Specific phobias are non-social and may also be referred to as “simple” or “isolated” phobias because the trigger for the fear is something specific and identifiable. Very often, such a fear can indeed be quite simple, as with arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and the phobic individual may suffer from more than one phobia or have several closely related conditions at the same time.

It is not unusual, for instance, for a germophobe to also have a fear of particular pests that might carry disease or fears of particular diseases. The arachnophobe might also be a germophobe, and someone who fears mice or rats could easily also fear rabies, germs, etc.

In any case, the diagnosis of a true phobia requires that the fear be irrational, that the individual recognizes that their fear is abnormal, that the issue be a long-standing one (on the order of six months or more) and that the sufferer actively avoids the source of their fear.

The DSM-5 recognizes five subtypes of specific phobia: Animal, natural environment, blood-injection-injury and situational. The fifth category, “other,” includes specific phobias that do not fit into one of the other four categories. Examples:

Animal – fear of spiders, snakes, dogs, cats

Environment – fear of heights, water, storms

Injury – fear of blood, injections, sharp objects

Situational – driving, airplanes, enclosed spaces

Other – specific fears that aren’t listed above, such as a fear of loud noises or a fear of costumed characters

Back to What are Phobias?

Next – What is agoraphobia?

Learn More About…

Causes of phobias    –    Symptoms of phobias    –    Treatments for phobias