Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Fears unexplained


Dear Dr. Harrop

I have discovered that I have some unexplainable fears, which on the surface seems to be very silly. For example, one of my problem is, at nights, I hate to walk close to trees when street lights are very close to it, and especially when the wind is blowing on it and it sways. I am not sure what kind of fear is this, but you can tell me, and give me the solution to this. Some years ago after the passage of Hurricane Gilbert, many light poles were down as a result of the strong winds. While walking home I would have to pass a number of utility poles partially down, and the big electrical transformers would almost be at my height from the ground. Now I was fearful of passing them. I know they cannot hurt me. I also know that the electrical power would not be restored right away, but I was just afraid to pass them, but had to in order to reach home. Some months ago too, I was walking on the road and I saw a fallen light pole, and it gave me the creeps. It would have been far worse if the light was on while the pole was down. Now, I don't think you have come across a case like mine before, so you may be taken aback somewhat. What kind of fears are theses? What causes them? The big question now is, what do I do to overcome them.
Thanks in anticipation of your response.

Yours sincerely

This appears to be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder, mainly obsessive (the thoughts) -- thoughts you know are ridiculous you cannot easily and quickly dismiss.  You will probably respond to a short course of behavioral therapy or cognitive therapy, which you should seek out.  

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Daniel S. Harrop, M.D.


Dr. Daniel S. Harrop received his B.A. and his M.D., both from Brown, and his M.B.A. from the Edinburgh Business School, Scotland. Board-certified in adult and geriatric psychiatry, he is a past president of the R.I. Psychiatric Society and a member of the Committee on Medical Quality of the American Psychiatric Association and the Committee on Continuing Medical Education of the R.I Medical Society. He serves as a consultant to four of the top five major medical management companies, including OptumHealth/United Healthcare, Magellan Behavioral Health Services, ValueOptions and APS Healthcare, and maintains a private practice in Providence, R.I. He also serves as chief psychiatric consultant on the Medical Advisory Board at the R.I. Workers Compensation Court. He was formerly on the faculty at the medical schools at both Brown University and Harvard University.

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