by staff on September 18, 2011
Suffering from a fear of spiders or being petrified of great heights are common phobias. But your average aracnophobiac or acrophobiac has it easy compared to those unlucky people who suffer from the type of phobias that can stymie even the simplest of every day tasks. Here then are ten totally impractical phobias that could well put your daily life on hold — although no one’s yet to coin a phobia for trying to pronounce them all.
Those troubled souls who suffer from fatal peanut allergies may grab all the headlines, but spare a thought for the world’s arachibutyrophobiacs, for whom the very texture of peanut butter is enough to give them the shakes. Yep, for some people the nutty feel of peanut butter coating the inside of their mouth is a legitimate phobia. And it’s not just the lunchtime sandwich run that presents a potential danger: these days there’s a smorgasbord of peanut-butter-based delicacies that are also on the no-go list, like chewy peanut-butter brownies and even swanky desert-style peanut-butter martinis. Mom’s hastily slapped together peanut-butter and jelly lunches have a lot to answer for.
Print media may be suffering in light of the Internet’s rapid rise, but sometimes there’s nothing more relaxing wiling away the afternoon by sitting back in a comfy chair, with a brew of choice, and a good old-fashioned book in your hand. Unless, of course, you’re what’s diagnosed as a bibliophobiac, which results in a fear of books. In this case, the very idea of the act of reading brings about a form of nervousness which can soon escalate into bouts of sweating and ultimately a panic-attack. Adding a nuance to the phobia, sub-sets of bibliophobia exist, with some people finding themselves fearful of only certain types of books — say, science text-books or artsy, over-sized coffee table books. And seeking salvation in the world of downloadable e-books isn’t always the answer for a bibliophobe, as often it’s the thought of reading and not necessarily the physical book that sets off an attack.
Vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians usually claim to avoid meat on either health or ethical grounds — which is fine, as it just leaves more of that gourmet bacon for the rest of us. But full-on carnophobiacs go a step further in avoiding anything that used to resemble a cow, pig or chicken, being that they are genuinely scared of meat. As in frightened, petrified, terrified, and liable to scream like an animal who’s finally realized just what goes on inside that ol’ slaughterhouse. Along with the usual phobic symptoms of feelings of anxiety and panic, carnophobia can also cause nausea and dry mouth in the sufferer — traits which will hardly make you the ideal dinner date. The only solution? Do the compassionate thing and let those animals live.
Self-referential phobia shenanigans ahoy! As its name suggests, phobophobia is simply a fear of other phobias. So even wondering whether you have a phobia can itself become a phobia, and soon result in a vicious circle of panic and despair. In many cases, phobophobia is itself sparked by another phobia: If you suffer from a fear of flying, realizing that you have a fear and thinking about it can then become a phobia in itself, and the more you contemplate the idea of phobias the greater the risk of suffering a bout of anxiety is. Which means for phobophobiacs, this is just about the scariest list you could ever peruse.
No one goes anywhere without their smart phone clutched in their hand these days. Whether it’s an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry, keeping in touch and staying up with the social network grind is a constant consideration around the clock. But what happens when your cellphone service goes out? For most people, they’ll grumble and curse out their provider, until it magically pops back in. But if you suffer from nomophobia then the scenario is a whole lot more serious, as the lack of ability to use your cellphone can indue a full-on freak-out episode. The name of the fear stems from a study conducted by the UK post office — it’s a shortening of “no mobile phone phobia.” And while the idea of being without your cellphone for a few hours is far from a life-threatening matter, these days the constant pressure to stay in touch and respond to emails and other digital correspondence immediately can quickly become epidemic and develop into a genuine case of nomophobia. So next time your service stops working, just relax and enjoy the hiatus.
Some confident individuals cannot pass a glass window without taking a sneak peak at their own reflection, such is their level of vanity. But deep down at the other end the spectrum exist those spectrophobiacs, who posses a dread of ever witnessing their own reflection in a mirror. The fear doesn’t just creep in while staring at a full-length mirror to check out today’s outfit in the morning either, with the inside of elevators and most restaurants, bars and coffee shops all using mirrors to create illusions of depth and space in their environment. Suddenly, the daily cycle of commuting to work, taking a lunch-break and then enjoying happy hour drinks with colleagues becomes a tricky and treacherous case of avoiding mirrors.
Global warming is no joke — just ask the polar bears and their ever-decreasing icebergs. It’s also given us some sweltering summers of late, which has been terrible news for heliophobiacs, who have a mortal fear of the sunlight that even SPF 100 can’t cure. Research suggests that heliophobia is at heart triggered by an underlying sensitivity to light — so simply finding yourself in an excessively illuminated place can be as stressful as being out in the blazing summer’s sun. But in either case, that night-shift position has never looked so appealing.
The internet may dominate the world these days, and it’s unlikely you ever go a day without logging on to Facebook or checking in to the latest social-networking app. Many people would even cop to being all-out addicted to the Internet. For a few unlucky members of society though, the idea of loading up a browser or clicking on a no-doubt-hilarious YouTube link of a cat stuck inside a window pane can cause ripples of severe panic to pulse through their body. For some interphobes, it’s the intangible nature of the Internet that strikes fear into them, and they will actively seek out jobs and social circles that shun the online world. Thankfully though, if you’ve read this far on the list it’s safe to assume that you’re immune from interphobia.
Sandwich or bagel? Coffee or tea. PC or Mac? For most of us, making choices is an opportunity to make sure that we get what we want and the way that we want it. But for anyone suffering from decidophobia, the very act of making a decision brings on a high case of anxiety. Whether it’s based on a fear of making the wrong choice, or wondering what unfortunate consequences might stem from the decision, decidophobiacs often find themselves socially paralyzed and looking for others — whether a spouse or friend — to take control and make their choices for them. Employing a personal life-coach would be the obvious answer to curing this one, but then how would you ever make the decision on who to hire in the first place?
Translating as a grave fear of being looked at by another person, scopophobiacs are consigned to leading a life based around constantly avoiding large crowds, public places, and, well, anywhere there’s likely to be other people about. So, basically anywhere other than the sanctuary of their own private home. A scopophobic’s usual reaction to being stared at by a stranger is to cover their face and eyes with their hands, effectively shielding themselves from the other person’s seemingly penetrating glare. Hypnotherapy is often prescribed as a solution to scopophobia, and medical research has suggested that schizophrenics are particularly susceptible to acquiring the phobia — although if you find yourself suffering the double whammy of being afflicted by both scopophobia and spectrophobia, you might as well start dimming the lights now (unless you suffer from achluophobia, a fear of the darkness).