A “fear” gets classified as a “phobia” when your reaction is so heightened that it’s not proportionate to the actual level of danger.
If the thought of a snake, mouse, or spider crawling over your shoulder make your want to shriek or knock over furniture running out of the room, you my friend, may be suffering from a phobia. Whether it’s tight spaces or bats, blood or needles, if you have an irrational fear, you can thank your genes and just a touch of trauma.
According to Scientific American, a genetic predisposition combined with exposure to a frightening event is the perfect recipe for a crippling fear. That snake bite doesn’t even have to happen to you. Just witnessing, or even hearing about it can be enough to trigger a phobia. Since it can originate from such a strange combination of events-- ones you may not even remember, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint the exact moment it arose.
The good news is that there’s actually something you can do about it. If your fear is debilitating, psychologists usually recommend getting up close and personal. Exposure therapy works by introducing the phobia in easily managed stages-- starting with something like a photograph of the feared object or situation. Once that become acceptable, the next step puts you a little closer until, 10 sessions later, you’re face to face and realize you’re fine. Watch the video above to see if you suffer from a phobia you didn’t even know you had.