Article on phobias

Just saw this article in today’s NYTimes about phobias.

For me it was a long way of demonstrating how important coaches are to overcoming a phobia. It also mentions the frequency,variety and genesis of phobias, and notes that both genes and environment play a role in the origin of a phobia. It explains phobias “tend to run in families, though not necessarily the same phobia.” We could do something with that. Margaret has a phobia of babies? Or children? I’d say intimacy except that she seemed to like the intimacy she had with Christopher until Martin arrived.

So many articles, etc. that trigger thoughts!

Originally posted 2014-08-29 10:30:46.

7 thoughts on “Article on phobias

  1. Santa Traugott

    I am sure they must run in families — I think baseline anxiety is at least somewhat wired in, and phobias are one way of dealing with that. Also, perhaps to some degree learned behavior? Mom has an elevator phobia, daughter develops a phobia about flying…. Margaret strikes me as quite remarkably cold-blooded, quite unlikely to have any phobias, I would say!

  2. Post author

    You’re probably right about Margaret. Whatever phobia Martin might have had in his family, it was unlikely to have been from her. Or maybe the writers/medical consultants didn’t think that far for this show. Not really necessary!

  3. Barb

    You find some very interesting things as well as writing great posts Karen. This is another one that struck close to home for me. I never thought about phobias running in families. I too had a great fear of water. I always thought it was strictly because I almost drowned at the beach with a group of young teens. I was the only none swimmer, but I kept going out farther and farther with them. A girl in the group saw I was drowning and saved me. It was many years later as a returning adult in college that I decided to learn to swim. I told them my story, and they started me out in the baby pool. At the end of the semester, I could finally swim. I have to say that I haven’t gone swimming since then though. hahaha. sigh. After thinking about it, I remembered my mother saying she almost drowned with she was quite young, and she had huge fear of getting in water. I didn’t know how bad it was until I took her to the ocean. I love being near the ocean, and I thought she would too. But she didn’t. She didn’t like being on the bridge going over water either. I have a fear of snakes, and I’ve never had a bad experience with a snake. But, my mother grew up in the country, and she had several bad experiences with snakes. Looks like I picked that up from her telling me the stories.

    I really hope in Season 7 they will tell the story of Doc’s blood phobia, and he will conquer it. Seems like I read somewhere that people think it was just because he saw his patient as a real person and not just a body to be operated on. They speculate that seeing people who really loved someone brought it on since that was a new experience for him. What do you all think?

  4. Post author

    Barb, I’m so glad you like some of the links I post. I find so many references that are intriguing and can be related to this show as well.

    There is no question about ME’s own explanation for his blood phobia. He gives it in S1E6 if you want to hear it yourself. When ME and LG are in the ambulance with Peter Cronk, ME tells LG what he remembers happening to bring on his blood phobia. Beyond his own recollection of how his fear of blood began, we only know that it continues throughout the series with some abatement at certain points and it never prevents him from getting his job done in Portwenn. He struggles at times, but always manages to overcome the phobic symptoms. He also manages to perform surgery successfully a few times, including, most importantly, on his own wife in the final episode of S6. So, in this show a serious phobia, that is also used for comedic purposes, is not as much of an impediment as many phobias are in real life.

  5. Mary F.

    Always enjoy your posts! My dad insisted on taking me into the ocean as a small child and letting me ride the waves back to the shore without him, it was a terrifying experience and no matter how much I clung to him he’d laugh and let me go. I’m sure I probably wasn’t in any real danger, but I developed a terrible fear of the water after that and it took many many years to overcome my phobia and learn to swim. Still don’t enjoy water as much as I should. I wonder if phobia’s develop in people when they feel they have lost control of a particular situation. I’ll get on a plane now but only with a gin tonic..I always think I’m in a tin can and wonder about the pilots abilities….well, I certainly can’t fly a plane myself, so why worry about a licensed pilot? The issue of phobias is very interesting, I’m sure some of it may be how we are wired, but how much is environmental, or learned behavior? Perhaps our dear doctor suddenly realized that this was not another clock to be fixed. Suddenly he became aware that his surgical efforts radiated outward and affected an entire family. We know he could never please his immediate family, how could he possibly do whats right for a complete stranger?

  6. Linda

    Phobias are very interesting because the causes are so elusive and often, complex situations are part of the equation. Some take years to figure out. Some people live with them their whole life. I think they can be familial but more as learned behaviour. The elevator example, that was mentioned, is a good case in point. If a mother is frightened of them, she would not take her kids on an elevator and children would undoubtedly pick up on the fear. Parent’s reactions to things they fear, must rub off on their offspring. Usually though, both parents don’t have the same fears so the reactions of one might be tempered by the reactions of the other. The child then, may be spared of the big consequences.
    I do think phobias are rooted in some childhood trauma/experience – not always a very serious incident, but likely. The NY Times article shows that when one faces their fears and has the right help, phobias can be overcome.
    Martin’s blood phobia is as of yet, unexplained except for his explanation of how it first manifested itself. He does not seem to equate it to childhood trauma or experience but Ruth has now suggested it. It might be just too hard to delve deeply into his early life, and psyche because he has never really absorbed that he was abused as a child and did not have a healthy life in any respect. That is hard for anyone to admit. If he opens up that “Pandora’s Box, it is likely to open some terrible wounds. He might even experience a breakdown and that would not be something he would want. He likes to think HE can control everything. He is not likely to figure it out without professional help and the love and support of his family. He would like to write a prescription and fix it simply so he can get back to doing what he loves If only it was that simple!

  7. Post author

    Many thanks Mary. I just wanted to say that surgeons have a difficult job because they really have to distance themselves from the people they are operating on or they would find it very hard to make those incisions, deal with all the blood, lift out the organs and suture or remove them, etc. I think most surgeons would tell you they have some personal method of getting over that hurdle. I think the surgical drapes help to camouflage the body and narrow the focus to the one part needing the operation, and the patient’s head is often blocked from view as well. Then it’s all very technical and no nonsense, which must contribute to making the surgeon more comfortable. I also would guess that any surgeon would start to tremble if he/she thought too much about who is on the operating table. They have learned to compartmentalize and only think about the job at hand. Surgeons generally try not to get too involved with the patient or the family because they look at the person as a case; therefore, they often have nurses or assistants interact with the patients. I know there are exceptions to this rule because the surgeon who operated on my uncle at the beginning of this year was often in contact with my cousin even after the surgery. He also took time off to come to my uncle’s burial several months later. But I think he was quite unusual. More often they disappear after the procedure and are hard to get hold of. Their work is done and they’re on to the next case. Martin had an extraordinary experience when he spoke to the family and then found it impossible to perform the operation. Most likely he rarely or never saw them prior to entering the operating room.

    You make an interesting point that M’s sudden recognition that he will be responsible to the patient’s family for the outcome might be related to his self-doubt due to the relationship he has with his own family. We have no way to know, of course, and will see if that comes up in S7.

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