I’ve recently come across a couple of interesting phobia lists, and being the OCD head I am, I decided to carefully go through the lists to see which applied to me.
The Phobia List is a straight-up dictionary of phobias, in alphabetical order. Here are some of the phobias that have applied to me at various points:
- Agateophobia: The fear of insanity. Who’s not afraid of insanity?
- Aviophobia or aviatophobia: The fear of flying. This used to be a big one in my book. The thought of being in a metal tube hurling across the sky with no safety net below terrified me. Because of that, there were many years I didn’t travel beyond what I could do by car. I got over it, though, and love flying today.
- Brontophobia: The fear of thunder and lightning. This one dogged me as a kid. There was one storm when I was about 10 that made it pitch-black outside at 1 in the afternoon, and for a long time after that every clap of thunder hit me like a whip to the back. I don’t feel this one so much anymore, but there are still occasions where a good storm will rattle me.
- Claustrophobia: The fear of confined spaces. I used to find confined spaces safe and cozy. Now I can’t stand them. I much prefer big, open spaces.
- Iatrophobia: The fear of going to the doctor or of doctors. I avoided doctors for several years because of this. Then I went to the other extreme, running to the doctors for everything. I don’t fear doctors today, though I have met many who are so incompetent that they should be feared. But I’ve know some outstanding doctors, too.
Some of the items on this list surprised me and even made me laugh at first. Then I realized how cruel life would be to hand a person such fears:
- Anthrophobia or anthophobia: The fear of flowers.
- Bibliophobia: The fear of books.
- Dendrophobia: The fear of trees.
- Francophobia: The fear of France or French culture.
- Geumaphobia or Geumophobia: The fear of taste.
The other site is The ABC of Fears: The Famous People’s Phobias. It’s actually the website for a leather-bound book of art focusing on different phobias. Here are a few pages:
It didn’t take long before I gave up scouring these sites; the lists are just too vast. We all have our little fears, and if you look long enough at a list, you’re bound to see a bit of yourself in many of the definitions. I’m no doctor, but I don’t think you automatically have a phobia if you tend to fear or loathe certain things. The question is whether they make our lives unmanageable.
If you never leave the house and avoid all human contact for fear of catching a disease, for example, it’s a safe bet that you have a phobia. If you simply find certain things unpleasant, such as doctors or certain foods, but you’re able to deal with them, it’s probably not a clinical phobia.
The good news is that phobias don’t have to dog us for life. Or so I’ve learned from personal experience.