The Wikipedia dictionary describes a phobia as;
A type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation. The phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months. The affected person will go to great lengths to avoid the situation or object, typically to a degree greater than the actual danger posed. If the feared object or situation cannot be avoided, the affected person will have significant distress. With blood or injury phobia, fainting may occur. Agoraphobia is often associated with panic attacks.
My experience tells me that the majority of phobias are created during childhood and continue to manifest throughout life. It is interesting to note that what would scare a child would not scare an adult but this is exactly what is happening.
Phobias can be divided into specific phobias, for example social phobia, and agoraphobia. Types of specific phobias include those to certain animals, natural environment situations, blood or injury, and specific situations. My clients most common phobias are, but not limited to; fear of spiders, snakes and reptiles, birds, heights, blood and needles, cockroaches, flying, claustrophobia and social anxiety. Occasionally they are triggered by a negative experience with the object or situation. Social phobia is when the situation is feared as the person is worried about others judging them. Agoraphobia is when fear of a situation occurs because it is felt that escape would not be possible.
There are phobias that may appear to you as totally bizarre but to the afflicted it may be deeply disturbing for example I once had a chef that came to see with a big fear of cheese, now obviously virtue of the fact he was a chef this was very debilitating. Among other strange phobias I have successfully dealt with are king prawns, passion fruit and oranges.
Specific phobias maybe treated with exposure therapy where the person is introduced to the situation or object in question until the fear resolves. Medications are not useful in this type of phobia. Social phobia and agoraphobia are often treated with a combination of hypnotherapy counselling and medication.
The extracts from my TV shows below will give you my working examples of relief from just a few phobias that I have treated.