“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear is natural. Every man, woman, child knows fear at some time or other. Many say that the purpose of human life is to overcome our worst fears. But what happens when our fears start to paralyze us? Fear, then turns into a phobia.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “a phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance…a phobia is long lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work or in social settings.”
Here are 10 of the weirdest phobias known to us
10. Nomophobia – Fear of Being without Mobile Phone Coverage
This is the one phobia that is increasingly gripping the world, scientists believe. The proliferation and dependency on mobile phones is now so great that most regular users seem to become extremely anxious and even depressed when out of mobile coverage or when their mobile phones are taken away. Nomophobes are almost incapable of turning off their phones and check their phones many times each hour. According to a US-based study 66 percent of all adults suffer from nomophobia. Studies from the UK throw up a similar figure. Globally the anxieties related to mobile usage are growing at an alarming rate.
9. Paraskavedekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th scares the daylights out of most people. Add to it the numerous paranormal books and movies that have been written and made about Friday the 13th have made the date synonymous with evil and paranormal mischief. When all the fear of Friday the 13th turns into a phobia, we have ‘Paraskavedekatriaphobia’. It could make people stay indoors when a 13th of a month happens to be a Friday. The mention or thought of Friday the 13th may cause a panic attack or an anxiety attack in the sufferer. All in all, despite being common this phobia is largely harmless.
8. Agoraphobia – Fear of Open Spaces
Agoraphobia is one of the commonest phobias, though it may not seems so at first look. It is an extreme and irrational fear of open spaces or public spaces. Sufferers experience panic attacks and extreme anxiety when left alone in public places such as in a crowd, in public transport, and in offices. Agoraphobia is also one of the most misunderstood of phobias, Sufferers do not always avoid going out. They feel safe in company and in the presence of family or friends when they can focus on their personal space. Agoraphobia and Frozen with Fear are two famous movies featuring people with this phobia.
7. Heliophobia – Fear of Sunlight
Heliophobia is extreme fear of sunlight or bright light. Despite being quite common, Heliophobia is not much talked about. In modern times, rumours that exposure to sunlight causes cancer has aggravated the tendency towards Heliophobia. This leads to avoidance of sunlight or overuse of sunblock lotions. A natural corollary to this phobia is a lack or deficiency of Vitamin D. Heliophobia may also be caused by an extreme case of sunburn. Like most other phobias it leads to severe anxiety and stress and sufferers avoid going out during the day.
6. Haphephobia – Fear of Touch
This is one rare and very distressing phobia – Haphephobia, the fear of touch. Touch is often the human way of sharing comfort, affection, and even support. Most people suffering from Haphephobia intensely fear being touched by anyone. If the phobia is a result of a sexual assault or a similar experience, the sufferers are afraid being touched by people of the opposite gender. In the long run a crippling Haphephobia is likely to cause loneliness and isolation. Therapy and support can go a long way in helping those suffering from the phobia.
5. Xanthophobia – Fear of the Color Yellow
Whatever else she feared, Dorothy certainly did not suffer from Xanthophobia. If she had she might not have been able to tread the yellow brick road to Oz. Xanthophobia is an irrational fear of the color yellow or the word Yellow. It is a form of Chromophobia or Chromatophobia (fear of colors). There are other known chromophobias such as Melanophobia (fear of the color black), and Cyanophobia (fear of the color blue). Xanthophobes are typically anxious or panic in the presence of yellow objects or in a predominantly yellow environment.
4. Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns
Ever since medieval times, clowns and jesters have been intricately entwined with social morality. Court clowns routinely made fun of knights and royals holding a mirror to all that is wrong, often making people uneasy. Fear of clowns or Coulrophobia is rather common in modern times. Often, full blown Coulrophobia is rare but many people report being uneasy in the presence of clowns and people with painted faces. This fear has been featured in a number of movies such as Stephen King’s It, Batman (Joker), and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
3. Ablutophobia – Fear of Washing/Bathing
This phobia, again, is a strange one. Ablutophobia is the persistent and exaggerated fear of bathing, washing, and sometimes cleaning. While all children avoid baths from time to time, children are more likely sufferers of Ablutophobia than adults and women more at risk of suffering from the phobia than men. Children who regularly cry and seem anxious in a bath for over 6 months are likely to suffer from Ablutophobia. A number of people said they developed Ablutophobia after watching Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Psycho.
2. Ombrophobia – Fear of Rain
“Rain, Rain, go away, Little Johnny wants to play” says a nursery rhyme. If it struck you as odd that a child may not want it to rain, it is time you learn about Ombrophobia or Pluviophobia an exaggerated fear of the rains. Children are more commonly found to suffer from this phobia. Anxiety attacks, hiding, crying, and trembling are common symptoms. It may also manifest as a great fear of lightning, flooding, or drowning. Sufferers of ombrophobia are threatened by dark skies and avoid going out even in a drizzle.
1. Panphobia – Fear of Everything
After having understood various weird phobias, let us look at Panphobia or Omniphobia (Pantophobia) – a fear of everything. Everything? Yes, this phobia is an exaggerated and irrational fear of an uncertain evil or something unknown leading the sufferer to be paralyzed in almost every aspect of life. Named after Pan, the Greek god of fear or panic and coined by Théodule-Armand Ribot in the year 1911, Panphobia was featured in the movie A Fantastic Fear of Everything. Panphobia is usually triggered by some traumatic personal experience or event and sufferers benefit greatly from therapy and medication.