But by the early 1990s, Rappaport found treatment for her condition in a National Institutes of Health clinical trial using Botox injections. The NIH flew her to Maryland from California to receive the low-dose injections, and she started to see an improvement.
Today Botulinum Toxin Type A is used to treat many of the 30,000 Americans suffer from this condition.
It's a phobia that filmmakers have loved for years. At a tense moment, someone, usually a man, sees a needle and crumples to the floor.
But it wasn't until 1997 that the mental health community officially recognized needle phobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Now, mental health experts estimate that needle phobia may affect up to 10 percent of the population — and it may even be inherited.
"Every time I went to the doctor, it was a shop of horrors," says Keith Lamb, an emergency medical technician in Columbus, Ohio, and long-time needle phobia advocate.
For years, Lamb could not even walk through a dentist's door, due to his needle phobia. But he says his fear of needles truly came to a head when he enrolled in EMT training, and was required to "practice" injections with a partner.
"I can dish it out, but I just can't take it," says Lamb.
In belonephobia, the most prevalent form of needle phobia, the mere sight of a needle triggers a physical domino effect known as a vasovagal reaction: a central nerve flares up, then blood vessels dilate, blood pressure drops, and the person faints.
For many, it's not just the prospect of getting a shot, but sensitivity to the actual pain of the shot itself that's at the root of their phobia.
In order to administer an injection, a health care provider must navigate carefully through tissue, tiny veins and nerves to an injection site. Extra movement can push medication into the wrong layer of tissue, causing weird sensations, or push a needle through the other side of the vein, necessitating a repeat try.
"When we do a puncture, we go into a network of small nerves," says Dr. Sudhir Diwan, director of pain medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York. "When someone jumps, there can sometimes be a nerve injury, and that causes more pain."
Fortunately, non-fainting needlephobes like Lamb may not have to wait long for science to find a physical rationale for their fear. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta are already beginning to use MRI scans to map feelings associated with dread in the brain. Unlocking these secrets may eventually lead to new approaches that will take the sting out of shots for those with a fear of needles.
For those who have never experienced persistent sexual arousal syndrome, or PSAS, its symptoms may seem more like a godsend or a dirty joke than a debilitating condition.
However, for the women who experience PSAS -- which causes them to live perpetually at the brink of orgasm -- the condition is a nightmarish curse. And up until 2001, it was a curse that didn't even have a name.
"I thought I was alone in this," Heather Dearmon, a 34-year-old South Carolina woman who experiences PSAS, told ABC News' "Primetime." "And this is after seeing every kind of doctor imaginable -- gynecologist, psychologist, psychiatrist -- you know, everything. And none had ever heard of anything."