05 June 2023





Topic by Korge

Short essay by Lawrence


There is no doubt that phobias belong to the psychology/psychiatry domains if not medical care by virtue of symptoms manifesting into physical ailment.


Phobias are described as “fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal (see NHS Overview below). And although fear seems to be a key condition of a phobia the nature of fear can also be described as “irrational, abnormal, unwarranted, persistent, or disabling fear…” (see the Wikipedia List of Phobias below).


The first issue for us is: at what point does an attitude or even a negative opinion against something stops being a dislike and becomes a physical manifestation of symptoms associated with the phobia. Indeed, why should an innocuous situation manifest itself into a phobia with physical symptoms? For example, philophobia, fear of love.


Fear is an emotional characteristic, and a legitimate topic in philosophy within the scope of emotions, but can some fears be reasonable and rational while other forms of fear associated with phobias irrational?


The articles below identify a range of phobias that are described as “Cultural prejudices and discrimination” or “Ethnic prejudices and discrimination” (see Wikipedia list of phobias). Even if we accept that some people might have a phobia for an ethic group, for example the Japanese, is this always rational or justified. Some British soldiers, who fought the Japanese army in the Second World War, developed a hatred of the Japanese after the war. This is a very subjective case for some individuals reacting to their personal experience and is quite understandable. But is someone who was born many decades after the war or not having relatives involved in the war justified to have Nipponophobi?


One of the key arguments for legitimate phobias is the personal and the context experience of an individual. So the question for us is whether a subjective legitimate justification for a phobia, can be objectively justified. Even a justification based on the scientific method. There is no doubt that the British soldier, who suffered when captured by the Japanese army, is justified to dislike the Japanese on both subjective and objective grounds, but what about everyone else?


Does this mean that in the absence of subjective experience, social phobias are not justified on objective criteria and are no more than just bias or racism? Assuming, of course, there are no negative experiences directly or indirectly associated with the phobia.


In other phobias, the objective criteria do justify the subjective feeling of phobia for something. For example being phobic about some medicine or food is many times justified; for example being phobic about penicillin or garlic. This is not just a matter of likes or dislikes but a matter of real physical discomfort if these do create a reaction in some people. But sometimes, we never know whether such items do harm us because we avoid them at all costs. Many people are phobic about flying and the fear of flying is in a way justified, but do some people go beyond what is rational.


The key issues for us are: the criteria that justify or not a phobia. The subjectivity-objectivity barrier. And finally, the language we use to describe the nature and intensity of the phobia we suffer from.



Overview - Phobias - NHS



List of Phobias: Common Phobias From A to Z






List of phobias




Best and take care




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