I recently got asked by a writer from Thrillist — a guy who asks me things often — where phobias come from. It was for a piece he was writing about his fear of being naked in public.

Though my comments did not get incorporated into the piece, the science behind phobias is interesting — especially because the science is really an amalgamation of genetics and environmental/social factors, all of which vary considerably.

So, when asked where phobias come from, this is what I had to say:

According to science, the ‘irrational’ or ‘excessive’ fear commonly associated with phobias allegedly comes from variable combinations of genetic and environmental/social factors. Understanding of these causes is pretty limited though – the idea of genetics is pretty shaky, and people with intense phobias often can’t identify a specific causal event that initiated their specific fear.

All that said, sociologically speaking, having numerous bad experiences with something could certainly shape one’s behavior/responses to said stimuli as fearful, distasteful, or downright phobic. A significant factor here is that different phobias seem to emerge from a variety of processes – paying attention to these variable casual elements is certainly beneficial when working through whatever phobia.

Well, what do you think? Where do your phobias come from?


(pictured: what Google gives you for “naked in public”)

* * *

Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com