Where do phobias come from?

Monday 18th July 2011
Submitted by hashworth1
ANON

Some are exaggerated forms of evolved fears that all of us share. For example, humans – like some other apes – are naturally wary of snakes, spiders and rats, which makes good biological sense. These natural fears can then be strengthened or weakened depending on how our parents respond to these triggers. The same kind of emotional learning happens in other species whose infants watch and learn from their parents’ reactions to the world. The fact that a phobia seems irrational to the person suffering from it does not make it go away. Other phobias arise from life events, such as being chased by a seagull or trapped in a small space, but many have no obvious origin and are difficult to explain. They can often be eased by appropriate treatment.

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? Submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Will we ever evolve out of our useless appendages?
previous qanda Article
Where does snot come from?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

The powder is actually tiny scales made from modified hairs. Moths, like butterflies, belong to the order Lepidoptera, which means 'scale wing'. The scales are pigmented but they also contribute...

By changing the way we perceive the world. For example, in experiments in which people looked at smiley or sad face icons, the music they were listening to affected what they saw. Even a neutral...

Lots of insects hide in burrows and only emerge at night, or use camouflage to avoid detection. But, more than any other group of animals, insects are also masters of the opposite strategy called...

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Beard hair is quite different to head hair; it is coarser, curlier and doesn't fall out as we get older. Comparatively little work has been done on the genetics of human hair colour, but it is...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...