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A discussion on phobias

We’re all afraid of something. While most of us are satisfied fearing everything in proportion and fearing “normal” things like death, the dark, and spiders, that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, many people have incredibly interesting fears, which are often at the same time quite tragic, since they can keep people from living their lives to the fullest.

There is, for instance, ablutophobia, which is the fear of cleaning oneself or taking a bath. The implications of such a fear are obvious. To struggle with the simple act of doing daily ablutions (the Latin word for the act of washing, which is where the -phobia term comes from), could leave people embarrassed and struggling to succeed in simply getting jobs or making friends.

Another incredible phobia is amaxophobia. “Amaxo” in Greek means “vehicle,” and so, amaxophobia is the fear of riding in a car.

Unlike ablutophobia, many can probably sympathize with those who suffer from amaxophobia. Cars can be scary things, after all. There are car accidents to worry about, pollution, carbon monoxide. There’s also the less obvious but just as deadly possibility of car defects, and that truly is a scary thought to consider.

That thought, though, may hold the key to understanding how the phobia develops. With the idea of mechanical defects, we can immediately understand the horror of the loss of control. We’ve all seen movies in which someone is in a car where the breaks down work. What if the car won’t accelerate? Or won’t stop accelerating?

Such thoughts truly as terrifying, and those who suffer from amaxophobia struggling with them nonstop. It is this powerlessness that terrifies. Crucially, amaxophobia revolves around being a passenger. As a passenger, a person is required to trust completely not just in the car or in other drivers, but in a personal sense, in the one driving the specific car they are in. That is simply a step too far for such people, and any attempt to ride as a passenger leads to great fits of anxiety or worse.

The results of amaxophobia are no less than those for ablutophobia. In countries like America, there are often no other ways to get around than by car. Should such a person life in such an area, they would effectively be marooned at their home, unable to get further than the edge of their neighborhood. In such a situation, work, shopping, and socializing would become almost impossible. The person is trapped.

It is important to remember that phobias are not due to choice. They are the result of previous traumas or else, sometimes, chemical issues in the brain. The person, then, who suffers from ablutophobia, amaxophobia, or some other phobia, has no real choice in the matter.

Thankfully, there are methods of treatment that help people overcome at least partially these handicaps. All the same, they deserve our sympathy, our concern, and our help when we can give it.

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