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OPINION: Dealing phobias

Monday 20 June 2022 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


OPINION: Dealing phobias
Photo: CI News/21062919

Voting is a safe space to have a public voice, you get to choose who you want to lead us out of the deep water we are in, just beware of the sharks, writes Ruta Mave.

Galeophobia – an abnormally large and persistent fear of sharks – is one of many phobias nearly 10 per cent of a population feel. A phobia is a mental impairment where a healthy anxiety may be triggered as a safety warning but in the case of a phobia, instead of getting things done and producing positive action to avoid a perceived danger, a phobia is defined by its intensity and debilitating affect on our daily lives. So, if you hear the Jaws theme in your head as you drive to the beach, chances are you are galeophobic.

I’m a bit of a collector when it comes to phobias. Heights – acrophobia is a fun one I constantly test the boundaries of, by exposure therapy which means I will put myself into situations like bungy jumping, climbing the Eiffel tower, standing on the Empire state building, flying in an acrobatic stunt plane, going on the ferris wheel because despite my extreme physical discomfort of panic attacking my ability to breathe, think and move, I equally don’t want to miss out FOMO on a once in a lifetime opportunity. Going on the extreme corkscrew rollercoaster at Disneyland with my kids once was to tick the box of sharing the ‘fun’ with them, I certainly didn’t need to do it over and over again as they did. But I draw the line of doing the same off a tall building that is just insane madness.

Feel the fear and do it anyway is the catch cry for sports and adventure seekers the world over and so true is the way – they say – out of a phobia. My fear of deep water and all that lurks within it hasn’t stopped me from canoeing rapids, white water rafting, swimming the green grotto in Isle of Capri, learning to surf in Byron Bay, or swimming with the dolphins in the ocean and it hasn’t cured me either.

I have a healthy respect for the water, I love the deep water of a bath or spa pool, with my head above of course. I learned to swim, I ensured my children learned to swim and they have a love for the water. I do what I can to protect its integrity and health as I will protect the environment and species of the shark family because I see them as an amazing animal that has evolved to the top of their food chain as we have. Just because they may pose a threat to me under certain situations, I may find myself in, does not mean I have to hate them, just avoid them, similarly for the human ‘shark’ variety.

Adding to the list is pteromerhanophobia – the fear of flying, I quickly got used to this one because how would I get here or anywhere if I couldn’t get on a plane? I guess that is why they have duty free right before the departure lounge.

Trypanophobia – fear of needles, could maybe why I’m not a drug addict I pity those with diabetes who have to self-administer insulin every day, this is one phobia you would have to move forwards on. 

But where many fear public speaking – Glossophobia – it’s said to affect up to 75 per cent of the population to the extent some people would rather die than speak, which is very extreme, I don’t.

Voting is a safe space to have a public voice, you get to choose who you want to lead us out of the deep water we are in, just beware of the sharks.