Fear and phobia can be easily confused for one another as they are directly related as fear is the feeling that is associated with suffering from a phobia. However, they are distinct terms that define different reactions to stimuli. The purpose of this article is to define those terms so that they can be easily told apart.
|Emotional response||Emotional disorder|
|Normal and rational||Abnormal and irrational|
|Only present when threatening stimuli is present||Present consistently over a period of at least 6 months|
|Measured and often manageable||Extreme and frequently unmanageable|
|Butterflies in the stomach, fast breathing, fast pulse, nervousness, muscle tension, alertness, goosebumps||Same symptoms as fear but more severe. Can result in distress, panic attacks, fainting, or chest pains|
Fear can be understood as the emotional response one feels when confronted with a stimulus that is threatening, dangerous, or painful. It can result in feelings of nervousness, having goosebumps, feeling as if you butterflies in your stomach, a heightened state of alertness, feeling tense, and quickened breathing. The response should last only as long as the feared stimulus is present.
Phobia is by definition irrational, the stimulus that is being responded to can be rational (though often is not) but is not always present. A phobia is a disorder whereby the sufferer has a sustained sensation of being fearful even at the thought of the feared stimulus and is consistently present for at least a period of 6 months. The emotional response is nearly identical to that of fear but is often, even more, severe and can result in fainting, panic attacks, and chest pains.
Fear VS Phobia
The primary difference between fear and phobia can be understood as the reasonableness of the response and the duration. For example, an individual can be afraid of poisonous spiders when there is one present and this would be considered having a normal fear response whereas if an individual has arachnophobia they will be in far deeper distress and can suffer from the phobia when there are no spiders present.