What is and what isn’t a phobia.




Eating peanut butter and the odd case of the spotless garage.


“I have a phobia about peanut butter. I hate the way it sticks to the roof of my mouth” Jenny stated. “Ugh” she added, purchasepurchase seekseek shuddering and shaking her head at the thought.

“A phobia?” Claire asked

“Oh yes an absolute phobia. I really hate it. Even just the thought of eating peanut butter and getting it stuck … ugh!” Jenny replied as she shook her head again making a disgusted face as she did so.

“Wow you hate it that much?” Claire enquired smiling warmly at her friend.

“Yes that much” as she pulled a face again.


“Do you find that you think about it much, helphelp unhealthyunhealthy Jenny?” Claire asked

“No not really. Unless of course someone offered me a peanut butter sandwich, then I might.”

“Oh ok and if you saw a peanut butter sandwich” Claire paused “what would you do?”

Jenny looked puzzled “Not much as long as no one forced it on me”.

“Ok and how does this affect your life?”

“Claire you're teasing me. It doesn’t really affect my life at all. I just don’t want to eat peanut butter as I don’t like the sensation.”

“Then my dear, you do not have a phobia. You might not like it, but not liking peanut butter is not the same as having a phobia you know.” Claire stated.

“Oh, er so what is a phobia if that isn’t one then?” Jenny asked.



“Well you know Karen from number 43?”

“Yes what about her?” Jenny replied, eagerly. Delighted that she might be about to get some juicy gossip about the odd woman across the road.

“Well have you seen her in her garage?”

“No why”

“You watch next time she goes into her garage. Just see what happens.”

“Claire!” Jenny exclaimed “I can’t wait that long. Tell me. Now or I’ll explode!”

“Ok firstly their garage isn’t like yours or mine – it’s spotless and there is absolutely no junk and it's cleaner than our kitchens and she never ever goes onto it!”

“How does she keep it spotless then?” Jenny asked

“Her son has to keep it clean”

“Oooo really. Go on do tell me more?”

“She has a small piece of rope that she pulls the car out with. She never ever drives it out. You will never see her actually in the garage.”

“Nooooo. But why? That’s really odd”


Claire look directly at her friend “Spiders. She is a total arachnophobic.”


“Yes a phobia of spiders. The main thing about a phobia that make them different from just a fear or a dislike is how intense the reaction is to the feared object or situatuion. A phobia means that the individual has an irrational, intense, obsessive and excessive desire to avoid the object or situation. In Karen’s case, spiders; she won’t even go in her own garage and makes her son keep it spotless just in case there is a spider there.”

“Oh I had no idea” Jenny replied, clearly shocked.

“Yes a phobia rules your entire life and controls what you will and wont do; all the time.”

“How awful”

“Exactly. So whilst you might not like peanut butter I don’t think it’s a phobia for you.”

Jenny looked at Claire. “When you put it like that…”


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