Phobias are strange things, turning seemingly innocuous objects and situations into catalysts of fear. The following 19 phobias include some that are common knowledge, whereas others are a little more.. unorthodox. Can you get through the list unfazed, or is there something in there that gives you the chills?
1. Acrophobia – fear of heights
Probably the most ‘normal’ of all phobias. How high you have to go to start feeling it differs from person to person, but many will have at one time or another experienced a flipping stomach and spinning head when looking over the edge of a steep precipice. It’s completely natural to feel a fear response when in a situation that’s obviously dangerous, and some experts have even suggested that it’s those who don’t feel the fear of heights that have the problem.
However, some sufferers can’t escape the fear of falling even when the high place is completely safe, like being in the enclosed room at the top of Tokyo Tower, while others find themselves dizzy at a height of only a couple of meters.
2. Trypophobia – fear of objects with small holes close together
The name for this phobia was only coined in 2005, but there are a surprisingly huge number of people who suffer from this strange fear. It’s hard to give a specific definition of the trigger, but the basic idea is a revulsion and fear of things with clusters of small holes – think beehives, ant holes, and in particular lotus seed heads. Unfortunately for sufferers of this phobia, the Internet has found much joy in photoshopping lotus-pod designs onto various body parts. Google if you dare.
3. Megalophobia – fear of large things
This vague terms covers all ‘huge objects’. These are often objects such giant statues or works of art which are much bigger than the real thing they are mimicking. In the presence of such objects, people become overwhelmed and unable to move.
4. Coulrophobia – fear of clowns
We all known clowns are meant to make us laugh, but for some unfortunate folks the sight of a guy in pajamas with big colored buttons and a painted face sends them running. Perhaps it’s Stephen King’s It we have to thank for a generation of kids who have now grown up to be clown-phobic adults. A particular focus of fear is poor misunderstood Ronald McDonald. I know it’s hard to imagine people being frightened of him, I mean just look how completely normal, sane and non-homicidal that face is!
5. Aichmophobia – fear of sharp objects
Scissors, needles, pencils, knives, you name it – if it’s sharp, they’re scared of it. Sufferers enter a state of extreme psychological agitation when around objects with sharp, pointy ends. Of course anyone would be scared of a crazed person wielding a butcher knife at you, but a characteristic of this phobia is that the sufferer is scared of the object even when they know there is no danger of their being cut or injured. Some peoples’ fear is based around the irrational and disturbing worry that they might end up using a nearby pointed end to stab someone else.
6. Dysmorphophobia – fear of ugliness
Specifically, fear of one’s own ugliness. This is characterized by an extreme obsession with one’s appearance, and an unhealthily low opinion of one’s own looks. It’s often classified as a form of hypochondria and obsessive compulsive disorder, and can even develop into schizophrenia in the worst cases. Many sufferers get plastic surgery, but as this is a psychological condition, sufferers are unlikely to ever be satisfied with the results. Paradoxically, many people end up actually mutilating their own face or body.
7. Triskaidekaphobia – fear of the number 13
The number 13 has a long history of unluckiness in the Western world, leading some people to fear that seemingly innocuous pairing of a one and a three. And if the 13th of the month falls on a Friday, then it’s a double whammy. In Japan, Korea, and China, replace 13 with the number 4, which has all kinds of nasty connotations with death.
8. Fear of sink holes
No name for this rather specific phobia. Sufferers experience fear and unease upon seeing a sinkhole, particularly the glory holes used to drain water from dams. People describe the fear of being unable to see the bottom or of being sucked in. Some even describe the feeling that the sinkhole could be connected to some other terrible dimension, and the sense of an otherwordly force pulling them in.
9. Socmephobia – fear of social media
Not sure this is a genuine name, but I’m sure it’ll be popping up in medical journals in the next few years. Ever felt like it’s impossible to break away from the constant demands and conversations on social media such as facebook, twitter, or mixi, yet feel depressed after checking them, and not want to go back? Feelings of jealousy and failure after seeing your friends’ latest status update about their awesome job, or browsing through their pics from a fabulous fancy night out can lead to social isolation and inferiority complexes, triggering this phobia.
10. Scopophobia – fear of being stared at
The idea of being in the middle of a crowd of people all staring at you would be enough to rattle anyone (excluding reality TV stars). Sufferers of scopophobia often irrationally fear that everyone around is staring at them, paralysing them with fear and making their movements clumsy and awkward, drawing even more (perceived) stares. Consequently they dislike crowded places, and even rear-view mirrors. People with social anxiety also often fear being stared at.
11. Claustrophobia – fear of enclosed spaces
Here’s one everyone’s heard of. The fear of being in an enclosed space and unable to escape is probably most often exemplified in the being-buried-alive movie scenario. I’m pretty sure that this kind of situation would rattle even the bravest soul, but for some people the scope is widened to elevators, trains, and even just rooms where the door is closed.
12. Ectophobia – fear of vomit
Vomit. No ones likes to do it, no one likes to see it. But it’s a fact of life that sometimes just can’t be avoided, whether you’re struck down with norovirus, or waking up with a pounding hangover and a stomach full of dubious late-night kebab. Someone looking a bit green is likely to send the sufferer of this phobia into a panic, and they’ll generally avoid anywhere that they or other people may throw up, such as rollercoasters and boats. Some experts suggest that painful childhood experiences of vomiting, or the trauma of having been vomited on by someone else can be at the root of this phobia.
13. Spectrophobia – fear of mirrors
A spooky silhouette glimpsed out of the corner of your eye as you’re checking your hair will give anyone the creeps, but imagine being scared of even your own reflection. The world is surprisingly full of mirrors, from department store fitting rooms, tiny drug store mirrors to check your makeup, and of course the mirrors on every car. Beauty and hair salons are of course the worst culprit, and this phobia can seriously interfere with a person’s daily life.
14. Pediophobia – fear of dolls
For some it’s just the frozen faces of porcelain dolls; for others it’s ones that talk or move. Some people’s fear centres around a specific type of doll, while others fear all kinds and will go out of their way not to encounter any. The reason for the fearful reaction is probably something to do with dolls’ resemblance to living human beings, leading the brain to become confused over whether this still, inanimate object is alive or not. And to be honest, who hasn’t at one point in their childhood woken up in the night and mistaken a discarded doll or teddy for a malicious intruder? What do you mean, it’s just me?
15 Arachnophobia – fear of spiders (Anyone remember that movie?)
This is one of the most common phobias, with women being the most likely to be affected. Some experts suggest that it may be an amplified form of a response that helped humans survive in the past, while others believe it’s a cultural phenomenon as it seems to be most prevalent in Western countries. The response is usually irrational, especially in places like the UK where spiders are not only non-venomous, but also unlikely to grow larger than your little fingernail. If you’re in Australia, however, you might be considered a little more rational.
16. Odontophobia – fear of dentists
A trip to the dentist probably isn’t going to make most people’s ‘top 10 things I love to do’ list, but most of us can put up with it with just a mild feeling of unease. Some people, however, have such a strong reaction that they are unable to attend the dentist even when in dire need. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of a painful cavity you can get an idea of just how intense this fear can be when a person would rather live with that pain then take a trip to the dentist’s chair.
17. Telephonophobia – fear of telephones
The fear of using the telephone can develop to the point where the sufferer panics even when hearing the sound of a ringtone. This fear of receiving a call can lead to an oversensitivity to noises and auditory hallucinations. And it’s not just the sound – setting the phone to vibrate doesn’t help, and the sufferer will instead imagine their pocket is vibrating even when it’s completely still. This is known as phantom vibration syndrome. It must be very difficult to live with this in an age of mobile phones, where calls can follow you wherever you go.
18. Mysophobia – fear of dirt
This involves a fear of being contaminated by bacteria and germs which, being invisible to the naked eye, can be felt by the phobic person to be crawling everywhere even in the cleanest-looking environment. Sufferers of this phobia often display the stereotypical OCD behavior of washing their hands over and over, as they never feel like they’re completely clean. This complusive act just serves to make the sufferer more aware of their state of (un)cleanliness, and thus reinforcing the cycle.
19. Masklophobia – fear of mascots/costumes
It’s not the size, or even the bizarreness of the concept that scares people, but rather the expressionless, staring faces of the costumes. Especially for children, who gaze at people’s faces to work out their feelings through their expressions, the blank, unchanging face of the mascot can be especially freaky. (That explains all the crying babies at Disneyland). Such a stone-still face indicates death, and the unfamiliar sight of a huge mascot with a dead face moving around is like the dead have come to life! Yep, the fear of mascots is basically like a fear of zombies, and we can’t really say that’s irrational.
Source: Naver Matome
Images: Wikimedia Commons