on the nature of the disorder. The further it is from a sense of what is real and the more intense the anxiety disorder experienced, the more the likely the disorder would is considered “acute,” or categorized as mental illness.
From the explanation above, clearly an individual with a phobia is an individual who has a psychological problem which may require treatment or therapy. It is not difficult to overcome a mild phobia, for example acrophobia (the fear of heights), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) or nyctophobia/scotophobia (fear of darkness).
Morbid fears in phobias such as these, aside from having individual characteristics, can also be directed at inanimate objects and general situations.
An interesting phenomenon can sometimes occur when there is a significant shift in opinions about who needs treatment and therapy. When a phobia affects a group of people or an entire society, a shift occurs – from an individual suffering from a disorder, to a group of people affected by a phobia. Such shifts turn things upside down, when a group has a phobia as a common characteristic.
Then, as in the law of “mass mentality” in social psychology, what is characterized as morbid in a phobia can change from a form of disorder to a form of common order (common sense). I perceive this is the case with xenophobia (the fear of foreigners) and homophobia (fear of homosexuals).
Still, homophobia is a form of phobia that affects the greatest number of societies in the world.
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