Sunday, August 16, 2009

Phobias For The Twenty-First Century

Phobias…those irrational fears of just about anything you can think of. Most of them have been out there for centuries. Some of them have been handed down through families.

But like so many other things, the twenty-first century has brought us a whole new collection of things that provide irrational fears.

Nomophobia is the fear of not having cell phone contact, whether it's due to a dead battery or because your network doesn't have coverage where you are. A fate worse than death?

Vidigameaphobia is the fear of video games. This can cover everything from simply being afraid of the games to the fear that the games could come to life. Wait a minute. Come to life? Hmm…maybe I need to buy that Indiana Jones game after all.

Interphobia is exactly what it sounds like…fear of the World Wide Web. Now that's a phobia to avoid at all costs.

Dextrophobia and its counterpart Levophobia offers us a couple of really strange phobias. Dextrophobia is the fear of everything to the right of your body while Levophobia is the fear of everything to the left of your body.

Coulrophobia has actually been around for a long time and is still going strong. It's the fear of clowns. Didn't Stephen King have a clown as one of his evil entities?

Alektorophobia is an extreme fear of live chickens. Maybe the scope of the fear should be expanded to include people who look like Col. Sanders?

Pupaphobia is related to Coulrophobia. They might even be first cousins. It's the fear of puppets. Not sure what you'd call the fear of a clown puppet.

Sesquipedalophobia, as the length of the word suggests, is the fear of very long words. Wouldn't a shorter word be more appropriate?

Cathisophobia is one that those of us working at computers need to avoid at all costs. It's the fear of sitting.

Genuphobia is the fear of knees. That must be really difficult in summer when warm weather clothing means lots of knees sticking out there for anyone to see.

And here's a bonus phobia to carry us through the twenty-first century. This has to be the ultimate fear: Phobophobia. Yep, it's exactly what it sounds like…a fear of fears.

My primary fear is bugs and other creepy crawler things. My fear is totally rational, of course. Do you have any irrational fears (or rational ones) you'd like to share?

30 comments:

Lise said...

Phobophobia must have been what FDR was talking about when he said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Fun blog and I'm looking at puppets, knees and clowns in a whole new way. Do you remember the Twilight Zone episode with the puppet? Proving we are right to be afraid of the evil little buggers...

Samantha Gentry said...

Lise: LOL...you're probably right about the FDR quote. Yes on puppets. And look at how many movies/tv shows have featured a ventriloquist's dummy that is "alive" and in control.

Mona Risk said...

What an interesting post. I suffered from Interphobia but I am getting better at conquering this fear. I hate bugs. I scream my head off when I see big roaches or spiders which amuses my son so much. But my biggest phobia I can't control is fear of height. My bones literally freeze if I stand on a bridge or a tower and look down. It's a horrible feeling. It's so painful I close my eyes even if that is by far more dangerous

Jennifer Ross said...

My phobia (wild animals that don't realize they are to scurry away at sight of ME, thereby requiring me to scurry away at sight of THEM, this includes all bugs) has been steadily getting worse over the years. These days, I can only kill flies, mosquitos and non-flying bugs who are on the floor. For everything else, I have to scream for help.

But I'm particularly worried about my newer discomfort--becoming phobia-like--which is my fear of being without internet access. Like the fear of cell phones, but for the internet. For example, when I'm driving in the car and suddenly need to know the total square footage of, say, Paraguay, I CAN'T INSTANTLY RECEIVE THE ANSWER! Who can live like that?

Suzannah Safi said...

Very interesting post! I guess my rational phobia is swimming in the ocean, I don't know how to explain it because I love looking at the sea, and swim too. But in the deep dark, Blue Ocean if I am left there, even for a swim beside a yacht, my heart would pound, and dark thoughts would attack, well, maybe because I have sharks in my mind lol

Susan Macatee said...

Wow, what a list of phobias, Samantha! I've never even heard of most of these.

I don't like bugs, but I can't really say I'm afraid of them. I feel a bit uncomforable with heights and elevators, but I can tolerate either. I guess fear of public speaking would have to be mine. That absolutely terrifies me!

Samantha Gentry said...

Mona: I don't have a fear of heights, although I do admit to feeling a little uneasy a couple of times when being incredibly close to the edge with the next step being a could of thousand feet down. I've always thought of that as being connected to vertigo, which immediately makes me think of the Jimmy Stewart - Kim Novak movie.

Samantha Gentry said...

Jennifer: For me, even bugs on the floor need to be attacked at more than arm's length (or foot length) away with something like a rolled up newspaper or a fly swatter.

Modern devices have solved that 'being without the internet' since most of the new cell phones allow you to surf the web so that you can find the total area of Paraguay [which is 157,046 square miles...I do happen to be connected to the internet at the moment :)]. My cell phone isn't that new or sophisticated. It doesn't even have a keyboard!! However, it does take pictures and it even allows me to make and receive the occasional phone call as in actually talking to someone. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Suzannah: I now what you mean about the ocean. I love being at the ocean but the idea of swimming in deep ocean water is scary. There are so many strange and dangrous things down there in the murky depths and you can't even see them coming.

Samantha Gentry said...

Susan: I had never heard of these phobias either until I came across the list as part of an AOL interesting news item.

Public speaking doesn't bother me (as long as I've had time to gather my thoughts about what I'm going to say). I teach an 8 week fiction writing class twice a year at the state university, so I'm accustomed to standing up in front of the class and giving a two hour lecture every week. Of course, that's an audience of about 35 people rather than hundreds of people. That could make a difference.

Lisa Lane said...

I do have a few irrational fears ... but, strangely, I have practically no fear of bugs, spiders, snakes, or anything else creepy-crawly. ;-)

Tanya Hanson said...

I am terrified of down escalators. If I'm shopping alone, I lurk until someone approaches to start ahead of me. I am not afraid to fly in airplanes or helicopters, but otherwise heights so disarm me. Go figure.

~Tanya Hanson
www.tanyahanson.com

Samantha Gentry said...

Lisa: I wish I could say that about bugs and creepy crawly things. Intellectually, I know that I have to smack them if I come across one in my house, but I definitely have to force myself to do it by telling myself if I don't do it now, the creepy crawly will find me later.

Samantha Gentry said...

Tanya: It seems to me that in an airplane or helicopter you have the same sensation as being inside a building. You have a floor under you, a roof over you, and walls around you. A whole lot different than being outside and standing on the edge of a cliff or a bridge and looking down with nothing between you and the ground.

Melanie Atkins said...

My phobias are a fear of heights and fear of flying. That's probably because planes leave the ground. lol

Cate Masters said...

Fun post, Samantha! I think with age comes better reasoning, so I've grown more fearful of heights. When I was younger, I used to bring snakes to my mom in a jar, but now cringe at the sight of them (all too often, where we now live!)
Thanks for the great info!

Shiela Stewart said...

Some of those are really interesting. :)

I have a strong fear of Moths. yes, moths. I hate them with a passion. I actually throw up and become hysterical around them.
I also have a fear of storms.

Samantha Gentry said...

Melanie: I think a lot more people have a fear of flying than you'd first imagine. There's the connection with heights, but there's I think there's also that concern of 'what keeps the airplane in the sky so that it doesn't fall.'

Samantha Gentry said...

Cate: As 'they' say (whoever 'they' are), with age comes wisdom. We now realize how dangerous the dare devil things we did as kids truly were.

Samantha Gentry said...

Shiela: I've heard of several people having a fear of storms. In fact, in my current release from Cobblestone Press, SUMMER SIZZLE, the heroine is afraid of thunderstorms and lightning. But I have to admit that moths is a new one to me. Is it just moths or also butterflies? Perhaps because they flit and fly around?

Becca Simone said...

I want to meet some people with these phobias--they'd be interesting characters, eh?

My phobia? Spiders, of course. But there's a catch. Small spiders, not so bad. But if they're big enough to cast a shadow or make sounds as they crawl across the newspaper...major phobia time. Ick. Can't say I'm a fan of clowns, either, but I wouldn't call it a phobia.

:)Becca

Samantha Gentry said...

Becca: You're right. A way out phobia would be an interesting trait to give a character, especially a secondary character who can be a lot more weird or way out than our main character. Readers need to like the main character (hero/heroine) and want them to win whatever goal they've set for themselves. We don't have that situation with secondary characters. :)

Beth Trissel said...

Wow, I thought I had a lot of phobias, but mine are just the usual stuff, although I've never been a big fan of clowns. :)

Samantha Gentry said...

Beth: I think everyone has phobias of some sort, most of it being 'just the usual stuff' type of thing that we basically dismiss with "I don't like..." rather thn admitting to full blown anxiety attacks. :)

Linda Wisdom said...

One fear. Snakes. Hate them! I'm sure it has to do with my once almost being bitten by a rattlesnake, except for my dog's intervention. But I still hate them, even fake ones.

Linda

Samantha Gentry said...

Linda: I'm not crazy about snakes, either. It's not really a fear or even a phobia, but I'd just as soon totally avoid them...even the non-poisonous "harmless" ones.

Mary Ricksen said...

For me it's bugs. Eck.
Close places, failure, strangers, groups, strange places,...Is that enough?

Samantha Gentry said...

Mary: Me, too, on the bugs and all things creepy crawly. As for failure...I thing that fear hits all of us to some degree.

Helen Hardt said...

Moths. And butterflies. I can't stand the fluttering, LOL. I thought I was alone, but my author friend Nicole McCaffrey has the same phobia!

Fun blog, Samantha!

Helen

Samantha Gentry said...

Helen: Thanks. See Shiela's note above. She mentions moths, too.

I don't think there's a phobia out there that isn't shared by several people.