Ever seen one of those old experiments where a surgeon probes an area of a person's brain via their opened up skull prompting them to feel, see vivid and visceral sensory experience?
When I first heard the definition of phobia as "an irrational fear" my mind rejected that as both wrong and unhelpful. The latter's a bit moot. I dislike lying definitions/diagnoses on the whole, but there are times when they can be false but contain useful insight. Like.... but in the main I'd say in the main, the truthtiest is most likely to be the most helpful in the long one.
Life is about extending your conceptual grasp.
That irrational fear label is misleading. It perhaps depends on a general conceptual basis about the nature of responses such as fear. We tend to presume what causes fear- the feeling invoked when facing a threat to life and limb- generates the feeling of it.
For example, being cornered with a roaring lion in front of you. Yes, but in the sense that the lion activates the parts of your system that produces and expresses that feeling. Where we seem to struggle is with the idea that this mechanism can be set in motion and produce the same or at least similar feelings-without a real threat being present. In other words, without a meaningfully fear-inducing stimulus.
Rather like that surgeon.
In the case of a phobia, the momentum is a particular trigger, association or experience; spiders, flying, buttons even. The fear is real, it's happening, like feelings are being experienced by the patient whose brain is being prodded.
Because our impulses, instincts, feelings and emotions have to have material to come into effect through. That is usually our nervous system, rather like the fibre optic cable the internet is beamed through.
Though we know our brain and nervous system function is anatomical, we seem to forgot feeling them almost as ethereal outerbody metaphors.
It's a bit like when you've tried in the past to explain the internet to someone unfamiliar with computers. They'll ask you things like; "Where's the internet?" Though that's kind of amusing, if you've gotten past your where's the i-net phase, it's a perfectly valid question. Turns out, it is somewhere. In fibre optic cables running through actual terrain and so on.
But that's not really what they're asking. They want to know, what the stuff coming to your computer is. Not being technically minded (that way) the best I have managed is the old comparing it to a telephone (landline) and wifi to a mobile.
I think we slip in and out of a similar issue with the brain/nervous system. And eating, well, that's also disappeared down a conceptual rabbit hole. Actually a cognitive error. Though we know on some level that eating is necessary and that hunger is generated by anatomy. We've gotten lost in the calories in/out (ci/co) hypothesis. Hunger has almost become by default something akin to a mere notion, unrelated to necessity. Like me right now deciding to consider the skyline outside this window.....
We know it isn't really, but ci/co exists to support a particular outlook, set of responses and behaviours. It supports calorie restriction as the method of weight regulation. Actually regulating weight requires undesired change. All this facilitates the compulsion to press fat people into various disordered behaviours.
In order to really progress beyond ci/co, to even understand a true eating disorder of for example, excess hunger, you have to start from the basis that hunger is a signal produced by your anatomy. It lands in your conscious brain or awareness yes more as an mid to endpoint in the process of maintaining energy. It is not created where it lands-in your conscious mind, anymore than feeling cold is created by your conscious awareness that you are cold.
And with hunger, just as the machinery of fear can be set in motion either by other triggers or even some internal self sustaining imbalance in the mechanism, so can the body can be provoked into producing and excess of hunger signalling.