Specific Phobia

Resources for Patients and Caregivers

Specific phobia is an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Although adults with phobias may realize that these fears are irrational, even thinking about facing the feared object or situation brings on severe anxiety symptoms.


Cluster Number:
Wiki Number: 46 Specific Phobia
US Patients: 10% extreme avoidance of someone or something
World Patients: 12% sometime in life
Sex Ratio: M1;W2
Age Onset: Children diagnosed with a specific phobia are likely to have life-long psychological problems.
Brain Area:May have inceased autonomic nervous-muscle tension, sweating or desire to leave the situation.
Symptoms: an anxiety disorder with irrational fear linked to a specific object or situation.
Progression: These affect work, daily routines and relationships. They may show discomfort, fear or panic.
Medications: Some medications are used.
Therapies: cognitive, exposure, flooding, modeling, or systematic desensitization.

Resources for Physicians, Counselors and Researchers


The world-wide medical research
reports chosen for each diagnosis 

Clicking each title opens the
PubMed article’s summary-abstract.

  • Girls' Stuff? Maternal Gender Stereotypes and Their Daughters' Fear
    by Antje B M Gerdes on January 24, 2022

    One of the most robust findings in psychopathology is the fact that specific phobias are more prevalent in women than in men. Although there are several theoretical accounts for biological and social contributions to this gender difference, empirical data are surprisingly limited. Interestingly, there is evidence that individuals with stereotypical feminine characteristics are more fearful than those with stereotypical masculine characteristics; this is beyond biological sex. Because gender role...

  • Prevalence and Correlates of Physical-mental Multimorbidity in Outpatient Children From a Pediatric Hospital in Canada
    by Mark A Ferro on January 21, 2022

    CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that six-month multimorbidity is common and similar across different physical illnesses. Level of disability is a robust, potentially modifiable correlate of multimorbidity that can be assessed routinely by health professionals in the pediatric setting to initiate early mental health intervention to reduce the incidence of multimorbidity in children.

  • Psychiatric comorbidity associated with weight status in 9 to 10 year old children
    by Kathryn E Smith on January 20, 2022

    CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest cross-sectional associations among negative emotionality, binge eating, and OW/OB, and highlight the need for ongoing prospective research to investigate directionality of associations and mechanisms of effects.

  • What you don't know can help you: An activating placebo effect in spider phobia
    by Paul Siegel on January 20, 2022

    Despite being an inert treatment, placebo has been repeatedly shown to induce the experience of automatic symptom relief, a therapeutic effect over which a person has no control. We tested whether a placebo that participants believed was an active drug would induce them to take action to overcome their symptomatic impairment, a self-efficacious role we term an activating placebo effect. Specifically, we tested whether a placebo presented to spider-phobic participants as a fear-reducing drug...