Patrick Eng
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Week 17 - Learning About Some Rare and Weird Phobias

I'll preface this post by acknowledging the sick bastards that put images of whatever people have a phobia of next to the description of that phobia. As someone who has Trypophobia, it's pretty annoying to Google it and see 5,000 images of things with holes in them and smashing my keyboard and mouse in a frantic attempt to close the browser.

So, there will be no images of Genghis Khan when I cover the fear of tyrants (tyrannophobia), or any pictures of a boat at sea for those who fear sea travel (Thalassophobia).

As per tradition, we'll start off with trying to define what phobias are and why people have them.

Phobias are generally defined as an extreme and/or irrational fear of something. Those who have phobias and encounter that thing they are afraid of could experience a whole spectrum of reactions, from slight annoyances to complete incapacitation.

Even though the 19 million Americans or so with specific phobias may realize that their fears don't make sense, they can't stop their inherent responses to those triggers.


Causes of phobias tend to come from some sort of traumatic event and can stem from interacting with family members who have anxiety disorders to getting bit by a spider as a child. Brain injuries, substance abuse, and depression have also been linked to the development of phobias.

Unlike mental illnesses, those who have phobias are not disconnected from reality, as someone with schizophrenia would be.


Agoraphobia is essentially the fear of being in open, public, and crowded spaces that you aren't able to get away from.

Social Phobia

As it sounds, social phobia (or social anxiety) is the fear or worry of social situations. Social phobias can be so bad that even ordering your passport and the lady asking how old you are and you completely forget because you absolutely despise talking to people on the phone and panic and ask your co-worker to figure out how old you are. What a strangely specific situation…

While many people fear things, it can't be classified as an actual phobia unless it interferes with your daily life.

Common Phobias

  1. Glossophobia: the fear of speaking in front of an audience/general performance anxiety (more so than usual, because almost everyone experiences this)

  2. Acrophobia: the extreme fear of heights

  3. Claustrophobia: the fear of enclosed or small spaces

  4. Aviophobia: the fear of flying

  5. Dentophobia: the fear of dentists or dental procedures (usually forming after some traumatic experience)

  6. Hemophobia: the fear of blood

  7. Arachnophobia: the fear of spiders

  8. Cynophobia: the fear of dogs

  9. Ophidiophobia: the fear snakes

  10. Nyctophobia: the fear of the nighttime or darkness

Symptoms of Phobias

When your phobia is triggered, you'll probably notice. Shocking, I know.

The symptoms of phobias are pretty similar to panic attacks:

  • Elevated heartbeat

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dry mouth

  • Nausea

  • Shaking

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness

  • Feelings of impending doom

  • Heavy sweating


The most common treatment for phobias involves exposing the patient to the very thing they are afraid of, but in a safe and controlled setting. This cognitive behavioral therapy can help reduce the severity of the phobia and is used to help change the associations people have formed about their particular fears and replace them with good experiences.

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1. Xanthophobia - the fear of the color yellow

You're in a real bind here considering how many golden arches are out there. People with this phobia fear things with the color yellow, from the sun to daffodils, and can be so bad that even the word yellow triggers them.

2. Turophobia - the fear of cheese

Stay away from Italy or any pizza joint, as one glimpse of parmesan can send turophobes running.

3. Somniphobia - fear of falling asleep

Helpful if you are ever in a Day 5 scenario, and just exhausting in every other situation. Those who suffer from somniphobia generally associate it with dying, losing control, nightmares, or thinking that they are wasting time by sleeping.

4. Coulrophobia - fear of clowns

Ah, a classic. The fear of those sometimes joyful sometimes mass murdering characters that we've all grown to love-hate. Coulrophobia is actually quite common, and probably will stay that way.

5. Hylophobia - the fear of trees

Those who suffer from Hylophobia are terrified or wood, trees, and forests. This normally comes from hearing childhood stories about what happens in forests and can be triggered just by going on a walk outside.

6. Omphalophobia - the fear of bellybuttons

There are people out there who are afraid of seeing, thinking about, and touching belly buttons, regardless of if it's theirs or not. This fear is usually linked with the belly buttons connection to the umbilical cord/womb.

7. Nomophobia - the fear of being without mobile phone coverage

Talk about 1st world problems. Nomophobia is the fear of losing cell phone coverage, running out of battery, or even just not being able to see your phone.

8. Ombrophobia - the fear of rain

The fear of rain is usually linked to people being told as children to not go out in the rain or else they'll get sick.

9. Papaphobia - the fear of the pope

This one is pretty uncommon, as it generally manifests due to some traumatic experience with the pope. It is closely linked to the fear of holy people or things (Hierophobia and hagiophobia).

10.  Uranophobia - the fear of heaven

The fear of the sky or the afterlife, usually associated with religious individuals and the idea of being judged after death.

11. Pogonophobia - the fear of beards

The fear of beards was coined in the 1850's and has plagued people ever since.

12. Trypophobia - the fear of holes

While not recognized as an official phobia by some, I can speak from personal experience that things with holes in them are absolutely unnatural and need to get filled in. Everytime I look or think about something with holes in them, it feels like needles are poking my spine and skull. 0/10 would not recommend.

14. Triskaidekaphobia - the fear of the number thirteen

The number 13 has always had unlucky connotations, hence the irrational fear. People who suffer from Triskaidekaphobia make sure to not do anything on those days or that many times or just anything that involves that number.

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Continuing my quest to learn more about random and weird fears, we now encounter Merriam-Webster's version.

1. Haphephobia - the fear of being touched

Originating from the Greek work haptein which translates to bringing two things together. You can also see this "hapt" base in English with words like haptics, which deals with communicating through touch.

2. Doraphobia - the fear of touching animal fur/skin

Originating from the Greek work dora which translates to the skin or fur of an animal. The Greek verb derein which translates to to skin or flay and the word derm which translates to skin, also finds its place in English under the word dermatology (study of skin).

3. Eremophobia - the fear of being alone

Stemming from the Greek word eremia which translates to a desert, a place you usually don't find too many people.

4. Ergophobia - the fear of work

Coming from the Greek word ergon which translates to work, and finds its place in the English language under ergonomics and ergometer,

5. Hypnophobia - the fear of falling asleep

Originating from the Greek word hypnos which translates to sleep.

6. Brontophobia - the fear of thunder

Originating from the Greek word bronto which translates to thunder. We can see this in English when we talk about the Brontosaurus, or thunder lizard.

7. Kakorrhaphiophobia - the fear of failure

Stemming from the Greek word kakorrhaphia which translates to a devious plot, and finding its place in English in the word cacophony.

8. Ophidiophobia - the fear of snakes

Coming from the Greek word ophis which translates to snake.

9. Taphephobia - the fear of being buried alive

Originating from the Greek word taphe which translates to grave or burial, and finding its way into the English language in the word epitaph.

10. Phobophobia - the fear of getting a phobia (the fear of being afraid)

Originating from the Greek word phobos which translates to flight or fear. It's getting real meta.

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Too Long; Didn't Read

Everyone is afraid of something. If you don't think you are, then you're afraid of the truth.

Learning about phobias online is strange because the exact thing you would be afraid of surrounds the definition. So while I was trying to learn about trypophobia, I was covering parts of the screen with my hands so I didn't have to look at some of the pictures.

As I've learned, people can be afraid of almost anything, from beautiful women (Gynophobia) to farts (Flatulophobia).

You just have to search for "fear of" and put literally anything you can think of and the chance there is an actual phobia for it is quite high.

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Patrick Eng