All humans suffer from fear but for some individuals irrational anxiety can take over their lives.

Some people, for many reasons, lose control of fear and develop phobias falling into the Fear Trap.

Most humans feel fear when they look over a cliff top and we admire the courage of the climber who faces that cliff single-handed.

Anne Griffin suffers from nyctophobia and has to leave the light on in order to get to sleep. She wakes several times throughout the night to make sure the light is still on. Her fear is that if it is dark, something bad will happen.

Every night going to bed I was afraid there was going to be a power cut.

Ambrose McDonnell suffers from agoraphobia and explains how as soon as he puts his foot on the first step outside the house the anxiety begins.

I often only got as far as the corner, which is five yards.

Morny Murrihy of the Out and About Association has received thousands of letters from people who are controlled by fear. Many are agoraphobics trapped in their homes.  Out and About Association sends out a monthly newsletter to these people so that they have some contact with the outside world.

Terrified of going to mass, to the shops, of even hanging out the washing. Normal people with abnormal fears.

This episode of 'Nature of Things' was broadcast on 1 March 1990.The reporter is Áine Lawlor.

‘Nature of Things’ is a series that examines issues in science, technology and the environment. The series is presented by Áine Lawlor, Tim Collins and John Murray.