It has been said that people fear what they do not know. I hold that is only partially true. It may be a tendency but I believe there is a rational about why it can apply. Now my comments are merely observations and a theory itself. I have no science to prove this is actually the case, only experience. Alas, I should at least say what my theory is.
A “phobia” is defined as a strong fear or dislike: an irrational or very powerful fear and dislike of something such as spiders or confined spaces. My theory hinges on the idea of irrationality. I actually believe there is a level of rationality that appears to have been taken out of proportion. For instance I’m afraid of heights, so I can’t go on a Ferris wheel or a roller coaster. However, when I convinced myself to try and go on a Ferris wheel, I noticed when the fear struck me. I found out at what height I could not stand going past; it was the height where I was afraid of falling from. The fear of heights is not so much of the height as it is of the potential fall. When someone looks down, they become more aware of the potential fall. That’s why you tell someone “Don’t look down!” As long as the idea of the fall is not in his head, your friend might be able to handle the height.
The reason for a strong fear to exist is a rational that became extreme. Another way of saying it is the phobia exists because of a real fear that happens to be the primary association of something. Some people might think a Ferris wheel just gives you a nice view. Some associate it with a date. Others like me associate it as something that is liable to break down and have you either stuck for a few hours or break apart, sending you for a long fall. Movies might be the culprit for this rational, but if that is the first time you’ve seen a Ferris wheel, especially as a little kid, that is how you are going to associate it for a long time. The reason why going through it a second time could cure the phobia is because you edit the primary association to that you will not fall or maybe to one of the other things I mentioned not just through rational, but through emotion.
Now for another context. One person can be afraid of snakes and spiders, but be okay with frogs and mushrooms. All could be poisonous and deadly, but a lot of people don’t consider the typical frog to be dangerous. They might first think of Kermit the muppet, the princess and the frog story, or even biology class, but not likely that they will attack or kill you. So there is rational and emotion does amplify it, but there is rational nonetheless. Should we cure ourselves of these? Maybe if it keeps you from being able to function in life or be respectful to others. Otherwise, it does not matter too much, especially when you realize why they are. When you learn why they exist, you might actually develop more respect and considerateness for others. For example, someone might hate belts because they associate belts with abuse.
One last point I have is to address what I meant in the beginning. Most people in their nature do not fear what they do not know. This is proven by the fact that we are generally curious as children. As children, we don’t understand the concept of danger so much and that’s why we need parents. They tell us what they know to be dangerous and try to keep us safe. However, the parents can also be the ones who establish our primary associations with things such as spiders by telling us that they can kill us and reinforcing it. As a result, as we grow older, we grow to be more cautious about things we don’t understand.