People sometimes casually claim, “I have a real phobia about lizards,” without really understanding what a phobia is. Originating from the Greek word Phóbos which means fear or morbid fear, a phobia is a serious clinical psychological condition. Fear, as an emotion, comes in varying degrees and almost everyone on earth, barring some exceptions, has a certain dislike for death, cockroaches, darkness, spiders and ghosts or spirits. Some fears, on the other hand, are so weird that it’s surprising that there are actually scientific terms for them.
A thaasophobic, for instance, will get very tired since he has a fear of sitting. Who would have thought that there is actually a fear of being tickled by feathers? We should ask a pteronophobic and let’s hope he stays away from bird sanctuaries.
There are a lot of people who fear doing mathematics, including me, but there is a specific fear of numbers called arithmophobia. Not only that, triskaidekaphobics, like Napoleon Bonaparte and Franklin Roosevelt, fear the number 13 and paraskavedekatriaphobics are afraid of Friday the 13th.
Some people are afraid of aliens from outer space, but Sinophobics (fear of the Chinese), Anglophobics, Russophobics, Germanophobics, Japanophobics and Francophobics take it to another level. Their fear of specific nationalities and their cultures must make it really hard to make new friends.
We sometimes think celebrities are a completely different species, but even they are afraid of something or the other. Vidya Balan with her ailurophobia wouldn’t come out of her vanity van till the cats she saw on the set were removed. Believe it or not Pamela Anderson is severely eisoptrophobic — afraid of mirrors. Even David Beckham suffers from a phobia. He is afraid of disorder and this ataxophobic’s clothes are colour coordinated in his wardrobe.
Priyanka Chopra suffers from arachnophobia — she is afraid of spiders while Kangana Ranaut, who is hydrophobic, prefers to stay away from water. A lot of men may share Tom Cruise’s phalecrophobia since all of them are afraid of getting bald. Johnny Depp, the man of many faces and an actor who has done roles which require outrageous make up suffers from coulrophobia, a fear of clowns.
A person who is a sesquipedalophobic wouldn’t even be able to read what’s bothering him. His fear of long words would cause a bit of a problem. More problematic would be living on earth for a barophobe, but because of his fear of gravity he could make a good astronaut. Like gravity there are a few things that most of us don’t even take notice of in everyday life, but for a few they are a cause of anxiety and panic attacks. People who have a phobia about certain colours, for instance, a leukophobic fears white, melanophobic fears black, a porphyrophobic fears purple, xanthophobia is not only fear of the colour yellow but also of the word while chromophobia or chromatophobia is a specific phobia about colours.
Looking at all these phobias I got to thinking what if, once upon a time, a poor man suffering from phengophobia, alliumphobia and staurophobia all at once, roamed the streets at night for some fresh air and exercise. When people found out that this man was afraid of coming out in the sunlight and was repelled by garlic and crucifixes, he could have been labelled a bloodsucking monster, Dracula. Gives a whole new twist to the tale, doesn’t it?