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Phobias: A Case Study

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This essay would attempt to demonstrate that phobias, an unreasonable or unwarranted fear of an object, situation, person or place, can range from the most common to the strangest. (Kinder, 2013). One such phobia which falls within the strange category is somniphobia, the fear or dread of sleep. An article by Fritscher, 2014, showed that while psychologists cannot definitively explain what cause phobias, there are some theories which may explain why they are developed. They may be explained from various perspectives ranging from the behavioural, biological, cognitive, humanistic to psychodynamic. This essay would attempt to explore the onset of phobias from the behavioural, biological and psychodynamic standpoints and show which one or combination…show more content…
Freud’s psychoanalytical theory, while having some credence, cannot be taken into account in its entirety because this case study on Little Hans was non-scientific. Further, while persons with phobias would most likely recall early childhood distressing occurrences, this theory pays little or no attention to the environmental factors which may have led to the development of phobias. His study was also biased and debatable because his findings were based solely on second hand information from Hans’ father. Therefore his findings could not be generalized to a wider population. With respect to the behavioural theory, as was seen in the case of Little Albert, while this study showed that fear could be instilled in persons, it lacked evidence to suggest that little Albert developed a phobia. Using this perspective, some time in the past a person may have learnt to associate fear with sleep, based on his brother’s pranks about the bogey man coming to get him once he falls asleep. As a result, the person would avoid sleep at all costs From the hereditary point of view, while experiments were successfully carried out on mice, to show how genes could be altered to engender a particular response to the same stimuli from future generations, it is not clear if the same could be said for human beings. If a person is said to have developed a phobia genetically, it will be…show more content…
While it is not entirely certain how phobias are caused, when it reaches the point where common fears become unwarranted and irrelevant to the perceived object or situation that is considered to be dangerous, and impacts on our regular daily routine, then a phobia is said to exist. Somniphobia, or the dread of sleep, impacts on the life of the person with the condition in a way which affects their overall well- being. It affects their health, work, social relationships and can be detrimental in every way. There are several psychological perspectives or competing theories which attempt to explain what may give rise to the onset of phobias, each with their own merits and demerits. Some can be explained by themselves or can be combined to explain why people react the way they do to seemingly harmless situations and objects. However, as can be seen, while these perceptions are not exhaustive, phobias can be caused through learning, observation, genetics or biology. While they may be based on a combination of these factors, I believe it may be safe to say that the best assumption or more convincing explanation for the development of phobias, can be seen from a behavioural point of view, – i.e. all behaviours are learnt, whether it is by observation or social interactions. For someone to develop a phobia, they have to exposed to the situation or object in a negative way in the first instance, for it to bring about
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