Check out the five phobias most likely to mess up your life.
Agoraphobia: fear of open spaces
Agoraphobia covers many different scenarios, from a fear of stepping outside to a need to stay in one familiar place, such as your home. In many cases, it can be defined as a sense of dread that kicks in when no available exit is apparent.
Claustrophobia: fear of confined spaces
Often confused with agoraphobia, this well-known terror tends to strike at anyone who has had an early experience of feeling trapped in a small or closed off space, i.e. stuck in a lift or locked in a cupboard as a child.
Acrophobia: fear of heights
Being scared of heights is believed to be a natural instinct, and not a learned response to a stressful situation which gives rise to fears such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia. Most of us are nervous when faced with a hundred foot drop, but it's defined as a phobia if you can't reach the second floor of the shopping mall without freaking out.
Mysophobia: fear of germs or dirt
The technical term for being a clean-freak. Nobody really enjoys getting grubby, of course, unless it's Glastonbury and the press photographers have trained their lens on you, but for some the prospect of a little muck under the fingernails can be deeply alarming. It's less about needing to be clean, and more to do with a profound fear of picking up germs, which can have a restrictive impact on your life if you're too scared to shake hands with people.
Xenophobia: fear of strangers or the unknown
Describes an irrational terror of anyone unfamiliar to the sufferer, and leaves them feeling alarmed or even threatened.
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