Most fears or phobias can be traced back to a root cause. These root causes generally fall into three main categories based on what created the original fear. In this article you will learn the three ways in which a fear or phobia can start which should help you to understand more about how your own fear or phobia came about.

A lifelong fear or phobia can usually be traced back to having been caused in one of the following three ways:

1. A Traumatic Experience.
2. Learned Behaviour
3. Psychological Inducement

Let’s take a brief look at each so that you can try and relate them to your own fear or phobia.

1. Traumatic experience
This is probably the most well known cause of fears and phobias and the one that a huge number of people will identify with. Any dramatic experience that puts you in extreme danger, whether real or only imagined, causes your mind and body to experience the fear response of the natural fight or flight survival instinct which can later result in a permanent fear; or the more extreme version of fear a phobia. Our natural method of dealing with traumatic experience is for the conscious mind to initiate a defence system against the shock to avoid sensory overload, while the subconscious mind activates our fight or flight mechanism that prepares the body to deal with the situation.

Once our fight or flight mechanism has activated all of our senses become more acute. This means that everything that is happening during the experience: the sights, sounds, smells, pain etc. normally bombards the mind. This sensory overload can be too much for the conscious mind and so it blocks most of the stimulus coming from the senses from reaching it (this is why many victims of trauma can’t remember much about it afterwards) as a form of protection or mental shield. However, the subconscious mind continues to receive this barrage of information and stores it away in your deeper memory. It is the experience now stored in those deep memories that manifests itself later as a fear or phobia which triggers the exact same body reactions we had during the original traumatic experience.

2. Learned Behaviour
It is quite natural for young children to learn by copying the behaviour of the people they see around them as they grow. Naturally, the close family members are the source of much of that early learned behaviour. However, because of the survival instinct all young children have they also learn a lot about what they should and should not do so as to avoid danger or avert hurting themselves. In the majority of cases this learning is absorbed without the element of fear being too obvious or too emphasised by the adults. However, if the adult or another young person in the family just happens to have a phobia themselves there may be times when the young child witnessed episodes of irrational fear coupled with irrational behaviours such as the mother screaming at the sight of a spider and jumping on a chair.

If a young child is witness to this type of irrational fear and behaviour it is quite possible that these reactions of the adult will be perceived as something the child needs to absorb and imitate as part of it’s learning to avoid danger. If this happens, then the likelihood is that the child will develop the same phobia as the influencing adult. It is quite common for a child to have the same or a similar phobia as the Mother or Father.

3. Psychological Inducement
Psychological inducement is similar to the learned behaviour detailed above except that the child doesn’t witness irrational behaviour by a parent. In this case the fear is instilled into the child by repetition of warnings and/or scolding relating to a particular thing or scenario. For example, a fear of water may be psychologically induced in a young person by a parent trying to protect their child from falling into a nearby river or lake and maybe drowning. The protective nature of the parent may be so strong, i.e. the parent fears harm to the child, that the child is constantly made to fear the water and taught to perceive it as dangerous or life-threatening by the parent.

The result of this type of over-protection is often an irrational fear in the child of even ordinary things and situations. If the warnings are sufficiently powerful and repeated often enough the fear may develop into a full on phobia that the child carries into adulthood.

Because of the rather subtle continuous effect this type of behaviour has on the child neither the parent nor the child may even be aware that a future problem may be developing; until it is too late. In later years, the affected person (and the parent) may have no idea where the fear came from and not understand why they have it.

By knowing about the three causes of fear and phobia described above, you can help to discover the real cause of your own fear by carefully searching your past experiences to see if there is anything that relates to one or more of these three causes. This self-analysis can be a good first step towards a cure for phobias.

Author's Bio: 

To find out how you can take the next positive step to rid yourself of your fears and phobias just follow this link to my Freedom from Fear course where you can download a free sample.

Leslie Meehan helps people like you to overcome this life affecting condition through his Right Mind Health coaching.