Friday, May 8, 2009


See if you can guess these troublesome phobias by a few hints:

1. Caligynephobia: This phobia might keep a man from being in the audience for a Miss Universe Pageant.
2. Cherophobia: You won’t find this guy at a New Year’s party or an office Christmas party.
3. Didaskaleinophobia: This one strikes millions of children the day of a test for which he has not studied for.
4. Ereuthrophobia: This sufferer will never do anything that might embarrass her and also would avoid meeting her favorite movie star.
5. Hylophobia: Robin Hood, park rangers, and Grizzly Adams do not suffer from this at all.
6. Leukophobia: If you have this, you probably push your bread and cauliflower off the plate.
7. Logizomechanophobia: If you have this, what in the world are you reading this post on?
8. Mottephobia: This fear will keep you well away from outdoor lights at night (and you might want to wear a necklace of cedar chips).
9. Myxophobia: The worst thing that could happen to this woman is to show up at the Nickelodean awards when they have a vat over a presenter’s head.
10. Phasmophobia: This one is not conducive to paranormal research.
11. Sesquipedalophobia: The very word for this condition would scare the person who has this phobia.
12. Syngenesophobia: This excuse will only get you out of so many family reunions.
13. Vestiphobia: The happy people at the nudist camp claim to suffer from this one.
14. Xerophobia: You won’t move to the desert if you have this one.
15. Zeusophobia: This guy might just be an atheist.

(answers below)

Anyone who’s suffered from phobias knows that there are the common ones; heights, public speaking, crowds, snakes, bugs, and flying. But, did you know that there are some very specific phobias that people can get? Ones that are so unusual they put things into perspective for those who suffer the more common ones. Some folks are limited by the ability to write in front of others for fear their hands will shake or afraid to eat in public in case they have to throw up. How we go about getting phobias is as individual as the person who gets them.

When a person has a phobia, it follows a typical cycle. You hear you might have to face this dread thing, you tell yourself something about it, and then it results in bodily reactions that are uncomfortable and incite more fear. Once you get the thoughts going, the hands sweat, the heart pounds, the stomach flip-flops, and you begin to tremble and shake your head “no.” You’re not about to do it. After all, look at how it makes you feel? Actually, it doesn’t make you feel that way, your thoughts do.

Phobias are incredibly straightforward to treat and there’s no need to suffer. In the old days, they might immerse you in your fear without any mind tools to deal with it, thus sealing your phobia into permanency. Today, we know that it's a combination of exposure with brain training that works like a charm. Just a few short sessions with a cognitive-behavioral therapist and you can see amazing results.

It all goes back to your inner dialogue. Once you conquer the thoughts in your head and master your mind, it results in perfectly logical emotions and decisions. The thing phobics truly dread the most is what’s going on internally when they face their fear; body sensations, racing thoughts, and the big one “I can’t handle this.” (An inner statement that seems to be at the heart of phobics psyche.) It’s sort of a metaphor for other things that may be going on in their lives such as a woman afraid of elevators and closed spaces feels trapped in her marriage. A person who hates to fly can’t relinquish control to another human being.

Of course, getting over a phobia involves doing the dreaded deed, but it also means realizing that the world doesn’t end, you don’t go crazy or die or embarrass yourself, and guess what? You have control over your own thoughts and thus your own emotions. Once you learn that, you can conquer anything including long-put-off goals.

1. Fear of beautiful women
2. Fear of gaiety
3. Fear of going to school
4. Fear of blushing
5. Fear of forests
6. Fear of the color white
7. Fear of computers
8. Fear of moths
9. Fear of slime
10. Fear of ghosts
11. Fear of long words
12. Fear of relatives
13. Fear of clothing
14. Fear of dryness
15. Fear of God.


  1. I suffer badly from clausterphobia! There are times when I can't watch someone on TV crawl through a small tight space. I can feel myself starting to panic. I do ok in elevators but God forbid if I get stuck in one! I have also woken myself up if I am in a small place or something is covering my face in a dream, usually having trouble breathing. Yea, I got it bad. Mike, my blog bud, has many phobias especially bugs! I saw this first hand in Bisbee when we were walking around town and saw this, as he put it "mutant bug from hell", lol. It was huge! It scared us but it terrified him. Phobias are real and can criple people from doing everyday activities. Mine don't quite do that to me but if they got that bad, I would seek help.

  2. Yup. Phobias can be very limiting. What kind of phobia a person gets is as personal as the person. Claustrophobia is a super common one. I had moments of it that I know come from when I was a kid and my siblings would roll me in a blanket like a mummy and leave me for hours. I would get hysterical trying to get loose. Just knowing I couldn't move my arms freaked me out. I know folks who feel that way on an airplane, but when you think about it, you sit in front of the TV in the same position, same amount of space for hours during a movie and so it's really no different. The problem is knowing you don't have options to leave that freaks people out. It's like the MRI thing. As a medical professional, I know how freaky people get about lying inside the tube. They lie in their bed every night, but just knowing there's this thing around them and they can't leave if they want to, freaks them out. It's really all in the way you talk about it in your mind. I've had a fear of heights nearly forever and I know that no matter how many times I conquer it, I'm back to square one. I've even mountain climbed and rapelled, but couldn't knock it. I think with my fear of heights, it's a depth perception issue and it just makes me off balance. Fear of bugs and spiders is probably everyone's biggest phobia, along with public speaking. The good news is that we don't often have to do either, so folks learn to live with it. I have to admit, to this day, if I watch a movie where they're on a rooftop, my hands sweat!

  3. I have always had really bad anxiety and have gone through some strange phobias. When I was younger I was petrified of throwing up, specifically if my Mom wasn't around. I went home sick just about every single day of third grade, wouldn't sleep over friends' houses for years, couldn't go to the movie theater, all for fear that I would either throw up in public or without my Mom. Pretty odd in looking back, but it took me years to get through it and it really got in the way of my life for awhile.

    More recently, I somehow aquired a fear of passing out/seizures. It's on my mind at least on a daily basis (I used to think about it almost constantly). It's terrifying, I don't even know how to explain it to someone who's never had a phobia, but it can really take over your life. Especially because the more I think about passing out, the more my adrenaline rushes, making me feel sort of dizzy, which makes me think I'm going to pass out. It's an endless cycle.

    A lesser phobia of mine, and kind of a funny one, is knees. I hate knees. If anyone even brushes up against my knees, it's instant tears. And I can't really look at other people's with out getting skeeved out. When I go to the doctors and they check my reflexes, they have to do it on my elbow instead, hahaha. I've learned to see the humor in this phobia, but I still cannot get passed it.

  4. I used to work with phobics. I've had my own about heights and flying. I do understand how they can get quite specific. The one you outgrew as a kid was a classic situation. As you get older, new things cause anxiety and some of the old ones lose their punch. The fear of passing out/seizure is actually pretty common. You hear it a lot in folks with panic disorder because when they feel panicky, they fear they'll pass out. Moving phobias from the primitive part of the brain to the more logical side is what helps you to beat them down. To get over a fear like that, you actually have to ask yourself, what's the worst that would happen if I passed out or had a seizure? Basically, you'd be unconsicous (like sleep) and wake up and it'd be over. Then you apply more logic. Have you ever actually passed out or had a seizure? If you haven't your chances of it happening are ridiculously low and then, again, if it did happen, you'd just wake up and move on with your day. The mind has a way of becoming preoccupied by one thing to avoid another. It's not fear of passing out that's getting you, it's something else you don't want to face. There's a great example in my favorite book on the subject "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns. He told of a man whose girlfriend was going to her reunion but he couldn't go with her. The minute she left, he noticed a bruise and within minutes he was certain he had AIDS. He had no risk factors for it, but he focused on every symptom in his body, absolutely certain he had AIDS. What he was doing was avoiding his real issue which was a feeling of fear that his girlfriend was going to see old boyfriends. These sort of things are always a way to avoid a real issue. You think because you feel awful, there must be a real reason for it, so you look to your body or to situations and say those are the things causing the anxiety when it's really an issue of trying to hide from some greater reality about your life you don't want to face or deal with. I had panic attacks when my son was a toddler. I felt overwhelmed as a mother because I was the baby of my family and my role was to never grow up or be responsible. Knowing I had to take care of his every detail was terrifying, I didn't even feel I could be responsible for myself. My panic attacks got to where I was terrified of being alone. It was because inside I was essentially saying "don't leave me with this kid, I don't know what I'm doing. I need someone more responsible." Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a super answer to phobias and anxiety and it can take as little as 4-12 sessions to get over these things. Once you learn the techniques, you apply them to everything in life and you realize you control your brain, it doesn't control you. I hope that explanation helped. I really feel for folks with phobias, they really are very very treatable and curable.

  5. Oh wow Autumn, when my son was 6months old I had the most terrifying panic attack ever. It was so terrifying that from that day forward I was deathly afraid of being alone. Before this I had had a history of anxiety attacks that got so bad I couldn't leave my house and then that happened. Now, not only was I afraid to leave my house, I was terrified to be left alone. This as you can imagine caused a great problem. I had a live-in nanny for almost seven years because of this. And mind you, we live in a small house and financially it was a big drain.
    I saw many doctors, nurses, therapists. Tried many types of therapies and medications to no avail.
    Not once did I ever make the realization that I probably was terrified of taking care of my precious baby. It kinda all makes sense now. Thanks so much for mentioning that in your comment to Howie, it hit a cord with me.

  6. Sandra, right? I was amazed when I went through the panic thing back in my 20s that there were so many people suffering. Nowadays, people such as Donnie Osmond, Raquel Welch, Willard Scott, and dozens of other celebrities have admitted to the struggle. When I recovered from it, it was an intense six months of very hard work to retrain myself to believe in ME. I think the message the bottom of all of this is "I can't cope," and you have to get to a place of knowing "no matter what happens, I'm the best person to deal with it" and then the panic never comes again. Usually it starts for folks during a huge transition. The #1 time is going to college, but also after marriage, children, and deaths. My first attack was a combo of a funeral and having my son and my mother being in very bad health. One of my dear friends, for her it was her pet dying and realizing that her pet was her surrogate boyfriend and her actual boyfriend was offering zero affection or support. She was suddenly faced with being alone with him. Once I sat down and made a list of everything in my entire life I'd been responsible for, I realized I actually was competent. It was momentary lapse in belief in myself during a new level of responsibility. I hope things are going well now. As you can probably tell, anxiety and panic are extremely common and once you open up about it, others around you come rushing to tell their stories. Sounds like you have a really good perspective on it all now.

  7. It is amazing how many people have had this problem. No one really knows what panic is, until you experience this. My husband still doesn't understand how intense the fear was when I had my attacks, but he has always been supportive.
    I am thrilled to be in a better place. Again thanks for sharing your knowledge.