Fear is an essential emotion for survival. Nowadays, there are certain people who seem wired to ignore their sense of fear completely and push it (and themselves)to the edge. They are often referred to as “thrill seekers” or “adrenaline junkies”. It’s not that they have a death wish. Although the chemical reactions to fear are the same for everyone, they handle the emotion of fear in a different way.
When faced with a threat, our body immediately jumps into fight or flight mode. What happens essentially is the unneeded organs take a step back reserving energy for the vital ones. The body releases high amounts of adrenaline raises the heart rate along with breathing and increases sweating. This is exactly what happens to a phobic when confronted with their source of fear. Evidently, this would be quite troublesome in their day to day life.
Neuro Chemicals in each of us distinguishes those who control, even, enjoy their fear from those who are controlled by it. Depending on levels of dopamine and testosterone, some may be inclined to, say, jump off a plane, therefore, risking their lives on the chance their parachute works. Without a doubt, a person with a phobia of heights would not even consider getting on the plane. Different people handle the emotion of fear in various ways creating the extremes on both ends of the spectrum.
There is not one cause that triggers a phobia. Experience, trauma feeling a lack of control can all lead to the same destination. Phobias are also learnt; hence culture, society and peers have a role in the cultivation of phobias. During our younger years, is when we are most susceptible to others thoughts and feelings. This means we will often acquire our phobias at a young age.
Thrill seekers never seek thrills from the same place twice. They get bored quickly. If they have done something more than once with the same outcome, it doesn't feel as risky. For this reason, repeated exposure is used to cure people with phobias. The idea is that if they continuously face their fear, it will eventually feel ordinary. Systematic Desensitization is another form of treatment which is completed in three stages. The first being deep muscle relaxation to discourage negative emotions and stress. Stage 2 is completing the fear hierarchy. The patient must either imagine or be exposed to their fear repeatedly however each time it gets worse. For example, the first time they would simply think about it then look at a picture of the object and next have the object in the same room. This continues until step 3 which is to do step 1 and 2 at the same time.
If you’re looking to treat a phobia, please do not try any of these techniques on your own. If they are carried out incorrectly, it can easily make the situation worse. It is also important to have the support needed from someone trusted and knowledgeable.