Human beings are fearful creatures. While some of us have done impressive deeds of courage, the majority of us live in fear of something or the other. It could be the fear of drowning, violence, death, or any unwanted circumstance. But some fears are worse than others. Let’s take a look at some of the worst phobias you have probably never heard of.
What is a Phobia?
A Phobia is an irrational fear of any object, scenario, or action. While all of us feel fear, it doesn’t always qualify as a phobia. Fear is the built-in mechanism in the body to protect us from dangerous situations. For instance, we are afraid of jumping into a pool when we don’t know how to swim because our mind wants to protect us from drowning.
However, a phobia is pathological in nature, triggered by factors that are not actually dangerous. For instance, while drowning is a genuine fear, water in itself is nothing to be afraid of. So if you are afraid of water, it would count as aquaphobia. Another example is that while jumping with a parachute from a plane might be genuine fear, simply standing at a height is nothing to be afraid of (unless you suffer from acrophobia).
Most phobias are variations of anxiety and stress disorders and create a similar response. The only difference is the specific factor that triggers these reactions. These trigger factors are how we classify various phobias. Many triggers – like clowns, darkness, snakes, and heights – are quite common. But some could be extremely rare and strange.
Let’s take a look at some of the most uncommon phobias:
15 Uncommon Phobias You Have Never Heard
Sleep is blissful, but not for everyone. People with insomnia struggle with sleeping at all, even when they are exhausted. But there is an even worse condition: somniphobia, the fear of sleeping. People who suffer from somniphobia do not want to sleep at all because they are terrified of it. They would often spend the night doing anything to not fall asleep.
Given how critical sleep is for the normal functioning of our body, it is easy to see how somniphobia could be dangerous for our health. Some experts believe that somniphobia stem from sleep disorders like night terrors or any other condition that could frequently disrupt sleep. Ultimately, the mind starts associating sleep with a negative thing and wants to avoid it at all costs.
A dark hand on the window is very common imagery in many horror or thriller films. Yet, the actual chirophobia – the fear of hands – is even worse. Chirophobia could manifest as the fear of hands, be it your own or someone else’s.
There are two distinct speculations for the origins of chirophobia. One cause could be a traumatic event in childhood, particularly involving violence or abuse. This could manifest into an irrational fear of any hand that approaches you. Another cause could be an injury or medical condition like arthritis, which forces your mind to form a negative association between your hand and pain, thus creating fear against it.
Mirrors are often called the windows into much higher things – from the soul to the other worlds. Yet, for some people, even seeing their own faces in the mirror could be a traumatic event.
Eisoptrophobia is the irrational fear of mirrors. While in some cases it could stem from a painful childhood event, it emerges irrationally in most people. Some have postulated that the superstitions surrounding mirrors in many cultures – from folklore to horror films – may form an irrational fear in the victim’s mind. In the worst cases, eisoptrophobics start fearing ALL reflective surfaces, including water bodies and shiny utensils. Due to not being able to look at even their own reflection, the victims also have poor body image and self-confidence.
Next on our list of most random phobias is xanthophobia – the fear of the color yellow. On the surface, it might seem like the most irrational phobia you could think of, and you might be right.
Xanthophobia manifests as the fear of yellow in ANY object – be it a school bus, banana, flowers, or a wall. Some have theorized that the fear originated from the evolutionary fear of venomous reptiles in the wild, many of whom are brightly colored like yellow. Yet, the hypothesis remains unproven. What we do know is that xanthophobics tend to have a difficult life, given how common the color yellow is in our society. The impact of encountering the color yellow could range from mild distress to a severe panic attack.
Ablutophobia is the fear of taking baths. Now, you might be wondering “well, I don’t like taking baths either, so it’s not that strange”. However, ablutophobia takes his dislike of baths and increases it 100-fold.
Ablutophobics have a severe fear of taking baths or showers. As a result, they suffer from conditions like body odor and even infections. The lack of hygiene also impacts their social life and might lead to isolation from others. It is speculated that this phobia arises from a childhood traumatic event relating to bathing, like drowning in the bathtub. The fear is also commonly linked with aquaphobia or the fear of water. When subjected to a bath, ablutophobics can react with severe anxiety attacks.
Fortunately, most people tend to grow out of this phobia as they get older.
Some phobias make you think “I wonder how that works”. Omphalophobia is one such phobia. It is the fear of the umbilicus or the belly button.
People who suffer from omphalophobia go to great lengths to avoid seeing a belly button. This includes avoiding places like beaches or public baths. But in some cultures, where attire that exposes the belly button is common, the fear could force people to avoid going out in general. Omphalophobics even cover their own belly buttons with tape to avoid looking at them. There has been no credible speculation behind the origins of this fear.
Beards are all the rage these days, but not long ago they were looked down upon. But people who suffer from pogonophobia not just dislike beards, they are terrified of them.
Pogonophobia can manifest as either fear or wariness of bearded people. Many experts theorize that the phobia originates from a childhood traumatic event linked with a bearded person. In some other cases, people who struggle with reading social cues might become terrified of bearded people, as the beard can hide a large portion of the face. Until a few years ago, pogonophobics could live a relatively normal life. But today, with the fashion trend of almost everyone keeping a beard, the lives of pogonophobics have become much harder.
Balloons are quite fun, aren’t they? Well, globophobics would disagree. Globophobia is the extreme fear of balloons.
There have been two distinct speculated origins of globophobia. The first is the strong association of balloons with clowns. Indeed, many people who suffer from globophobia also suffer from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. The second origin is some childhood traumatic event related to balloons, like a loud burst of a balloon that induced a panic attack. People who suffer from globophobia can lead a normal life for the most part, since balloons are not a common everyday object.
Genuphobia is the fear of knees, and a close cousin of chirophobia. People who suffer from genuphobia can be afraid of their own knees, those of others, or both. Like chirophobia, the origins of genuphobia are also theorized to be some childhood injury in the knees that left a deep impact on the psyche. Genuphobia is very rare, but people who suffer from it can live relatively normal life. However, like omphalophobics, genuphobics have to avoid places where there could be a lot of exposed knees – like beaches, swimming pools, or anyplace where people tend to wear shorts.
Peanut butter is easily one of the best breakfast options for most people. But for people suffering from arachibutyrophobia, it could be a cause of panic. Arachibutyrophobia is the irrational fear of peanut butter getting stuck in the roof of your mouth.
Unlike many other phobias, most experts know a credible cause for arachibutyrophobia – the fear of choking. Peanut butter tends to absorb moisture and saliva from the mouth. Consuming too much peanut butter too fast can leave your mouth really dry and unable to open properly. Most people who suffer from this phobia have some kind of choking incident early in their life – either involving peanut butter or something else. The sight of peanut butter can make arachibutyrophobia nauseous or cause anxiety.
Nobody likes to work, yet we do it anyway because we need a salary to survive. For ergophobics, this could be a really sticky situation. Ergophobia is the fear of work.
Ergophobia is an umbrella term for a lot of phobias related to work and the work environment– be it physically intensive work, searching for a job, going to the office, etc. As one could guess, it is a very difficult situation for people who suffer from it. Almost all of us need to work to earn money and survive. Ergophobics find it extremely difficult to cope with the work and work environment. Every day at the office, they could suffer from symptoms ranging from distress to panic attacks. Experts speculate that some traumatic events associated with the office environment or burnout related to work might contribute to ergophobia. Ergophobics also commonly suffer from certain other phobias, like fear of criticism or fear of socializing.
Socializing can be difficult for some people. If you are an introvert, an event such as a social dinner could be very difficult hours to tolerate. But your issues would pale in comparison to deipnophobia – the fear of dining with others.
The fear is commonly linked with other social interaction fears and is commonly found in extreme introverts. However, besides not being able to have public dinners, the phobia is largely harmless.
This one perhaps takes the cake for being the strangest fear you could have. Phobophobia is the fear of fear itself.
For people suffering from phobophobia, there is not any particular trigger for their phobia. Instead, it is anything that could be perceived as scary. A horror film or being alone in the dark might be slightly uncomfortable events for you. For people who have phobophobia, these could be triggers for panic attacks or nervous breakdowns.
Phobophobics are always on the lookout for things that could scare them – and the list is truly long. As such, phobophobics suffers from constant anxiety and hyper- alertness at all times. The only fortunate thing is that phobophobia is extremely rare.
The world is a beautiful place with many amazing sights to offer. But people suffering from optophobia – the fear of opening one’s eyes – might want to take a hard pass. Optophobia causes severe reluctance or discomfort in opening your eyes. In many cases, this is associated with discomfort caused by light falling on your eyes. Due to this, optophobics tend to live in dimly lit or dark places. Given how important sight is for our daily activities, one could imagine how optophobia would affect its victims. It is speculated that like chirophobia, some injury in the eyes might trigger the development of optophobia.
Everyone loves money. It would seem that the entire world is in an endless race to earn more wealth. A lot has been said about greed and the wisdom of not running behind money. But for those suffering from plutophobia, this is not even an option.
Plutophobia is the fear of money and wealth. People suffering from it find the idea of becoming rich very discomforting. They would often go to great lengths to NOT accumulate wealth and riches. They might intentionally sabotage their career and miss opportunities to earn more money. Most experts agree that plotophobia stems from external factors that paint wealth negatively and as a root of problems.
It is interesting to know about the vast array of phobias, but life could be difficult for those suffering from them. If you are suffering from a phobia that adversely impacts your life, do not hesitate from seeking professional medical help. Remember, phobias are completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of.