PHOBIA. It’s a fancy word for something that really freaks you out.

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No doubt about it. Indiana Jones has a phobia about snakes. What is a phobia? It’s an extreme or unrea­sonable fear of something. About one in ten people have some kind of phobia.

So, what causes phobias? There are many causes, but here’s a common scenario. Let’s say a dog bites you when you’re a little kid. You might get over it. But you might fear dogs—even friendly, harmless ones—for the rest of your life. Now you’ve got a phobia.


Your brain says you’re being silly, but your body says other­wise. How do you know when your fear has reached phobic proportions? Here’s how a phobia might feel—from mild to severe symptoms.

mild You feel like you just ran a road race. Your body is shaking, you V<? panting, and your heart is beating faster and faster.

moderate You’re getting really scared now. You’re dizzy, your palms are sweating, and you feel like you’re having a heart attack.

severe Now you’re really freak­ing out. You can’t move and you feel like you might die!


You may have noticed that phobias have funny-sounding names, like arachnophohia. That’s because the word phobia is Greek for “fear.” So when experts name a phobia, they usually give it a Greek name. For instance, arachnophobia means “fear of arachnids.” That’s Greek for “spiders.” Hundreds of different phobias have been reported. Here are ten of the most common.

Acrophobia: fear of heightsDentophobia: fear of dentists
Aviophobia: fear of flyingEntomophobia: fear of insects
Claustrophobia: fear of cramped spacesHydrophobia: fear of water
Cynophobia: fear of dogsNyctophobia: fear of the dark
Herpetophobia: fear of reptiles or of creepy, crawly thingsMusophobia: fear of mice

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