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Author Topic: do our children learn our fears and phobias?  (Read 11487 times)

paul.fr

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« on: 22/06/2007 23:08:00 »
Stuck for where to post this.

Any way, do our children learn our fears and phobias? If we show a dislike or fear of something do our kids pick up on this and learn to fear the same thing?
Why?
« Last Edit: 22/06/2007 23:09:55 by paul.fr »


 

paul.fr

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #1 on: 22/06/2007 23:37:22 »
ooh, just quickly. Can we accidently trigger a childs phobia / fear? Say of the dark, by leaving a light on when they go to bed?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #2 on: 22/06/2007 23:41:40 »
According to Don Dossey, we are born with only 2 fears; these being falling and loud noises - all others being learned. I'm not sure I agree with Dr Dossey, but I won't go into my reasons here.

I have a phobia of climbing free-standing ladders. I get to about the 5th rung and my body just seizes. No matter how hard I try, my feet will simply not go up another rung. I'm not scared of heights. I used to do rock climbing, I've been 100ft up scaffolding, & just recently I was in a cage 200ft above the ground.

I haven't always had this phobia, and I can't even say when it first started. I remember when I was in my mid-20s, my next door neighbour locked herself out of her house & I quite happily got a ladder & climbed in through her upstairs window. I've never had an accident on a ladder, but these days I almost literally cr*p myself on them.

But back to your question. I don't believe phobias can be learned. Phobias are irrational fears. If we could point to a reason for the phobia, such as it having been learned from a parent, it wouldn't be irrational and, hence, not a phobia.

Fears are possibly a different matter. If we constantly have it drummed into us when we are young that so-and-so is scary, it is quite likely we will grow up believing that to be so. I would point to religion as a classic case of learned fears - be good or you'll go to Hell, etc.

Maybe when we are old enough to think for ourselves, we will realise the fear is silly; but sometimes it can be so deeply impressed that it is next to impossible to shake it off.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #3 on: 23/06/2007 14:41:44 »
Last I heard, even the fear of falling was learned.
OK, I have to ask...
You said "just recently I was in a cage 200ft above the ground."
Why?
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #4 on: 23/06/2007 20:48:23 »
According to Don Dossey, we are born with only 2 fears; these being falling and loud noises - all others being learned. I'm not sure I agree with Dr Dossey, but I won't go into my reasons here.

I have a phobia of climbing free-standing ladders. I get to about the 5th rung and my body just seizes. No matter how hard I try, my feet will simply not go up another rung. I'm not scared of heights. I used to do rock climbing, I've been 100ft up scaffolding, & just recently I was in a cage 200ft above the ground.

I haven't always had this phobia, and I can't even say when it first started. I remember when I was in my mid-20s, my next door neighbour locked herself out of her house & I quite happily got a ladder & climbed in through her upstairs window. I've never had an accident on a ladder, but these days I almost literally cr*p myself on them.

Maybe you saw some else hurt themselves on a ladder, or could it be transference?

But back to your question. I don't believe phobias can be learned. Phobias are irrational fears. If we could point to a reason for the phobia, such as it having been learned from a parent, it wouldn't be irrational and, hence, not a phobia.

Surely, that makes no sense, just because you can point to a reason for a phobia, hardly makes the phobia rational!

Fears are possibly a different matter. If we constantly have it drummed into us when we are young that so-and-so is scary, it is quite likely we will grow up believing that to be so. I would point to religion as a classic case of learned fears - be good or you'll go to Hell, etc.

Sadly some in the church think that helps keep people involved; I agree its stupid and silly.

Maybe when we are old enough to think for ourselves, we will realise the fear is silly; but sometimes it can be so deeply impressed that it is next to impossible to shake it off.

Thats just a matter of working to remove it surely, some things may take longer than others but anything learnd can and should be possible to unlearn, it is just a matter of time, effort and knowing how to do it.

Stuck for where to post this.

Any way, do our children learn our fears and phobias? If we show a dislike or fear of something do our kids pick up on this and learn to fear the same thing?
Why?

I think they can do, could be a part of natural learning, when in the wild the young learn what to fear from their parents in order to protect themselves!

We certainly pick up habbits, but phobias is probably more difficult as they are extreme,

A child would´nt have suffered the same trama that caused the parent to have the phobia, so the child may at first copy the behaviour of a phobic parent but probably would´nt maintain it into adulthood.
 
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #5 on: 23/06/2007 21:13:28 »
ooh, just quickly. Can we accidently trigger a childs phobia / fear? Say of the dark, by leaving a light on when they go to bed?

Think beaver should answer this one, it will ofcourse depend on the parent and on the child. But Trigger is a bad word; it suggests that a phobia aready exsists and the parent does somthing, to cause a phobic reaction in the child.
Surely you mean: can a parent cause or give a child a phobia.
 

Offline kdlynn

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« Reply #6 on: 24/06/2007 05:42:50 »
i think when children are young and can't think for themselves then they do share their parents fears. i was terrified of dogs for years because my mom was afraid of them. she was attacked when she was young. i got a little older and met some dogs, and i like dogs now. when i was little, all i knew was to be afraid of them
 

another_someone

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #7 on: 25/06/2007 02:30:23 »
Children learn by observing their parents, and are very sensitive (as any animal is) to the emotional state of the people around them (particularly their parents).  If their parent is in a situation that makes them uneasy or nervous, then the child is likely to pick this up, and become nervous simply because their parent is nervous (i.e. the nervousness is contagious).  Part of this is also the process by which a child learns how to obtain its parents approval (i.e. what makes their parent angry, and what makes them show approval), but the same cues will indicate to the child what makes the parent angry or afraid of the world around them just as it will show the child what make the parent angry or nervous of what the child is doing.

Ofcourse, as Kadie has indicated, later in life the child will re-evaluate some of this early learned behaviours.  At this point, the child will start to rebel both against the authority of the parent (i.e. it will no longer as actively seek the approval of the parent), as well as questioning some of the fears of the parent (i.e. when the parent becomes nervous when the child stays out late, the child will no longer copy that fear).
 

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« Reply #8 on: 25/06/2007 21:31:08 »
Quote
Quote
Quote from: DoctorBeaver on 23/06/2007 00:41:40
But back to your question. I don't believe phobias can be learned. Phobias are irrational fears. If we could point to a reason for the phobia, such as it having been learned from a parent, it wouldn't be irrational and, hence, not a phobia.

Surely, that makes no sense, just because you can point to a reason for a phobia, hardly makes the phobia rational!

I'm speaking as a psychologist. Phobias are an irrational fear. In most cases they cause more just a simple fear; they cause the sufferer to be terrified. But what differentiates a phobia from a dread fear is that there appears to be no reason for a phobia. The sufferer cannot point to any particular reason why they are so terrified. If a reason can be identified, that makes it a fear not a phobia.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #9 on: 25/06/2007 21:32:33 »
ooh, just quickly. Can we accidently trigger a childs phobia / fear? Say of the dark, by leaving a light on when they go to bed?

Think beaver should answer this one, it will ofcourse depend on the parent and on the child. But Trigger is a bad word; it suggests that a phobia aready exsists and the parent does somthing, to cause a phobic reaction in the child.
Surely you mean: can a parent cause or give a child a phobia.

Many things can trigger a fear so it's possible that this could be a cause in some cases.
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #10 on: 25/06/2007 21:47:12 »
Quote
Quote
Quote from: DoctorBeaver on 23/06/2007 00:41:40
But back to your question. I don't believe phobias can be learned. Phobias are irrational fears. If we could point to a reason for the phobia, such as it having been learned from a parent, it wouldn't be irrational and, hence, not a phobia.

Surely, that makes no sense, just because you can point to a reason for a phobia, hardly makes the phobia rational!

I'm speaking as a psychologist. Phobias are an irrational fear. In most cases they cause more just a simple fear; they cause the sufferer to be terrified. But what differentiates a phobia from a dread fear is that there appears to be no reason for a phobia. The sufferer cannot point to any particular reason why they are so terrified. If a reason can be identified, that makes it a fear not a phobia.

Agreed, my point was that really neither are rational, but you can ofcourse have rational fears, well maybe.

ooh, just quickly. Can we accidently trigger a childs phobia / fear? Say of the dark, by leaving a light on when they go to bed?

Think beaver should answer this one, it will ofcourse depend on the parent and on the child. But Trigger is a bad word; it suggests that a phobia aready exsists and the parent does somthing, to cause a phobic reaction in the child.
Surely you mean: can a parent cause or give a child a phobia.

Many things can trigger a fear so it's possible that this could be a cause in some cases.

I wonder it might be construed semantic but, trigger to me suggests something which causes an aready exsisting phobia to exert itself, surely give or cause are better words here.

Triggering fear which then expands to be become a phobia. The trigger is not the cause of the phobia, the cause of the phobia comes after the fear surely, in terms of bad management in the resolution of the fear, the trigger there is an irrelevance surely; its a coping issue.

What do you think?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #11 on: 25/06/2007 21:53:38 »
I think, yes, this is a question of semantics. There could be a latent fear that gets triggered by an event, or the word "trigger" could be interpreted as "reason".

For instance, if you have a crowd of demonstrators, 1 person throwing a brick could instigate others to do the same. That doesn't necessarily mean they all went equipped with bricks or with any intent to throw them; the 1st brick thrown is the cause - the trigger - for the throwing of others. The subsequent throwing is a spontaneous reaction that was triggered by the 1st brick.

Or take wildebeest. The appearance of a lion can trigger a stampede because the fear is already there.

I'm not sure whether a fear can become a phobia. As I said before, a phobia has no identifiable cause.

The problem is that the common understanding of phobia differs from the clinical definition. What many people class as a phobia is not a phobia, but a dread fear.

Take a fear of flying (not the book by Erica Jung!). A lot of people will claim to have a phobia of flying but, when it is examined, it is because they are scared of the plane crashing. As such, it is not a phobia because a reason for it can be identified.
« Last Edit: 25/06/2007 22:01:19 by DoctorBeaver »
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #12 on: 25/06/2007 22:10:11 »
I think, yes, this is a question of semantics. There could be a latent fear that gets triggered by an event, or the word "trigger" could be interpreted as "reason".

For instance, if you have a crowd of demonstrators, 1 person throwing a brick could instigate others to do the same. That doesn't necessarily mean they all went equipped with bricks or with any intent to throw them; the 1st brick thrown is the cause - the trigger - for the throwing of others. The subsequent throwing is a spontaneous reaction that was triggered by the 1st brick.

Or take wildebeest. The appearance of a lion can trigger a stampede because the fear is already there.

I'm not sure whether a fear can become a phobia. As I said before, a phobia has no identifiable cause.

The problem is that the common understanding of phobia differs from the clinical definition. What many people class as a phobia is not a phobia, but a dread fear.

Take a fear of flying (not the book by Erica Jung!). A lot of people will claim to have a phobia of flying but, when it is examined, it is because they are scared of the plane crashing. As such, it is not a phobia because a reason for it can be identified.

You say phobia has no identifiable cause but surely in the past, causes for phobias were found so they stoped being phobias; and one psycologist might not be able to find a cause and so considers a dread fear a phobia, where another can find a cause and so its no longer a phobia.

Surely in the end all phobias have a cause, the trick is to find them. 
 

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« Reply #13 on: 25/06/2007 22:17:37 »
Yeah, sure, it's quite possible there is a reason that is hard to find. Then again, there are those who believe that everything has a cause.

If I may, I'll introduce a definition of phobia that I think more-accurately explains it - "persistent irrational fear of an activity or object. The fear is out of proportion of the reality of the threat".

That may not be in strict accord with the clinical definition, but, personally, I prefer it.
 

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« Reply #14 on: 25/06/2007 22:26:08 »
I agree with Jollys last post. For there not to be a reason for a fear or phobia it would have to be something inhernet in us, correct? As many other posters said fears are something learned, yet phobias are not.

I personally dont beleive that phobias are irrational to the phobic person, to you and me yes, but to the person who is terrified, they feel completly justified in their reactions. For instance I knew a woman who was completly terrified of clowns, I would classify it as a phobia. At a childs friends birthday party (this woman was in her late 30's or 40's) they had a clown. This woman was screaming, drooling, in a corner shaking and convulsing, to me it was an absolute nervous breakdown. Thats a phobia, isnt it??? Now something would have to make her react like that. Something had to,something that happened in her life. I don't think that just because there is a probable reason for her fears that they should be taken at a lesser degree.. She has a problem

Oh and if anyone is interested I am terrified of birds... sea gulls and crows especially. I connect it with the fact that I watched the Omen series f movies and Birds in the same weekend when i was 6. Granted mine is a fear not a phobia but thats not to say that I could eventually become phobic of birds, the mind is a crazy thing. Especially the places it will lead you to.
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #15 on: 25/06/2007 22:36:42 »
Yeah, sure, it's quite possible there is a reason that is hard to find. Then again, there are those who believe that everything has a cause.

If I may, I'll introduce a definition of phobia that I think more-accurately explains it - "persistent irrational fear of an activity or object. The fear is out of proportion of the reality of the threat".

That may not be in strict accord with the clinical definition, but, personally, I prefer it.

I would be one of those...Lol

I agree with Jollys last post. For there not to be a reason for a fear or phobia it would have to be something inhernet in us, correct? As many other posters said fears are something learned, yet phobias are not.

I personally dont beleive that phobias are irrational to the phobic person, to you and me yes, but to the person who is terrified, they feel completly justified in their reactions. For instance I knew a woman who was completly terrified of clowns, I would classify it as a phobia. At a childs friends birthday party (this woman was in her late 30's or 40's) they had a clown. This woman was screaming, drooling, in a corner shaking and convulsing, to me it was an absolute nervous breakdown. Thats a phobia, isnt it??? Now something would have to make her react like that. Something had to,something that happened in her life. I don't think that just because there is a probable reason for her fears that they should be taken at a lesser degree.. She has a problem

Oh and if anyone is interested I am terrified of birds... sea gulls and crows especially. I connect it with the fact that I watched the Omen series f movies and Birds in the same weekend when i was 6. Granted mine is a fear not a phobia but thats not to say that I could eventually become phobic of birds, the mind is a crazy thing. Especially the places it will lead you to.

Well the fact you have or at least think you have found a cause- probably gives you a leg up in dealing with it, and I seriously doubt that could turn into a phobia.

As far as the other lady sounds like she had a bad experience at the circus or watched I.T and never recovered. Could be anything though, it´s always easy to say the circus, but it could come from somewhere totally unrelated, like something bad happened and at the same time she saw a photo of a clown.
 

Offline elegantlywasted

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« Reply #16 on: 25/06/2007 22:47:07 »
Yah she definalty must have had a traumitizing experience involvng a clown. But her reaction was completly irrational. I mean this woman was one step away from peeing herself thats how scared she was. I have never before or since seen anyone react that way to anything.
 

paul.fr

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #17 on: 25/06/2007 22:50:53 »
Yah she definalty must have had a traumitizing experience involvng a clown. But her reaction was completly irrational. I mean this woman was one step away from peeing herself thats how scared she was. I have never before or since seen anyone react that way to anything.

lots of people are afraid/phobic of clowns, one person i knew how was afraid of clowns blamed it on her parents filing her bedroom with lovely, cuddly clowns.

infact the clowns scared the life out of her when she went to bed and was often too scared to go to sleep.
 

jolly

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do our children learn our fears and phobias?
« Reply #18 on: 25/06/2007 22:55:26 »
Yah she definalty must have had a traumitizing experience involvng a clown. But her reaction was completly irrational. I mean this woman was one step away from peeing herself thats how scared she was. I have never before or since seen anyone react that way to anything.

Well wait are you sure it was a phobic reaction? I mean if it was a one off it might not count, maybe he saw the clown and thought ´Oh no, it´s that guy I slept with last thursday´
 

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« Reply #19 on: 25/06/2007 22:59:22 »
haha... ive had a few coyote ugly moments myself but never a reaction that strong!!!
 

jolly

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« Reply #20 on: 25/06/2007 23:02:03 »
haha... ive had a few coyote ugly moments myself but never a reaction that strong!!!

Not saying fact, just maybe, I mean do you remember what he looked like?
 

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« Reply #21 on: 25/06/2007 23:16:38 »
Curly red hair, big nose, white face... Although I dont think I would run from a man who wore that size of shoe ;)
 

jolly

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« Reply #22 on: 25/06/2007 23:23:19 »
Curly red hair, big nose, white face... Although I dont think I would run from a man who wore that size of shoe ;)

LOL, most would though it appears..... They say clowns are a depressed bunch, maybe thats why. So much potencial to bring happiness and the ladies run away...... just tragic!

And the clowns cant keep up- even if they wanted to.
« Last Edit: 26/06/2007 20:49:59 by jolly »
 

jolly

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« Reply #23 on: 28/06/2007 23:30:34 »
Wait a min "This woman was screaming, drooling, in a corner shaking and convulsing" Now that could be flashback to a good nite- Maybe she remembered mr clown and had to go off to calm down (sorry if you think that doesnt happen)!

What do you think beaver? Could it have been a flashback? 
 

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« Reply #24 on: 29/06/2007 02:06:27 »
I love clowns...LOL.. But know many who fear them or were frightened by them as children!
 

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