L... Is for Leukophobia; Graham Henry, Who Suffers from a Fear of Mannequins, Examines How Phobias Can Affect Every Area of a Person's Life - Including His Own
PHOBIAS can span every area of life, from the most common fears of spiders and snakes, to the all-encompassing social phobias which make us fear our friends and neighbours.
These fears can impact on the everyday lives of those who suffer from them, and can become so severe they dominate every area of a person's life - from home life to work and social interactions.
For Paul Salkovskis, a professor of clinical psychology and applied science at the University of Bath and patron of Anxiety UK, phobias are "entirely unnecessary".
"All types of phobias are unnecessary," he said. "We have the ability to treat all phobias. It's true that we often don't have the resources to treat them, but the problem is the availability, not the possibility, to treat phobias.
"Anxiety in general is unnecessary - common phobias such as those of snakes, spiders and dogs can be treated most of the time in one session, in two hours.
"With social phobias it may take a little longer, around 10 to 15 hours of treatment, but the bottom line is that it is treatable.
"These social phobias are suffered by people all over the world, from the Maasai tribe in Kenya, to the Inuit."
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics suggest at least 1.9% of adults in the UK suffer from a phobia and according to mental health charity Mind, up to 5% suffer a "social phobia" or more extreme agoraphobia.
Studies in the US suggest up to 13% of the population suffer some sort of phobia.
Extreme fears are separated into specific phobias, which refers to fears of specific items or things, such as animals and objects; generalised phobias, which include agoraphobia, a fear of crowded places; and social phobias, which is a form of extreme shyness and severe fear of social interaction.
Prof Salkovskis said specific phobias, such as the common fear of spiders, snakes and even phenomena such as clouds and thunderstorms, affect around 10% of the British population to the extent it significantly interferes with their everyday lives. …