Phobias: The History and Science of Fear from Hippocrates to Freud to the Present Day

Phobias: The History and Science of Fear from Hippocrates to Freud to the Present Day

by Helen Saul




How are phobias caused? Are they from the thinking mind or the physical brain? Helen Saul demystifies some of our most primal fears in this absorbing guide. 
Obsessional fears, commonly known as phobias, are as widespread as they are deeply rooted. But what are they and what causes them? Hippocrates thought they were caused by an excess of black bile, medieval theologians blamed evil spirits, and Freud thought they resulted from suppressed sexual desire. Through the ages, as many as four out of every ten people are estimated to have had some kind of phobia, but only recently have scientists and doctors made an effort to analyze, define, and offer possible cures. Drawing on vivid examples from history, literature, and personal testimonies, Phobias is the first book to describe case histories, assess theories both ancient and contemporary, and seek to answer all the questions about one of mankind’s oldest medical mysteries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611454703
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 05/01/2012
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Helen Saul is a freelance science and medical journalist and a contributing editor to New Scientist. She is also news editor of the European Journal of Cancer. She lives in Oxford, England, and has never had a phobia.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Fight the Fear 1

The Hidden Epidemic 5

A Few Famous Phobics... 6

...And Some Fictional Ones 8

From Antophobia to Zoophobia 11

Up in the Clouds 15

1 History 17

In the Beginning 17

Cartesian Logic 23

Locke and Empiricism 26

Darwin and the Dawn of Modern Science 28

Freud on Fear 30

Little Albert 34

Computers, Cognitivism, and Progress 37

2 Evolution 39

Living Without Fear 39

Age-Old Anxieties 44

The Evolution of Fear 52

Animal Instincts 59

3 Genetics 71

Icy Fear 71

Three Generations 75

A Family Story 78

Bundles and Blankets 82

Double Trouble 84

Computer Synthesis 87

The Hare and the Tortoise 90

4 Neurophysiology 98

Personal Magnetism 93

Hearts and Minds (and Lungs) 104

A Breath of Fresh Air 108

Ready for Anything 112

Adrenaline 115

Sleep No More 117

Caffeine High 119

States and Traits 120

5 Behavior 126

Triumph over Phobia 126

Self-Help 133

Do It Yourself 136

Fight Fear with Fear 138

A Bitter Pill 140

Behavior Therapy - The Easy Way? 142

Courage Under Fire 144

Why Does It Work? 148

6 Cognition 150

Testing 150

Spiraling out of Control 156

Squaring the Circle 161

Disgust 163

Risk Assessment 170

Know Yourself 174

7 Personality and Temperament 177

Three-Dimensional Personalities 177

The Inner Child 182

Family Likeness 189

Inhibition, Fear, and Phobias 192

Triple Jeopardy 199

Challenging Fate 200

8 Gender and Hormones 205

A Pregnant Pause 205

The Numbers Game 211

Teamwork 216

Migraine and Marriage 219

Girl Power 223

9 Light and Electromagnetism 226

Mary's Story 226

Magnets and Migration 230

Strip Lights and Seizures 235

Alternative Applications 239

Any Answers? 242

10 A Physical Problem? 246

The Inner Ear 246

Palpitations 250

Dyslexia and a Lack of Balance 255

Conclusion 262

Into the Future 262

The Next Hundred Years 264

Breaking Down Barriers 274

Further Reading 281

Information and Contacts 297

Index 299

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