Asked by: Julia Nielson, Cardiff
Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, heads most Top 10 lists, although it’s impossible to be precise about the true order. Happily, most of us can avoid seeing spiders very often, and arachnophobia can be treated relatively easily with cognitive behavioural therapy or hypnotherapy.
More damaging to people’s lives is agoraphobia. The name literally means fear of the market place (from the Greek word ‘Agora’). More generally it means fear of open places and crowds, or situations that are hard to escape from. Agoraphobics can have panic attacks and then become even more afraid of further attacks. This can lead to them staying at home, drastically restricting their life. Again, treatment is possible and people can overcome agoraphobia.
Other common phobias include the fear of being shut-in (claustrophobia), of social situations such as public speaking (glossophobia), of snakes (ophidiophobia), of heights (acrophobia), and of germs and dirt (mysophobia).