Marianne and Joe were discussing what they are most afraid of; Joe explained that he was really afraid of spiders and dark places. He said that when he was a child, he had been playing hide-and-seek with his friends. Joe hid in the corner of his basement. It was dark, and he didn’t notice that he had stepped into a large spider web. When he felt something crawling on his neck, he screamed and ran out of the basement. Marianne asked Joe if he ever goes into basements now. He replied that he does, but he always makes sure a light is on and that he brings a broom in case he needs to knock down any spider webs.
In a given situation, when an individual is faced with a potentially harmful situation, they may react by confronting the threat, escaping from it, or freezing in place (fight-flight-freeze response). Fear is actually part of our normal response to certain life stressors. It subsides when the cause is no longer present. We often adapt improving our coping skills.
- Based on Joe’s explanation of his fears, do they meet the criteria for a phobia? Explain your rationale for your decision based on the diagnostic criteria for phobias.
- Describe the difference between common fears and a phobia.
- Explain the difference between fear and the symptoms related to an anxiety disorder.