Phobias are the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting about 10% of all adults, and many of them can be highly debilitating. They are a type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation, leaving some people unable to function in ordinary life. You have likely heard of acrophobia (fear of heights), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces). But have you heard of ephebiphobia (fear of teenagers), mageirocophobia (fear of cooking), or phobophobia (a fear of phobias)? The list goes on. Why do people develop phobias? Are some more susceptible than others? What mechanisms in the brain are in play when phobias strike and what does research reveal about effective treatments? This event discussed why phobias arise, the damage they can do, and how best to treat them.
Joseph E. Ledoux, Ph.D.
Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science, New York University
Daniel S. Pine, M.D.
Chief, Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH