With coffee in one hand and my iPad in the other, I click on an article in the Daily Mail entitled 'Veteran traveler Michael Palin brands David Beckham a "wimp" for his fear of creepy crawlies in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.' I’m overcome by a feeling of outrage and disappointment. The outrage comes from Palin’s insult and the disappointment comes from the clear ignorance of how badly a phobia can affect someone’s daily life.
Apparently Beckham was caught on camera quivering at the sight of a frog. People may have phobias of different animals, spiders being the most prominent, but snakes, mice, wasps, fish, dogs, and cats following close behind. Regardless of which animal phobia you may have, all are real problems for the sufferer.
Beckham may not exactly have a full-blown phobia of frogs, and so, although uncomfortable can continue on his trip through Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. However, for people with intense phobias, going on such a trip may never even be an option and mocking those with fears of animals and insects completely underestimates how much a phobia can affect someone’s life. Imagine a phobia of flying: how would that person travel from Australia to New York City without taking weeks at sea? A phobia can be completely debilitating and is something that should be taken extremely seriously. Comments such as 'wimp' undermine people with phobias, and can very well make someone looking for treatment feel ‘weak’ and, as Palin said, a 'wimp'.
Have you ever experienced a moment in life where your phobia was mocked, or where it stopped you from doing something? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can start bringing awareness to these mental health issues. We do live in a developed, 21st century world after all… Lets get everybody up to date!