Top 10 Bizarre Fears and Phobias

Suggested by SMS

Fear. Most people crave it, whether it’s going to see a scary movie, walking home through the alley instead of on the sidewalk or taking a deep breath and finally getting on a theme park’s latest insane invention, fear works like a drug. It can make you feel alive, adventurous, or just plain excited. But while the fear we seek is for fun, the stuff that just shows up built into our wiring is an entirely different species. Heights, spiders, snakes, and nuclear war are some of the best examples of fear that many of us share. But fear is trickier then that, because even though a spider might be behind a sturdy glass window at the zoo a lot of people still can’t bring themselves to get too close, or even go near the building. This is the irrational fear, the stuff that keeps us up at night worrying about what could happen, and what might be.

So what happens when you become afraid of other things? The worst, worst fears in the world, if you like, the ones that sound funny, until you really think about them. We’re not talking fear of germs here, as debilitating as that might be. We’re going further than that. Here is a list of the top 10 worst fears in the world, not because more people believe them, not because they are outlandish or strange but because, like any good horror story, they are based in the nightmare of every day things.

10. Nomophobia – (No-mobile-phone-phobia)


This one is first on the list because it is not yet a phobia, but it seems to be going that way. At the moment we can all rest easy and call this a little silly, but a poll commissioned by the English Post Office might give us all reason to re-consider. Apparently 53 per cent of English people polled said they felt anxiety about being out of cell phone range, losing a connection, or forgetting their phone. That’s not exactly big news is it? After all it’s only natural to get annoyed by things like that. But if you look a little closer you’ll start to see the beginnings of something else. This is not just annoyance, its anxiety! Okay it’s not exactly fear yet, but it’s growing, and one day not to far into the future we may actually hear of a recorded case of debilitating fear due to the lack of cell phone signal. The scary thing is that if this newly coined fear were to turn into an outright phobia, the world probably wouldn’t even notice until it was too late. How many teenagers do no without a cell phone? They’ll be the older generation one day; so how many of they’re grandchildren do you think will go without a phone? One day someone might lose their phone and find out they can’t continue to function until they find out where it is.

9. Emetophobia – Vomit


This affects a lot more people then you might think, and it goes beyond the general dislike everyone feels about vomiting. The phobia, like all phobias, is an irrational fear and the people experiencing realize this. Some research has suggested that people suffering from the condition have an ‘internal locus’ rather than an ‘external locus.’ Essential this means that people suffering from emetophobia believe things to be under their control, whereas people with external loci accept that some things simply aren’t. As we all know vomiting it not something you have a choice in and people suffering from emetophobia fear facing this lack of control. But the phobia can also be based on the sight, smell, or sound of vomiting. It can inhibit someone’s day to day life in a number of ways. People suffering from emetophobia might refuse to eat out for fear of food poisoning, they can be excessively concerned with food hygiene, avoid hospitals when having stomach problems and put of getting pregnant all together because of morning sickness. The fear is often linked to heights because and the disorientation feeling of looking down that makes you feel nauseous.

8. Ablutophobia – Bathing


Ever met someone and wondered why they smell so bad? Well they might just be suffering from ablutophobia. This is the irrational fear of bathing, washing or cleaning your self and is usual traced back to a childhood trauma but it can also result from seeing someone else get in trouble in the water, even on television! Somewhere in the mass of wiring we call the brain the incident can get connected to the act of bathing, showering, and washing with water and by avoiding it the person thinks they can escape the hazard. As with all phobias the people who suffer from ablutophobia are aware that it is an irrational fear, but fear’s funny like that, just because you know something probably won’t happen, doesn’t stop you thinking about what could happen.

7. Gephyrophobia – Bridges


Most of the phobias here are ‘specialty phobias’ which means that they are linked to one of the bigger, more commonly known fears. Gephyrophobia is no different and is often linked with the fear of heights, or open spaces. This phobia recently had some press mention in the New York Times when they wrote an article about a woman suffering from the condition in January 2008. In this article it was pointed out that the Tappan Zee Bridge inspired such terror in people that New York State actual provides a driver for those who just can’t bring themselves to cross on their own. Gephyrophobiacs suffer this kind of fear regularly, never mind on a bridge that would scar anyone, and if they are unfortunate enough to live in an area where bridges are used a lot then they are known to drive miles out of their way to avoid them.

6. Gynophobia – Women


Not to be confused with misogyny, the loathing or hatred of women, gynophobia is an irrational fear of women. The myths of Amazonian warrior women, the fear present in latter day witch-hunts could be symptoms of gynophobia. Perhaps. But the condition is not a hatred of women, but a fear of women. Just like with bathing or vomiting, the gynophobic do not have to believe that the subject of their fear is evil. These aren’t the people hurting women, but the ones cowering in corners worried that a woman might be out to get them.

5. Phagophobia – Swallowing


A specific phobia often confused with other conditions and phobias. People suffering from phagophobia complain that they have difficulty swallowing but there is no physical condition hampering them. This was why it was originally named ‘choking phobia’ because it was often brought on by experiencing or witnessing a choking fit. But that lead to the assumption that the people suffering phagophobia were actual afraid of chocking. In fact it is an intense anxiety about swallowing. Not to be confused with a fear of eating, these people have no problem with food, but find it scary to swallow. It can often be overlook as a dietary problem like anorexia or bulimia since without being able to swallow sufferers often exhibit sever weight loss. But some less affected cases may eat an entirely liquid diet.

4. Tetraphobia – Four


A fear of the number four. This condition is found most often in the Eastern world because of the similarity between the Chinese word ‘four, and ‘death’ (In most dialects anyway.) The same pattern persists in some Japanese and Korean languages. As such this might be considered a fear rather then a phobia, but it is irrational and people do go out of their way to avoid the number four in a variety of situations such as during festivals and when a family member is ill, or missing. Elevators in the West often leave out the number ‘13’ for the same reason, and reversely in the East elevators and room numbers often avoid using the number 4. It makes number four on the list, mainly because it is good irony, but also because it has a large hold on a large culture.

3. Coulrophobia – Send in the clowns


Who wouldn’t put the fear of clowns, (and mimes), on a list like this? Perhaps a better question is who doesn’t feel a little fear about the funny men in big pants and red noses? But coulrophobia is actually a much more acute sensation then the rest of us feel, and Bonzo has been known to give some people panic attacks, dizzy spells, and feelings of detachment along with the poodle shaped balloon. It is of course more common in children, and some studies have shown that clown designs on hospital wall paper are a bad idea, but there are many adults suffering from the condition. Still it seems likely that most coulrophobia originates from childhood incidents. It may be linked to the fear of having your own face covered, (with paint in the case of clowns), but it might also stem from a distrust of people who hide their faces. (Bank robbers, muggers, and people like that. Or perhaps even John Gracy the serial killer who liked to dress up as a clown at parties.) Not to be hard on the men and women of the clown industry but it seems that clowns offer themselves to coulrophobia sufferers as untrustworthy and dangerous.

2. Phobophobia – There’s nothing to fear but fear itself


Can you beat that? Well we’ll see when we get to number 1, but at the moment let’s consider the fear, of fear. It is liked with anxiety disorders and more common phobias like agoraphobia, (the fear of the market place, or the outdoors in today’s language.) But it is more commonly describes as a fear of fears, or a fear of developing phobias. People suffering from this disorder often have anxiety issues to begin with and phobophobia is the result of being so afraid of the internal consequences of anxiety. In other words a person can get so afraid of the sensation of anxiety that they become petrified of it happening again. As has been said before a phobia is an irrational fear and phobophobia is about as irrational as you can get. No matter what the old saying says. In the end this makes number two just for the way it twists your head around trying to understand it.

1. Autophobia (or Monophobia) – Fear yourself


This phobia has to be the worst, right? The condition can simply mean ‘the fear of being alone,’ which I suppose we can all understand. But a rarer version of the phobia is actual being afraid of, or not trusting, your self. How exactly do you deal with that kind of thing? Symptoms of the condition included breathlessness and dry mouth to nausea, heart palpitations and a sensation of detachment. The way out? Well, besides some current therapies being developed and plugged on the Internet autophobics have the same options as every one else: Long and involved therapy, hypnosis maybe? The statistics for curing autophobia are low, sometimes as low as 5 per cent, and in the mean time you are irrationally afraid of yourself- because you don’t trust you and you might just hurt you. Get it? In any case this is perhaps the one fear, besides phobohobia, that truly does follow you wherever you go.