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Mental Health

What Are These Phobias Called?

11/18/2009

Question:

I have a few odd fears, or at least have a few instances that cause me to have anxiety and discomfort. For instance, I am quite insterested in spiders and find them fascinating creatures, but I am terrified of them touching or biting me. This may be because I was attacked by a wolf spider at a young age; however, I am also afraid of bee stings, and I have never been stung before. I have a major needle phobia, and once did not get my scheduled shot because I was hyperventilating. This leads me to believe I have a fear of penetration in general, but I have not found a specific term for this in any I have looked. What would something like this be called?

I also believe I have a fear of ingesting or otherwise being impregnated with tiny creatures that can harm or kill me. As crazy as it sounds, I absolutely cannot swallow whole pills, and cannot tolerate ants or other tiny insects being anywhere near me. I am not afraid of these creatures and easily crush them, but I will not swallow pills unless they are crushed. Is there a name for such a bizzare phobia as well? I believe this may also contribute to the needle phobia as well.

It is also worth noting that I am not as afraid of mosquitos and snake bites as I am of needles and spider bites, even though they use the same mechanisms. I am thinking that this is because I mosquito bites are far more common than spider bites, and I have become used to them. Similarly, I was raised in the presence of two boa constrictors, and have perhaps been instilled with the notion that most species of snakes are somewhat harmless. I hardly have any run-ins with snakes on a normal basis, so this may contribute to the belief that they are not as dangerous as spiders in general.

Further thoughts and insight into these odd habits would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

You seem to suffer from a number of specific phobias-something that is fairly usual. There is good psychological treatment available if you are interested. Treatment would allow you to be less fearful and able to face phobic situations much more comfortably.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been quite effective - I recommend you talk to your primary care provider or call your local mental health clinic for assistance.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Radu   Saveanu, MD Radu Saveanu, MD
Formerly:
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University