We are raising awareness! So, let’s continue with the dictionary of phobias. It is time for letter D. Here are the top 3 most common fears for letter D.
There are many interesting things about fears and phobias. For example, the fact that fears and phobias combine many aspects at the same time. In both fears and phobias, there is a cognitive element: a pattern of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that sustain them. But in fears and phobias, there is also a physical element, which is the reaction to the stimulus. And along with that, there is a behavioral element, which is the way each one of us reacts to danger and fears.
But, those are not all the psychological aspects of fear or phobia. There are others, like the prior life experiences of each person and how the entire society perceives the stimulus. So, in fears and phobias, a combination of many factors determines and sustains them. That is the reason why many people can be afraid of the same thing or can develop a phobia to the same stimulus. And depending on the number of people that present the same phobia, we are talking about a common phobia.
In their 2014 research paper, Schaefer, Larson, Davidson, and Coan established:
Phobic fear was characterized by more widespread activation, and more intense physiological and self-reported reactions. While participants were not formally diagnosed with a clinically significant phobic disorder, their behavioral, physiological, and neural responses indicate that their experience was far more affectively evocative than that of nonphobics.Schaefer, Larson, Davidson, and Coan (2014)
Brain, Body and Cognition: Neural, Physiological and Self-report correlates of Phobic and Normative Fear.
Over the last few articles, I have been sharing with you a dictionary of phobias. This dictionary is going to contain the most common phobias for each letter. It is a way to raise awareness about the fears and phobias. It is really important to understand the aspects of phobias and fears because although they are common to humanity, people who have them are misunderstood. And the only way we can create awareness is by sharing content about it. If you are curious about other phobias that I have discussed before, check out my other articles from the dictionary of phobias (listed alphabetically): A, B,C, E.
So, let’s continue building this dictionary of fears. Here are the top three most common phobias for letter D:
Fear for D: Dentophobia
Almost everyone dislikes going to the dentist. There is something about the place, the machines, and the sounds that can make the setting be perceived as dangerous, even though going to the dentist is necessary and keeps us healthy. But as in any phobia, dentophobia is an irrational and intense fear, so they sustain it although the object of the phobia is something good. This phobia is also known as odontophobia, and it is defined as the fear of going to the dentist.
Dentophobia is one of those phobias that can be the result of many elements, because going to the dentist involves many aspects. In other words, the object of the phobia, or feared stimulus, can differ for each person. For some people, the stimulus that develops the phobia can be the dentist. While for others, the object of phobia can be the association between pain and going to the dentist. Many other aspects of the visit can also be a stimulus of phobia, like needles and numbness.
About this specific phobia, Leutgeb, Ubel, and Schienle state in their 2013 study:
Dentophobia is very common in western societies. The extreme dental fear of such patients leads to avoidance of treatment and deterioration of oral health, which, in turn, reinforces fear… Most patients report ‘fear of pain’ to be the major concern leading to avoidance of dental treatment.Leutgeb, Ubel, and Schienle (2013)
Can you read my poker face? A study on sex differences in dentophobia
The thing with dentophobia is that it brings serious complications for physical and dental health. As I said before, going to the dentist is a need or a must sometimes. Dentophobia usually makes people avoid going to the dentist. But avoiding the dentist, especially when we need it, can make us lose teeth and can lead to nerve damage.
Fear for D: Dermatophobia
This is a really specific phobia. Dermatophobia is an intense fear of having a skin disease. People with this phobia have redundant and irrational thoughts about having a skin disease or issue. This abnormal fear is also known as dermatosiaphobia or dermatopathophobia. Those names come for the characteristic that the subject of phobia is a disease or a pathological skin condition.
People with dermatophobia can experience high levels of anxiety just from thinking about having a skin disease. But the phobia can get to higher levels if the person actually develops a skin condition. Some people experience panic attacks just by having symptoms like itch or redness.
About this specific phobia, Bull N Y Acad Med establish in its 1928 “Section of Neurology and Psychiatry” paper:
…the dermatophobias seem to be discussed at greater length by the various investigators. All types of phobia are encountered in medical practice, producing symptoms in various organs, such as “nervous indigestion,” diarrhea, nervous headache… The distinguishing feature of each phobia is easily suggested by each type, a further discussion of the subject being limited because of the lack of time allotted.Bull N Y Acad Med (1928)
Section of Neurology and Psychiatry
One of the most common symptoms from this type of phobias is hypochondria, which is the intense and abnormal fear of getting sick. For that reason, some people might experience fake symptoms of skin diseases.
Fear for D: Dysmorphophobia
This is a really important phobia to understand. Dysmorphophobia is not just a phobia – it is also a serious mental disorder. Dysmorphophobia is also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This phobia is characterized by an obsessive idea of imperfections in the own body. In that way, the body’s appearance is perceived as flawed. This fear is carried by an obsessive-compulsive pattern of thoughts and fake appreciations. And by fake appreciations, I mean the person’s own way to understand and describe its body.
People with dysmorphophobia experience a delusional variant. In this phobia, the flawed appearance of the body is either imagined or exaggerated. People with dysmorphophobia have constant and persuasive thoughts about their body’s appearance. And most of those thoughts maintain the twisted perception of the body’s appearance. Based on that, people with this phobia experience high levels of anxiety and stress because of those invasive thoughts.
Rajyaluxmi and Veale’s paper published in 2019 sets the following characterization for this phobia:
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also known as dysmorphophobia, is a condition that consists of a distressing or impairing preoccupation with imagined or slight defects in appearance, associated repetitive behaviors and where insight regarding the appearance beliefs is often poor. Despite the fact it is relatively common, occurs around the world and can have a significant impact on a sufferer’s functioning, levels of distress, and risk of suicide, the diagnosis is often missed.Rajyaluxmi and Veale (2019)
Understanding and treating body dysmorphic disorder.
In this phobia, the object of phobia is the flawed appearance of the body, because that is the main concern of the person. For that reason, people with dysmorphophobia have an abnormal fear of having any kind of imperfection on the body. That is the reason why people with this phobia are constantly searching and looking for any imperfection on their bodies.
Now, these are just some of the many phobias for letter D. They are the most common phobias, no matter the age or gender. Something interesting about these three fears is that they all are specific phobias, meaning they have a specific stimulus that serves as the object of the fear. Also, the most important thing to know is that the only way to face a phobia is to treat it. But we can not treat something if we are not aware of it. That is why it is really relevant to give a name to some of the most common phobias we all can have.
So, for now, let me know in the comments if you have any of these phobias, also let me know how does it feel to give them a name. Also, stay tuned because there are phobias to share in the dictionary of fears.