What is the difference between phobias and fears? Well the distinction generally made is to say that a fear is rational and when fear becomes irrational it is a phobia. In reality the difference is mainly one of degree and the handiest way to distinguish what is a phobia is by saying that a phobia is different from a fear by being more irrational; because, having being fueled by our imagination, every fear will have a degree of irrationality to it, but it is more reasoned. Phobias need to be de-conditioned in order for a cure to be established. Put simply a persons phobic stimulus has to be reversed when coming into association with the trigger.
Cognitive anxiety management techniques, ongoing relaxation and gradual exposure to the problem situation, can over time ease the causes of phobias. What are the causes of phobias? Well, over time, We have evolved with the ability to become phobic. In today's complex world our learning mechanism often works in an inappropriate ways and can be held responsible for the causes of phobias. Unconscious or emotional learning takes place to keep us safe. In primitive conditions when coming into contact with something dangerous, the mind / body would create the optimum state for survival – a panic attack. This type of learning is not of the intellectual, or rational type. This type of learning takes place at an emotional level so that the response can bypass the 'thinking brain' and can be attributed to the causes of phobias.
To become phobic, all you need is a high anxiety state paired with an object. The causes of phobias are basically the misuse of the imagination. Non-specific phobias can come about either through a 'spreading-out' of panic attacks, or through a person's levels of general anxiety becoming so high that panic is easily triggered whenever stress levels are raised even slightly. There are several different types of phobia, but all of them can make life miserable, cause embarrassment and undermine self confidence and self esteem. There are simple phobias, which are fear of a single stimulus such as fear of heights, ladders, snakes, rats, frogs, enclosed places, etc. More complex phobias involve a fear of a number of stimuli, such as flying, whereby an individual phobic may be afraid of crashing, being enclosed in the plane, losing self control etc.