Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by intense…
Unusual Phobias: Poetry, Vegetables and the No. 13
By their very definition, phobias are irrational or unusually extreme fears. Even so, many phobias are shared by such large numbers of people that they come to seem normal and understandable. However, some rare phobias are unusual and bizarre enough that they truly highlight how far this form of anxiety disorder can stray from the world of logic and common sense.
While some common phobias and potential treatments have been the subject of peer-reviewed scientific research, many phobias are poorly documented from a scientific standpoint. But whether the evidence in support of a phobia is research-based or simply anecdotal, the fact remains that people around the world report strong irrational fears associated with the most unlikely of triggers. And the real fear that results from these phobias should not be dismissed because research has not yet revealed its sources.
Metrophobia – Fear of Poetry
Many grade school and college students experience anxiety in English classes when they are asked to analyze poetry. It is a medium that is unfamiliar to many people, and can seem confounding and impenetrable to the poetry novice. However, poetry inspires particularly intense anxiety and fear in metrophobes. These individuals may not be able to function in classes during poetry study, and may need to avoid verse-based theatrical performances or books that may unexpectedly contain verse.
Alektorophobia – Fear of Chickens
The fear of birds is a relatively common phobia, but individuals suffering from alektorophobia do not usually extend their fears to other members of the avian family. Individuals need not have any first-hand experience with chickens to develop this phobia. Chickens are generally simple for alektorophobia sufferers to avoid, although it is becoming more common for chickens to be raised in suburban and even urban environments.
Geliophobia – Fear of Laughing
Geliophobia is a fear of engaging in laughter and/or of being around people who are laughing. For some people, the fear arises in part from orthodontic problems that they are afraid of revealing when they laugh. Other sufferers may have a past trauma that they unconsciously associated with laughter, and of which they are uncomfortably reminded when they hear people laughing. This can be a challenging and socially isolating phobia because laughter is a common occurrence whenever people are gathered together.
Papaphobia – Fear of the Pope
Papaphobia may encompass both fear of the Pope himself and fear of the Roman Catholic Church in general. This phobia may arise from an intimidating early childhood experience with Catholicism that does not subside with time.
Lachanophobia – Fear of Vegetables
It sounds like a phobia invented by a child who didn’t want to finish her broccoli, but fear of vegetables is reported by thousands of people across the United States. And while it may sound amusing, this fear can make it very challenging for sufferers to maintain a healthy diet and acquire all the necessary vitamins and minerals in their diet.
Triskaidekaphobia – Fear of the Number 13
Most people have heard of triskaidekaphobia, even if they have never encountered a genuine sufferer. Superstition around the number 13 has become culturally embedded, to the extent that tall buildings are routinely built without a 13th floor. In fact, the pervasive superstitions regarding the bad luck of this number can make it difficult to distinguish a true phobia. Scientists also tend to classify phobias as either objects or situations, while a number is technically neither.
Barophobia – Fear of Gravity
Barophobia can manifest in two main ways. Sufferers may feel the overwhelming force of gravity, and worry that the force may grow strong enough to crush them. They may also fear a sudden failure or reversal of gravity that sends them flying away. The latter may cause individuals to avoid venturing outside whenever possible, while the former often leaves sufferers in a constant state of anxiety.
Pediophobia – Fear of Dolls
Some people suffer from a phobia of both human dolls as well as any children’s toy that represents a living creature, such as stuffed animals. Other pediophobes suffer from a very specific phobia, often related to elaborate china or porcelain dolls, or to talking dolls. Experts suspect that pediophobia may be partly connected to popular culture phenomena, like Chucky, that deal with dolls coming to life and terrorizing people (which is similar to suspicions regarding the origins of clown phobia). Others believe that children may sometimes be irrationally frightened of dolls that appear human but are in fact inanimate, and that some never grow out of that fear.