Obsessions and Phobias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This article examines the phenomenology of two unwanted intrusive experiences—phobias and obsessions. The article begins with two common examples of phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia, characterised by the experience of fear; an intense concentration of anxiety to specific situations or stimuli. This anxiety creates intense feelings of vulnerability in one’s environment, and overwhelming urges to avoid specific stressful situations. While anxiety is only one of various emotional states associated with obsessions, an inflated sense of responsibility and pathological doubt, particularly about moral self-worth, are also central features in the experience of obsessions. This subjective experience provokes unease in one’s self-world interactions, leading to an intense quest for certainty and perfection, propelling individuals into compulsive responses and magnification of obsessions. While phobias and obsessions are considered typical of human experience, the intrapersonal management of these phenomena leads to persistence and magnification of distress, intrusiveness of symptoms and dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Phenomenological Psychopathology
EditorsGiovanni Stanghellini, Matthew Broome, Andrea Raballo, Anthony Vincent Fernandez, Paolo Fusar-Poli, René Rosfort
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780198803157
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameInternational perspectives in philosophy and psychiatry
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Phobias
  • Obsessions
  • Anxiety
  • Doubt
  • Morality
  • Self-worth
  • Responsibility
  • Certainty


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