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The dictionary defines a phobia as A persistent abnormal and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous American Heritage Dictionary 2000 Phobias affect people of all ages colors and genders Research has shown that approximately 51-125 of Americans have phobias They are the most common psychiatric illness among women of all ages and are the second most common illness among men over the age of 25 Levinson 1986 76 Everyone feels anxious or uneasy from time to time Your first day on a new job planning for a long trip or even going to the dentist your palms sweat you feel shaky and your heart begins to pound Some anxiety may help keep you focused on the job at hand However when your anxiety is so serious that it interferes with your work leads you to avoid certain situations or keeps you from enjoying life you may be suffering from a form of the most common type of mental disorder or phobia To completely understand phobias researchers have divided them into three different groups First Realistic Phobias which develop after sudden exposure to traumatic situations For example one night while walking down the street a woman is brutally mugged This incident sticks in her mind and develops into an uncontrollable fear of walking the streets at night Her phobia is considered to have a realistic basis Realistic phobias do make sense but not everyone who suffers from such an experience becomes a victim of phobia They can be fearful for a short period of time but definitely not permanently phobic To some degree the severity of the trauma determines whether or not a lasting phobia will develop Ferber 1959 98 Secondly Neurotic Phobias develop all in the mind through a series of subconscious or unconscious Freudian Processes Levinson 1986 40 These phobias are generally related to some repressed
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