A person who suffers from a phobia has an out-of-the-ordinary fear, on ongoing fear. A person who exhibits a sudden, inexplicable terror has a different sort of anxiety disorder. He or she suffers from panic attacks. A person who has persistent, disturbing thoughts has generalized anxiety disorder, yet another one of the entire block of anxiety disorders.
In each one of the anxiety disorders, the person who has that disorder shows an undeniable anxiety. When a person has a phobia, that anxiety appears with frightening regularity. The person with the phobia becomes anxious anytime that he or she encounters a specific object or situation.
Interestingly, a person with a phobia can not be described as “blind” to his or her problem. A person with a phobia is all too aware of his or her excessive and unreasonable fear of a particular object or situation. The recognition of the unreasonable nature of his or her fear causes the person with a phobia to demonstrate a tell-tale characteristic of any phobia.
A person with a phobia will go to almost any length to avoid the feared object or situation. If forced into a fearful situation, the person with a phobia will demonstrate an intense distress. Such behavior can ummask before others the seriousness of the one person’s phobia.
Back in the mid-1960s, one Pennsylvania family was visiting the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia. At that time, the Museum had a huge model of the human heart. One could walk through that heart, taking the “route” that would be taken by a red blood cell. Two young girls went through the heart with their parents.
Until that trip to the Franklin Museum, those two girls had had no experience with anxiety disorders. They learned on that day that their mother had a phobia. She had claustrophobia. She was afraid of closed spaces.
Much later, that same woman served on the Board of the Doylestown Hospital. Today, she continues to have contact with others who have also served on that Hospital Board. Perhaps her association with that Hospital will lead to the introduction there of the new type of MRI machine. It is designed for use with patients who suffer from claustrophobia.
Before the invention of that new MRI machine, a patient who received an MRI had to lie in a narrow little “tunnel.” While in that “tunnel,” the patient could hear only the clicking sounds of the MRI equipment. A claustrophobic patient was often unable to remain in that situation long enough for completion of the ordered imaging.
Those MRI patients then exhibited yet another symptom associated with phobia. Patients with a phobia are often unable to function at work, at school or in a social situation.