Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weird Things People Are Afraid Of

I enjoy watching horror movies. (A lot.) I also read quite a few horror novels and some pretty gruesome mysteries and thrillers. So I'm not someone who's easily scared. That's not to say that I'm not afraid of anything. Because there are a few things I'm scared of.

I'm not acrophobic (afraid of heights), nyctophobic (afraid of the dark), or particularly arachnophobic (afraid of spiders). I don't suffer from glossophobia (fear of speaking in public), mysophobia (fear of germs), murophobia (fear of mice/rats), or even trypanophobia (fear of needles/injections).

I'm probably a little hoplophobic (afraid of firearms), but only because I don't know enough about weapons to feel confident or safe around them. I am slightly necrophobic (afraid of death), but not because of where I'm going – I'm more afraid of the experience of dying, especially of an extremely painful death. Now that we're expecting a child, even though I personally won't be the one giving birth, I'm also slightly tokophobic (afraid of childbirth). Even though I never knew there was a name for it, I guess I've always been a little taphophobic, too (afraid of being buried alive) – there's probably a direct correlation between this one and all the horror fiction I've read. But above anything else, I would say that I suffer the most from phobophobia (the fear of having a phobia) – just knowing that I could suddenly develop an irrational yet irrepressible fear of some random thing – like pickles, for example – is enough to make me incredibly paranoid.

There are, however, a number of phobias which I do not suffer from, and which – to be quite honest – I can't understand why anyone would suffer from. But apparently they do, and there are even clinical (though not universally recognized) names for these phobias to further legitimize them. From a plethora of "weird phobias," I present the following list:

1)  Chaetophobia – fear of hair.  Chaetophobiacs may fear human or animal hair, or both. Often, the fear is generated by a person or animal with excessive amounts of hair. A chaetophobic person may also fear their own body hair. Some chaetophobiacs only fear detached or loose hair. As with many phobias, chaetophobia is often the result of a previous negative experience with an excessively hairy person or animal, or a horrifying encounter with a clump of clipped hair in one's past.

2)  Anthophobia – fear of flowers.  Although people who suffer from this fear generally understand that flowers pose no actual threat to them – either through violence inflicted on their person by said flowers, or by potential diseases that could be contracted through direct contact with them – anthophobiacs invariably experience anxiety at the sight or thought of flowers. Sometimes it is not the flower itself that causes this intense fear, but the petals or the stem of the flower.

3)  Emetophobia – fear of vomiting.  The exact nature of emetophobia varies from person to person. Some have a fear of vomiting in public, while others fear the sight of vomit, and still others fear becoming nauseated while watching someone else vomit. This is actually the fifth most common of all recognized phobias, and can be triggered at any time and at any age, and is not specific to a gender or demographic. Interestingly enough, most emetophobiacs rarely, if ever, actually vomit themselves.

4)  Bovinophobia – fear of cattle.  People suffering from bovinophobia can experience severe anxiety and even panic attacks when in the presence of cows. Often, a bovinophobic person has had a bad experience with a cow in the past, while others simply hold a strong belief that a cow or bull will charge them if they get too close to it.

5)  Gephyrophobia – fear of bridges.  Oftentimes, a gephyrophobiac is not just afraid of bridges. Bridges are but one part of a larger set of fears which comprise the individual's anxiety disorder. This serious disorder has caused the New York Thruway Authority, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the Mackinac Bridge Authority all to offer a service in which they will drive the cars of gephyrophobiacs across their respective bridges (provided that the sufferer will call in advance to arrange for this service). Apparently, thousands of drivers take advantage of this free program each year.

6)  Ephebiphobia – fear of teenagers.  Not yet officially being a parent – in particular, not being a parent of a teenage child – I cannot fathom this fear just yet. But if you are, or have been, the parent of a teenager, you may have experienced this particular fear. In all seriousness, this "fear" is better described as an "inaccurate, exaggerated, and sensational characterization of young people." So, instead of actual fear, it's more like, well...prejudice against teenagers. I can't fathom that one, either.

7)  Agyrophobia – fear of crossing the road.  Crossing the road never bothered the chicken, or even The Beatles. But apparently, this is a legitimate phobia which many people suffer from. Agyrophobiacs fear that crossing roads will cause bodily harm to themselves, even when no actual threat is posed (i.e., the coast is clear).

8)  Chromophobia – fear of bright colors.  I can't find a whole lot of information about this one, but I'm pretty sure I've encountered a few people who suffer from this. Pretty much everyone who identifies with the "goth" style of all-black-everything, including hair and lip color, at least seems to be chromophobic. Then there's your death metal bands, who aren't exactly known for wearing chartreuse tank tops or pastel pink pants...

9)  Omphalophobia – fear of bellybuttons.  In particular, this phobia describes someone who is afraid of having their bellybutton touched or tugged on by themselves or someone else. Omphalophobic people are also often afraid of seeing other people touch their own bellybutton. Some omphalophobiacs are okay with seeing an untouched navel, while others may become nauseous from just seeing a picture of a navel. Hopefully you're not one of the latter, because you're about to see a picture of a bellybutton. Sorry!

10)  Papaphobia – fear of the Pope.  Papaphobia is more fully described as an intense fear or dread of the Pope, or of the Roman Catholic Church. I'm guessing this has more than a little to do with the guilt trips the RCC is constantly putting on its followers (or so I've heard from people in the know). It certainly can't be an actual fear of some harmless old man, can it? Well, I don't know...

11)  Oikophobia – fear of household appliances.  This particular phobia specifically refers to an aversion to one's home surroundings, but can also be used more generally to denote an abnormal fear of the contents of one's house, including household appliances, equipment, bathtubs, household chemicals, and other common objects in the home. This must be what some husbands who refuse to help out around the house suffer from...conveniently. (I'm not one of them, though.)

12)  Tetraphobia – fear of the number 4.  This particular phobia is very common in East Asia and Southeast Asia. That's because in the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages, the word for "four" sounds very similar to – and is, in some cases, identical to – the word for "death." This superstitious fear is so prevalent in many countries in that region of the world, that any floor number containing the number 4 (the 14th, 24th, or 40th floor, for example) is often skipped in buildings, including in hotels, office buildings, apartments, and especially hospitals. Weird...but true!

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