If you are reading this, chances are you have a phobia. Statistics show that about 7% of the U.S. population suffers from one or more phobias. However, I find that the prevalence is much greater than that.
As part of my homeopathic evaluation I always ask “what fears or phobias do you have?” The reason for this question is that phobias are one symptom that the body is out of balance. Some of the more common fears that I see are heights, insects, snakes, that something bad will happen, and social situations. And more recently a phobia of Covid.
Probably the most unusual fear that I have come across several times is trypophobia, a fear of holes. People with this fear have a strong physical and emotional reaction whenever they see patterns made up of holes or spots. The bigger the cluster of circles, the more uncomfortable they feel. Researchers suspect that this reaction might be a way to protect oneself from danger. Some of the most poisonous animals on the planet – like the king cobra, puffer fish, and poison dart frog – have hole-like patterns on their skin. It is these patterns that bother people who have trypophobia.
Several months ago I came across another unusual fear in a 11 year old girl. Her mother brought Elena in because of her exaggerated fear of warning labels – specifically the labels that California is requiring to be placed on literally everything (see below). When Elena sees these labels, she becomes panicked that the product will cause her to have cancer. Because her sister had a backpack with a warning sign on it she refused to go anywhere near her. When she saw this warning label at a drive thru (this probably was a good place to have a warning label!) she did not want to eat the food. This fear has gone to such an extreme that it became difficult for her to sleep at night. Her mom was having to continually reassure her that there is no danger of her dying from cancer by coming in contact with these products.
As with any homeopathic evaluation I asked about any other emotional or physical areas that were out of balance. Elena was very snappy and defiant, making threatening comments, but would almost immediately be remorseful and apologetic for her comments. In addition, she had started hitting herself out of frustration. With this and other information I was able to determine that she needed the homeopathic remedy Plumbum. In the back of my mind I was questioning if this obsession with warning labels and her erratic behavior was due to PANDAS, so I suggested that the mother get a second opinion from a neurologist.
Fortunately, Elena responded almost immediately to the homeopathic remedy. On her one month follow up her mom reported that she was 90% better not only with her unusual phobia but also her defiance and anger. Elena by nature has always had a tendency for defiance but now her mom is able to talk her into doing things.
Do all patients with phobias respond this way? I find that for children the answer is yes. For adults the success rate is around 70%. Has California gone too far with these warning labels? That is a topic for another blog.
Terry Pfau DO, HMD