Fear protects you from danger and has been the most powerful tool in the preservation of human civilization. When it moves on to become a phobia, however, it can have a debilitating effect. A phobia has little to do with danger. It’s an intense but irrational fear which is unwarranted but also uncontrollable, and often you require therapy to climb out of these fears, which are more common than you would think.

Claustrophobia is a fear we all experience at one time or another, being crushed in a crowded elevator or having no elbow-space in a busy marketplace leaves us all frantic for breathing space. The fear of being enclosed in a cramped space is the most common psychological state of panic.

Does the thought of flying strike terror in your heart? If so, chances are you suffer from Aerophobia. The trigger for this fear is usually a previous experience with in-flight turbulence or a transference of emotion from a frightened passenger sitting next to you. It could also be the result of watching a film or TV program related to air disaster. Whatever the cause, this phobia can be physically very limiting and you need to seek help to get over it.

Paranormal phobia is often the result of an overactive imagination bolstered by childhood stories of witches, demons and ghosts lingering on in memory even after you grow up. It is usually connected to a fear of the dark too, which makes you afraid to walk down an unlit street, expecting a ghoul to jump up from behind every tree.

We all have that friend who can’t look down a steep staircase without feeling dizzy. Acrophobia, or the fear of heights, is a very common phenomenon. People who are victims of it cannot bear to climb up to heights, and even if they do, looking down is unbearable for them. Paralyzed with fear, they often become glued to the spot, fearing calamity if they so much as lift a foot.

According to the American Counseling Association, phobias connected with blood-injury-injections have grown dramatically since awareness about HIV has become more common. Hemophobia (fear of blood) and Trypanophobia (fear of injections) strike many people, even doctors. The scene in the movie where the medical student drops in a faint is more true-to-life than you know.