Dealing with Phobia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’am a 23 years old male who has a phobia problem. I was wondering if you can help me with my problem. I’ve had this problem for quite a while now but, i’m too embarrassed to share it with anyone because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m some kind of weird person. A few years ago, I watched a movie called saw (film), this movie has so much torture and gory scenes that I couldn’t even watched it properly. I don’t know how anyone could watched and enjoy people being tortured. I wanted to stop watching it but, couldn’t because I paid for the movie ( didn’t want to waste my money) and because I didn’t want my friend to think that I was a scaredy cat. But ever since I watched this movie, I’ve always had a phobia for saws, knives, anything sharp or anything that can be used to torture people. This phobia that I have is affecting my life, I can’t enjoy my life. When I want to do something, it is so hard for me to focus because those images are always in my mind. Just a few weeks ago my sister and my mom shared a video to me, the movie ( or documentary ) was called 127 hours where a boulder fell on a man’s arm and the man had to cut it inorder to saved his life. I could’t even watched this movie, I decided to just read the rest of the story on the internet. This movie made my phobia worst. I can’t stop thinking about the man’s situation. What if I’m in that situation? Will I be able to do what he did? Or How about a scene from saw where a man was chained from his ankle and he had to cut his ankle with a sharp rock in order to save his life and his love ones. Will I be able to do that if my love ones or friends were in danger? So these are things that are always running inside my head. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t even help my mom cook because it always terrifies me when my mom cuts meat. I also have a fear of very enclosed and tight spaces, I don’t know why. Maybe I saw a scene in SAW where a man was imprisoned on a tight space or maybe it was another torture movie, I don’t remeber. i don’t like to watched gory or torture movies but, sometimes there are movies that are not about torturing but there are 1 or 2 scene where a person is tortured. Whatever it is, these problems with sharp objects, torure scenerios and enclosed places must stop but I don’t know how. It’s really effecting my life, I always think about it, when I wake up to the time I go back to sleep. There is always this kind of fear of being put in scenerios where I have no choice but to cut my limbs. I even think about impossible scenerios or scenerios that most likely would never happened like for example a WOULD YOU RATHER SCENERIOS. One of the things that came in my head was, would you rather be alone for the rest of your life with no one to talk to ( no friends, no family, no girlfriend ) or be with the people who you love but there is a catch, you have to cut your whole leg with a small knife. So this is the kind of things that are always running through my head. Can you please help me, I don’t know what to do.

A. What you may have described is anxiety, and more specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. The main fear involved with OCD is loss of control. The movies frightened you and specifically led you to fear specific objects. You might fear those objects because you feel as though you may lose control and accidentally use those tools to harm yourself or someone else. Individuals who fear losing control attempt to overmanage aspects of their immediate environment.

The best way to combat fear is to realistically assess the danger in every situation. For instance, you worry about the possibility of being in a situation in which you’re going to have to remove a part of your body. The probability of that happening is extremely low yet you believe it to be a realistic possibility.

When you find yourself obsessed with particular thoughts, it would be helpful to distract yourself. You might try calling a friend, playing a video game, reading a book, exercising, etc. The goal is to stop yourself from unnecessarily focusing on certain thoughts.

I would highly recommend seeing a mental health professional. Anxiety disorders are treatable. They are treated with medication, psychotherapy and often a combination of both. Millions of people who have undergone treatment for anxiety disorders have experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms. When considering a mental health professional, it would be advantageous to choose one who specializes in anxiety disorders, specifically OCD and phobias. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Oct 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Dealing with Phobia. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/10/24/dealing-with-phobia/