An irrational fear of particular objects or situations. A well-known American medical dictionary lists more than 200 ‘examples’ of phobias, ranging, alphabetically, from fear of air to fear of writing. Included in the list are phobophobia (fear of phobias) and triskaidekaphobia (fear of having 13 sitting at table).
Phobia is a form of obsession, and not uncommonly one of the features of anxiety. Treatment is behavioural therapy complemented in some patients with ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS. Care is needed, as some suﬀerers can become psychologically dependent on the drugs used to treat them (see DEPENDENCE). Those who suﬀer from what can be a most distressing condition can obtain help and advice from the Phobics Society. (See also MENTAL ILLNESS.)