105. Agoraphobia


Fear is an ancient and universal emotion in Man. Fear may be due to one of these two reasons: – fear of losing what we do not want to lose and the fear of getting what we do not want to get. Fear gives rise to two possible actions, Fight or Flight. When we are confident that we can handle the situation, we fight and when the situation looks hopeless, we take to flight.

Fear is accompanied by a host of disturbing symptoms like the flushing of the face, increased heart beat and muscular activity. The body prepares itself for the fight or flight. Some of our fears are inexplicable, unfounded, and irrational. These fears affect our day to day life very badly.

A systematic avoidance of a situation, leading to a fear, is called a Phobia. A phobia is a panic reaction caused by certain stimuli or situations in some persons. Phobia can be due to any reason, an object as small as a spider or one as large as a sky scraper.

Agoraphobia is the irrational fear of ‘Agora’ or the open space. In ancient Greece, this was the place where market was located. Though Agoraphobia is the fear of going to an open place outside the house, this may modify into other forms such as leaving the safety one’s house, traveling alone without a companion, being in the middle of a huge crowd and standing in long serpentine queues.

People, who suffer from this phobia, become anxious in unfamiliar surroundings and places on which they have very little control. They may feel trapped and insecure–away from the comfort zone of their home. Though they may not like to leave their house, they are delighted to receive the guests at the safety on their homes.

Agoraphobia is twice as common in women as in men. In general, Women avoid facing difficult situations and let the men folk cope up with these hardships and hurdles. Men who try drown their fears and anxieties in drinks and become branded as alcoholics.But women seek help for the actual problems and try to get out of their phobias.

The opposite of Agoraphobia is Claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed space. People who suffer from this phobia will fear getting trapped in a traffic jam, inside a lift cabin and in shopping places full of strangers.

Visalakshi Ramani

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