A Phobia can have some very harmful effects - if the appropriate treatment isn't sought and then completed, that is.
Take a look at this article about a man with a common swallowing/choking phobia that is withering away (just copy and paste the link below into your browser):
I found the article's statement that "Mr Buckingham's condition has baffled doctors, dieticians and psychologists while his wife Debbie has watched him wither away" fascinating.
There is no mystery here!! Mr. Buckingham has a PHOBIA.
And a common one at that.
I treat swallowing/choking phobia frequently at The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles.
This man's struggle describes a common phobia: A scary or uncomfortable experience with an object, situation or event perceived as dangerous followed by an individual developing an irrational fear and then engaging in avoidance to protect oneself. The avoidance then leads to more anxiety and the reinforcement of fear.
It is a diagnosable anxiety disorder when the fear significantly interferes with life.
The more he continues to avoid eating, the more afraid of swallowing/choking he will become.
This man needs Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Exposure and Response Prevention. His phobia, like all phobias is extremely treatable. It is done gradually with specific strategies and techniques to build confidence and move towards desensitization.
A phobia can have some very harmful effects if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner.
Follow this link for more on treatment for a phobia and anxiety