Specific Phobia

Elizabeth Winter, M.D., O. Joseph Bienvenu, M.D., Ph.D.


  • Irrational fear of an object or stimulus out of proportion to the danger the phobic stimulus actually represents, leading to avoidance and distress or impairment
  • Common subtypes
    • Blood-injection-injury (BII): e.g. fear of needles, violent imagery, giving blood
      • Marked by a biphasic physiological response that frequently leads to syncope: initial sympathetic-mediated response of increased heart rate and blood pressure rapidly followed by a vasovagal-mediated response of decreased heart rate and blood pressure
    • Animal: e.g. fear of spiders, dogs, snakes
    • Natural environment: e.g. fear of the dark, lightning, water
    • Situational: e.g. fear of tunnels, flying, bridges
    • Other: e.g. fear of vomiting, clowns, "space" (falling)

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Last updated: October 31, 2017