A phobia (from the Greek word phobos) is a morbid fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer goes to great lengths to avoid. There are specific phobias and social phobias. Some of these fears are of very common things or circumstance like a fear of heights (Acrophobia), spiders (Arachnophobia), or tight spaces (Claustrophobia), some people have fears which most of the population would consider downright bizarre.
Phobias exist for all kinds of people, and aren’t limited to economic class, sex, race, or any other designator. Even very famous people suffer from phobias: actor Matthew McConaughey won’t go through a revolving door when entering a building; singer Lyle Lovett gets the willies if he finds himself near a cow!
People who have phobias and are aware of them usually go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation. The results of having phobias can range from the very simple like being in a state of heightened anxiety, to the extreme, whereby people become virtually paralyzed from proceeding and at times the anxiety or mental state can lead to physical manifestations, like increased perspiration, labored breathing, fainting or worse.
Thirteen of the most bizarre phobias:
Everybody likes peanut butter, right? Old people, young people, children? Not exactly. Not people who have arachibutyrophobia, which is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. No word on whether there are separate phobias for creamy and chunky.
In psychology, the color yellow, signifies the mind, intellect and cheerfulness. But to people with Xanthophobia, yellow (even the word) is no laughing matter, as xanthophobes are afraid of it. This fear has been documented by people reacting to the sun, daffodils, yellow paint, and even the Yellow Pages! In China, seeing a yellow scarf was almost universally feared, as it indicated an imperial order to commit suicide. While people may think only humans have phobias, Xanthophobia has been documented in sea turtles babies; it appears they use this fear as a way to visually help them find the sea after hatching!
Meningitis is a disease that causes an inflammation of the brain. The origin of the word meningi is Greek, and it refers to the membranes that enclose the brain and spinal cord. People who suffer from Meningitophobia have a deathly fear of getting brain disease.
Harper Lee, in her famous novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” wrote “…..you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ‘em or not.”Fearing your own roots, or the possible outcome of where or whom you came from, heredity, would be suffering from Patroiophobia. The feeling might be capable of working you into a complete “tizzy” if your family has a genetic pattern of developing certain afflictions, whether they are physical or mental in nature.
Do you know people who seem like they are always surround by gloom? Perpetually down in the dumps, and a just downers in general to be around? You might offer them sympathy, because they might be suffering from Euphobia, one of the most bizarre phobias, a fear of hearing good news. Just think, they may have winning lottery tickets in their pockets and are too afraid to go check their numbers? Be a pal and help them out, maybe they’ll split their winnings with you!
The movie character Forest Gump was fond of saying “stupid is as stupid does.” Which roughly means that an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid. Perhaps people of that ilk chose to be that way, or maybe they merely suffer from Gnosiophobia, a fear of knowledge. It’s not a common phobia, or at least it hasn’t been in the past, but it may be parts of our current society are elevating it to an art form. Manifestation of the malady would include avoiding school, reading, being receptive to people’s opinions, and avoiding all media, including radio, television, newspapers and magazines. It there’s new information offered, Ghosiophobes are apt to shun it.
Many phobias seem irrational to many people, but perhaps the most “out there” fears are ones that possess people who have virtually no earthly chance of ever being the position to even be exposed to their fears. Major Tom to Ground Control, in this category would probably fall Spacephobia, the fear of outer space.
The popular reality television show “Hoarders” presents tales of people who have a habit of accumulating all manner of stuff until it takes over their entire house, and makes life (or their home) nearly unlivable. They might suffer from Symmetrophobia, which is being afraid of symmetry, a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance
Living in a democracy has its pluses and minuses, but living in a non benevolent dictatorship can present a whole host of problems, including Tyrannophobia, a unnatural fear of tyrants. History has presented its share of tyrants, like Ivan the Terrible, Joseph Stalin, and Cambodia’s Pol Pot. But they are still around today, as witnessed by young Kim Jong in North Korea or the Kardashian’s mother.
Some things today are described with the word “closet.” Maybe you’re a closet singer, but you can only exercise you pipes at the local karaoke fest? If you’re an aspiring author, but you’ve discovered you can only write when you’re at home, you’re said to have Scriptophobia, one of the most bizarre phobias, a fear of writing in public. One wonders if this applies to signing the ticket the nice officer just gave you for going 72 in a 30?
Clinically known as the “umbillicus,” but familiarly as the belly button, dependent on how your obstetrician tied it off, yours can be described as an “innie” (a depression) or an “outie” (a protrusion). Not sure of what kind you have? Never looked? Then you probably suffer from Omphalophobia, an unnatural fear of the navel. Thankfully this dread only applies to human navels, and not oranges.
Most phobias names are derived from the addition of appropriate Greek or Latin words attached to the word phobia. Occasionally, when a new fear arises in society, the rule is ignored, and a word is completely made up to suit the situation. Such is the case with a new dread that affects, many, many people today, “nomophobia“, fear of being without mobile phone coverage. The term is simply a shortened version of “no-mobile-phone” phobia. Can you hear me now?
What if you have all of these maladies and many more? You’re afraid off everything? Then you suffer from one of the most bizarre phobias of all, Panophobia. Also called Omniphobia or Panphobia, the condition manifests itself as either an unspecified fear, or a general state of having a “vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.” Panophobia is generally not recognized as a specific type of phobia in modern day medical references.
While researchers still haven’t discovered what causes phobias, progress is being made on how they can be successfully treated. While triggers appear to include combinations of genetics, environment, brain chemistry or learned behavior, once a professional has an idea of what stimulus sets off your phobia, they may be able to prescribe a course of action to deal with them, which may include hypnosis, therapy, or medication.