Phobias: The Strange, the Common and the Intriguing – Part 1
by Carolyn Lee Apr 15, 2019
We all have things that we get anxious about. Many of our anxieties are related to life, relationships, and goals. However, some fears can be crippling. These are categorised as phobias.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, ‘a phobia is a persistent unrealistic fear of a person, animal, activity or situation.’ It is classified as an anxiety disorder.
Children with specific phobias usually get over them within a few months. A large percentage of adults with new phobias are at risk for becoming chronic (long term) if not properly treated.
Many of us are familiar with phobias such as fear of heights (acrophobia) and fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia). However, there is a long list of other phobias that are not as common.
Let’s have a look at some unusual phobias and what they mean.
- Spectrophobia: fear of mirrors, which can also be related to the fear of ghosts or the undead.
- Hedonophobia: fear of experiencing pleasure. This may be related to living ascetically.
- Gephyrophobia: fear of bridges. This fear may also be a result of claustrophobia (enclosed spaces) and acrophobia (fear of heights).
- Scopophobia: fear of being stared at. This could also be classified as a social disorder.
- Aichmophobia: Fear of sharp objects including needles, knives, pencils, protruding edges, pointing a finger or umbrella.
- Cibophobia: fear of food, particularly, the food they haven’t made themselves or that contains an unfamiliar ingredient. This phobia should not be confused with eating disorders like anorexia. It is not related to body image.
- Emetophobia: fear of vomiting or vomit. It can be triggered by a single traumatic event (severe stomach flu), witnessing someone vomit or vomiting in public.
- Tetraphobia: fear of the number four. This is mainly common among East Asians, where the number four is nearly homophonous to the Chinese word for ‘death.’ This fear is similar to the belief that many westerners have about the number 13.
- Phagophobia: fear of swallowing. This fear usually triggers a strong gag reflex. It can lead to other phobias and cause serious health problems.
- Taphophobia: fear of being buried alive. This could result from a childhood experience of being trapped. Someone with taphophobia also fears interment, as a result of being falsely pronounced dead.
Some people with specific phobias usually try to avoid the things that trigger it. However, if you believe that you have a phobia that is seriously impacting you, speaking to a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist is a good first step to make.
Which of these phobias surprised you?
Join us for Part 2 where we take a closer look at some of these phobias, the causes, symptoms and how they can be treated.