Uncommon Phobias

By Zion Loo

Approximately 9.1 percent of Americans suffer from some kind of phobia, or even more than one. That’s more than 19 million people. Most everyone knows about some of what these phobias may entail, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), acrophobia (fear of heights), claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces), and social phobia (AKA Social Anxiety Disorder).perhaps because we suffer from them ourselves or we know someone who does. The exact number of specific phobias is difficult to narrow down due to the fact that there are an infinite number of specific objects and situations that a fear could possibly derive from, so clinicians and researchers are constantly identifying more as the need for proper names for these conditions arise, combining a Greek or Latin prefix acquainted with the specified fear with the suffix -phobia. A phobia can arise from anything from a dog (cynophobia) to teenagers (ephebiphobia) to something as presumably harmless as the color white (leukophobia) or even flowers (anthophobia).

Because a phobia can be of practically anything, it seems, there are, as you might imagine, a few which may be more troublesome to work around then others. A hydrophobic person (fearful of water) may avoid symptoms such as panic attacks or anxious episodes by avoiding coming into close contact with bodies water, but what if your fear is so prominent in daily life that avoiding it is near impossible? Some of the least common (and frankly terrifying) phobias include vestiphobia (fear of clothing), somniphobia (fear of sleeping), optophobia (fear of opening one’s eyes) and quite possibly the worst of all, phronemophobia (fear of thinking.)

I wrote this article mostly out of fascination for some of these odd phobias, but also because I’m curious as to how many people are unknowingly suffering from an obscure phobia they don’t even know exists, especially considering that because not many people see doctors for phobias, many may not yet be known. Do you have a phobia?