n 1: an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations; "phobic disorder is a general term for all phobias" [syn: phobia, phobic disorder, phobic neurosis]
Extreme and irrational fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. Phobias are classified as forms of anxiety disorder (a neurosis), since anxiety is its chief symptom. They are generally believed to result when fear produced by an original threatening situation (such as a near-drowning in childhood) is transferred to other similar situations (such as encounters with bodies of water), the original fear often being repressed or forgotten. Behavior therapy is often successful in overcoming phobias, the phobic person being gradually exposed to the anxiety-provoking object or situation in a way that demonstrates that no threat really exists.