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Characteristics of Phobias Depression and OCD

A phobia is an extreme, irrational fear of a particular situation or object, and is an example of an anxiety disorder. There are several types of phobias but three include agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. The characteristics of phobias can be divided into three categories:
Behavioural – there are two types of behavioural characteristics and they are avoidance and panic. Avoidance is the key behavioural characteristic and this is because when someone with a phobia is presented with an object or is put into a fearful situation, the first initial thing they will do is avoid it. A prime example of this is if someone has a social phobia, they will avoid being in big crowds, and if someone who has arachnophobia they will avoid being near spiders. Panic on the other hand is the other behavioural characteristic and this happens when they come face-to-face with their fears and cannot avoid it. This results in panic and causes a high level of stress and anxiety on the person. What can also happen is it can result in the person ‘freezing’ due to the fear being so intense. This is part of the ‘fight or flight’ fear response. This freezing response is an adaptive response to make a predator think that their prey is dead.
Emotional – The main emotional characteristic of phobia are unreasonable and excessive fear, panic, anxiety, and a feeling of dread. An emotional response is set off by the anticipation or the presence of a specific situation or object, which is excessive in relation to the danger actually posed as.
Cognitive – there are also two types of cognitive characteristics and they are irrational beliefs and selective attention. A person’s phobia is defined by their irrational thinking about the stimulus and this causes them to fear. An example of this is a person who suffers from arachnophobia may think that all spiders are deadly, despite the fact that no spiders in the UK are deadly. On the other hand, if a person with a phobia is presented by a situation or object they fear of, they will find it hard to concentrate because they are preoccupied by anxious thoughts, and will therefore direct their attention elsewhere. This means that because of their selective attention, it will cause them to become fixated on the object they fear due to their irrational thoughts and beliefs about the danger.
Depression is one of the most common mood disorder, and mood disorders can be characterised through strong emotions, which can affect the way a person functions normally in their daily lives. A mood disorder can affect an individual’s behaviour, perceptions and thinking. There are different types of depression such as manic depression known as a bipolar disorder, and major depression known as a unipolar disorder. There are a range of possible symptoms people who suffer with depression can experience. In order for someone to become diagnosed with major depression, sufferers are required to show at least five symptoms every day for at least two weeks. Characteristics are then divided into three groups which are:
Physical/behavioural symptoms – there are many behavioural characteristics of depression including pain especially headaches, muscle ache and joint ache, change in appetite, lack of activity, and insomnia. First of all there is often a change in the person’s activity level, with sufferers constantly feeling tired. Leading on from this, sufferers then often experience sleep disturbance, with some people sleeping more, or less, or experiencing insomnia. Finally, sufferers whose appetite changes may have significant weight changes too due to them eating less than usual or more, and losing or gaining weight.
Affective/emotional symptoms – the key emotional symptoms of depression include extreme feelings of sadness, despair and hopelessness. Sufferers will also experience feelings of worthlessness and anhedonia which is no longer having an interest in activities that used to be pleasurable. Diurnal mood variation can also occur and this is the change in mood throughout the day, for example feeling worse in the morning time. Even though experiencing a depressed mood is the most common emotional symptom of depression, some people experience anger that can be directed towards others or themselves. Anger can also lead to self-harming behaviours sadly.
Cognitive symptoms – along with the behavioural and emotional symptoms of depression, there are also cognitive symptoms. Cognitive symptoms are things such as experiencing persistent negative beliefs about their abilities and themselves. Along with this it involves suicidal thoughts and finding it difficult to maintain or pay attention. Sufferers are often slower in responding at making or to decisions. Furthermore, they are also more inclined to just focus on the negatives and not identify the positives and in some cases this can lead to them experiencing recurrent thoughts of death, suicide or self-harm.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has two parts which are obsessions and compulsions. The majority of people who suffer from OCD that experience obsessions and compulsions that are linked together.
The three types of characteristics for OCD are:
Behavioural – compulsions of OCD are the behavioural aspect and for people who suffer with OCD, compulsions have two properties. One of these properties is that compulsions are mental or physical repetitive actions. Sufferers will often feel the need to repeat a behaviour, for example repetitive hand washing. The second property is compulsions are used to reduce anxiety or prevent a feared situation from occurring but in reality they would not actually stop a dreaded situation and are excessive. For example with the excessive hand washing being caused by an excessive fear of bacteria or germs, it is therefore a direct response to the obsession.
Emotional – the emotional characteristics of OCD are usually characterised by anxiety caused by the obsessions. However, some of the sufferers of OCD also experience depression due to the anxiety they go through. As the obsessions for the sufferer are persistent, this causes a high level of anxiety for them. This anxiety can result in them having low moods and a loss of pleasure in everyday activities, because these everyday activities are being interrupted by the repetitive compulsions and obsessive thoughts.
Cognitive – Obsessions are the cognitive part of OCD and are the reoccurring and persistent thoughts, impulses and images. Examples of these are the fear of safety by leaving windows and doors open, perfectionism – a fear of not being the best, and fear of contamination by germs and dirt. For people who suffer from OCD, these thoughts keep happening over and over again. The sufferers tries to ignore the thoughts, impulses or images however it unable to. In most people these thoughts cause stress and anxiety. Some sufferers of OCD try to deal with their obsessions by introducing cognitive strategies. An example of this is sufferers with religious obsessions might pray over and over again in order to reduce their feelings of being immoral. Furthermore, sufferers of OCD realise that their compulsions and obsessions are irrational, so they experience selective attention which is directed towards the anxiety-generating stimuli. This is similar to the selective attention people with phobias have.

Robert Pascal’s Theory on Icy Moons | Analysis

In Robert Pascal’s research article, “Physiochemical Requirements Inferred for Chemical Self-Organization Hardly Support an Emergence of Life in the Deep Oceans of Icy Moons”, Pascal presents different hypotheses of the formation of life on icy moons compared to life on Earth. Liquid water, free energy, and organic matter are the three essential components to start the origin of life. In addition, the complexity of the environment and the structure of the entity itself are also essential to the formation of life. On these icy moons, Pascal states that there would have been an event which was highly unlikely, taking place to combine these components. These events are considered, because our knowledge of astrobiology is only limited within the parameters of Earth.
On icy moons, life will be significantly simpler than of life on Earth due to the insufficiency of the components used to start the origins of life. The first component is liquid water, water plays a major role in creating life on Earth and most of the living organisms on Earth grow in wet environments. The properties of water being a solvent and to be able to dissolve mostly everything allow organisms to evolve in different environments. The second component is organic matter which is present in minerals. Organic matter is combined together with water and energy in a long process to help the entity grow its structure. The third component is energy which allows an endergonic reaction to take place to create a chemical reaction with water and organic matter. Kinetic barriers are also formed by existing energy around the entity which depends on the temperature in the environment during the origin of life process allowing system to maintain its equilibrium state and further evolve.
In addition, the entity must be capable of reproducing itself leading to the evolution of the entity. The second law of thermodynamics is applied to demonstrate how the entity maintains its equilibrium state coupled with a form of stability, called dynamic kinetic stability (Robert Pascal, 2016) which enables the entity to reproduce itself towards an irreversible stage. Considering all theories and conclusions researchers have come to, Pascal states that the final parameters which determine how the origin of life will be formed is the covalent bonds of the entity relative to the liquid water around it, the temperature of the environment where the entity resides, liquid water, and an energy source equivalent to light.
The origin of life of different extra-terrestrial systems depends on the complexity of the evolution of the entity and the complexity of its environment. The oceans on Jupiter and Saturn’s icy moons have a significantly lower temperature environment compared to the Earth, with no light or alternative energy source that would reach the entity to start any kinetic irreversibility leading to a conclusion that an event that was highly unlikely would have taken place to start the origin of life process in the oceans of the icy moons. It is believed that on the icy moons, chemical gradients are contained between the crust and the ocean which meets the criteria of the origin of life on Earth.
Pascal uses the knowledge of astrobiology within the parameters of Earth to present three hypotheses about how life would form on these icy moons. The first hypothesis is called panspermia, which is the theory of the origin of life would have originated from microorganisms from outer space, which upon reaching a suitable environment, is able to initiate life. The second hypothesis considered entities that have experienced conditions that would allow the entity to take in liquid water through the environment and solar energy by exchanges through the atmosphere. The second hypothesis was deemed incompatible as the time duration of the process would be too short for the process of chemiosmosis. The third hypothesis was the subduction process in the ocean which would have activated chemicals capable of feeding the chemical protometabolisms. This shows that including the present day knowledge of astrobiology and the origin of life process, the origin of life process in the oceans of icy moons must also include an event that would be highly unlikely of taking place as the formation of life on different extra-terrestrial systems depend on the complexity of its environment and the evolution of the entity itself.
In Pascal’s “Physiochemical Requirements Inferred for Chemical Self-Organization Hardly Support an Emergence of Life in the Deep Oceans of Icy Moons”, the information in the hypotheses about the formation of life on icy moons are limited, because our knowledge of astrobiology is only limited within the parameters of Earth.
Reference List
Earth, P., Panspermia, H. and Panspermia, R. (2017). PANSPERMIA THEORY origin of life on Earth directed panspermia lithopanspermia meteorites – Panspermia Theory. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017].
Khan Academy. (2017) Khan Academy, [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017].