There has been a unique method that has been used over the years, in which may help you understand ways phobias form. How would one tackle this? You may ask, well The Social Cognitive Theory is your answer. May not help you, but it is a rather interesting intake of how to get rid of your deepest and darkest fear aka clowns.
So, you may be wondering what on earth is the Social Cognitive Theory. It is a subcategory of the cognitive theory which concentrates on the effects of others have on us and our behaviour. There are principles in which defines the Social Cognitive Theory. The first principle would be that people learn by learning from other by observing, not just from their experience. This process is called ‘vicarious learning’, one famous study relating to this would be the Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment (1961-1963), in which children watched how the adults, or ‘role models’ would interact with the Bobo Doll and then execute the same action they’ve seen. The second principle is that, even though learning can modify behaviour, individuals may not always apply what they have learned. Making your own choice is based on the idea of what has been perceived and the consequences of doing those behaviour. Addressing the idea of the Bandura’s study above, the third principle is that individuals are more likely to follow behaviours which are done by those who they can identify with. The stronger the emotional attachment or the similarities between the demonstrator and observer, the likely chance of that individual copying the demonstrator. The Fourth principle in self-efficacy, which is the fundamental belief in one’s belief in their ability to reach their desired goal. This idea affects the learning process.
The Social Cognitive Theory suggest that individuals develop phobias from early childhood, as to when our parents or caregiver are our role models. For example, parents will often show disgust for spiders or even clowns for it to develop into phobias for their child. Also, watching your ‘role model’ go through a negative experience such as struggling to swim in deep water can ultimately lead to a phobia forming. I know, for sure, when I saw my dad once floating face down in water when I was 5, I immediately was terrified of swimming in water and never attempted to until I was 9. By the way, he was alive while floating, just clarifying. The theory has also helped in treatment of phobia, which brings in the self-efficacy, in which an individual may have a strong belief they can get over their fear; however, they still struggle when trying to unlearn the automatic fear response.
This may not exactly solve your phobia problems, but it is a start in believing you can. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to bungee jump from a cliff or watch IT.