The mysteries of the human psyche: what causes phobias

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Sometimes the person is experiencing extreme fear of certain objects, animals or people, and sometimes it happens that the cause of these obsessive fears are the closest people, not aware of what action may be their words.

Загадки человеческой психики: Как возникают фобии

Not to be unfounded, I will give a note of application to the magazine «Niva» in 1907, which tells about the unusual life of one of the singer (the original style preserved):

«Maria Felicita Malibran Garcia, on rare voice and remarkable stage talent is considered the most famous singer of her time (1808-1836), was a singing school under the guidance of his father — tenor and composer Garcia, and debuted in London in the role of Desdemona.

Before opening, the father is a hot man and very hot-tempered, playing this time the role of Othello, threatened her daughter that would kill her indeed, and not just for looks, if it does not meet his expectations and don’t fulfill your party perfectly with both vocals and stage attitude, and for this purpose deliberately stocked with well-honed dagger.

Evening came, and young actress had a rare and outstanding success. But in the last act, when Othello is stolen to bokoumaka in bed Desdemona with the intention to kill her for the whole theatre rang out a shrill cry of the singer, and the young girl, jumping out of bed in a daze, swept across the stage right backstage.

The curtain had to be lowered, so as to continue the Opera proved to be impossible. Young actress disappeared. Only two days later found her in the courtyard, lurking behind the woodpile, half-dead from hunger and fear experienced. Took it home and only with great difficulty were able to calm.

Since then, a great artist could never play the role of Desdemona, without at the end it is not to fall into a swoon, and sometimes even very long. That’s what took its toll on her threat father.»

Brain mechanisms leading to the formation of such stable fears at the time were studied by I. P. Pavlov in experiments on dogs. Another of the school textbook, we remember that if before feeding the dog next to the light, then after a while the light will cause the flow of saliva.

After repeated combinations of two events a dog’s brain with «temporary connections» unites, binds these two facts — the lamp and the food. Seeing the fire of the lamp, the dog would realize that now it will feed.

However, in the textbooks does it say that Pavlov was doing other experiments. For example, he included a metronome, and then irritated paw dog electric shock, causing pain defensive reflex. After 1 -2 combinations of the metronome sound caused the dog’s negative emotion — she was worried, whined and tried to escape from the machine, which was fixed.

With a certain amount of reservations it can be argued that the repeated repetition of the experience of the metronome sound caused the dog’s intense fear. When she heard this knock (in place of the dog I would call it sinister!- Approx. ed.) she had a presentiment that it will beat the current.

We actually almost impossible to judge what felt Pavlovian dog in those experiments, but that’s what you feel at the sight of a dental chair or the sound of a drill, you could imagine. It’s probably cold in the chest, palpitations, tightness of breath, possible cold sweat and weakness in the legs.

Thus, the circumstances of the place where we once experienced unpleasant emotions and in particular fear, in the future, cause the same or very similar emotions.

For example, the sense of fear provoked by cardiovascular disorders, coinciding in time with a stay in the square, a stadium or another open space in the future, the mechanism of the conditioned reflex can lead to agoraphobia — fear of open spaces.

If a heart attack occurred the man in the Elevator or the subway car, he may develop claustrophobia — fear of closed spaces.

At the beginning of illness phobias occur by the mechanism of conditioned reflex, but over time the conditions for the emergence of fear expands. This feature of the dynamics of phobic syndrome allowed N. Asatiani can distinguish three stages in its development. For the first stage is characterized by the occurrence of fear in a direct confrontation with the traumatic situation.

For example, fear arises while riding the subway, where previously the patient suffered «a heart attack», accompanied by a feeling of intense fear.

For the second stage characterized by occurrence of fear when waiting for a meeting with the traumatic situation, i.e. when waiting to travel in metro in our example.

In the third stage, fear arises at the mere idea of the traumatic situation (the idea of riding the subway) in a relaxed atmosphere. In severe cases, it comes down to the fact that patients do not leave the house and spend all time in bed. Of course, in such cases, the intervention of a psychiatrist, only which can provide expert assistance.

A. Adamovich and D. Granin in his «Blockade book,» give an example of the formation of the fear of water — aquaphobia, the woman who survived the siege of Leningrad:

«…We are all afraid to die on the ice. Why? Because we were afraid we’d eat the fish. We are told that the better we get killed on the ground, small bits will break, but not on the ice. Especially me. I was a coward. I do not hide, Yes, a coward. Afraid that my fish will eat. And since then I became afraid of water. And when a girl was, I was a good swimmer. Athlete I once was. And then, after ice roads I became afraid of water. Can’t even sitting in the tub to bathe, I have just the shower stand. Afraid of water — that’s my trouble.»

It should be noted that the formation of obsessive fears play an important role not only reflexes, but also other mechanisms. First, it may be the fear is real, but greatly exaggerated danger.

So, the famous Russian neurologist and psychiatrist C. Davidenkov wrote: «for Example, nepoloho obsessive fear of syphilis is brought to the degree of pathology is a very real danger, as napolovi syphilis do you get from him should be prevented. Similarly, these objects of phobias like crazy, cancer, cold, death, the possibility of drowning when swimming or get hit by a truck, actually can meet in real life.»

On the other hand, obsessive fears are not always associated with real danger. For example, obsessive fear of venereal disease sometimes develops in a situation when the patient is just going to cheat on my wife, but have not yet done so.

In such cases, syphilophobia can be understood as self-punishment for immoral tendencies. Such symbolism, with the substitution of real events, thoughts about them and experiences possible, — a very common phenomenon in obsessive fears.

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