An estimated 19.2 million American adults have a specific phobia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. No one knows for sure how they originate, but the thinking is that both genes and environment play a role. They tend to run in families, though not necessarily the same phobia. Familiar phobias like fear of heights seem related to an evolutionary survival response."
In the The New York Times article below, readers are introduced to Attis Clopton, a 33 year old professional drummer and Brooklyn, New York resident who suffers from a specific phobia, however it's not a phobia like fear of spiders or heights or enclosed spaces that many commonly think of. Rather, Clopton suffers from aquaphobia, also known as the fear of water.
Clopton's aquaphobia, which seemed to stem from a few traumatic experiences in his childhood, is so severe it took him many years to be able to put his face under the shower head, and though he enjoys going to the beach with his friends, simply putting his feet in the water elicits an anxiety and panic response rather than enjoyment. To read more about aquaphobia and how Clopton learned to overcome his phobia, check out the following link:
"A New Yorker Faces His Phobia, One Stroke at a Time" by N. R. Kleinfeld (NY Times)