Specific or general ?
A phobia can be a fear of just one specific thing, or it can be a fear of a large
number of things of a similar type, or something in between. For example, a fear of
flying is a SPECIFIC phobia, sometimes called a SIMPLE phobia - it normally only
has any relevance when the sufferer is faced with the need to fly. There are a
variety of GENERAL or COMPLEX phobias such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder,
Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia and Social Phobia, and these affect people for a
significant proportion of their lives.
The first step to dealing with a fear of balloons bursting is to answer the
question " is it a SPECIFIC or a GENERAL phobia, or something in between ". In
order to answer this, you need to be aware of any fears that are RELATED to the
worry about balloons bursting - commonly, people with a balloon popping phobia are
also very anxious in situations where ANY unexpected explosion could happen - this
is a MORE GENERAL phobia - anxiety which includes quieter sounds that occur suddenly
can indicate that the phobia is even more general.
It's important to note that it is the fear of the POSSIBILITY OF an explosive sound
that is a phobia - not the REACTION TO it - most of us 'jump' at an unexpected bang
but recover our wits quite quickly, and that is a normal reaction, not a phobia. A
phobic person will become very anxious in a situation where there is chance that an
explosion will take place, or in a situation where an explosion will take place but
it is not known when it will happen.
There is another reaction which is often related to the balloon popping phobia where
the 'jump' causes a high level of anxiety and recovering from the shock takes longer
and anticipation of a further surprise can be upsetting. This can be called 'exaggerated
startle response' and can respond to the same methods as those used to relieve the
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