Humans are born with some innate fears like the fear of falling. Even the fear of snakes and spiders could be hardwired into our brains according to some research. There are some fears we acquire over the course of our lives. While we have heard about the fear of heights, the fear of water, the fear of public speaking, and other such fears, there are some strange phobias in the world that we rarely hear about. Did you know that there is a fear of the color yellow called “xanthophobia” or the fear of beards called “pogonophobia?”
The word “phobos” that means “fear” in Greek is where we get the English word “phobia” from.
Chronophobia is a specific psychological phobia which is the fear of passing time and sometimes the fear of time itself. The ones who are chronophobic feel that the present moment may soon become the past, and it is passing very quickly. They might feel that they haven’t done enough in life and the time is flying.
A phobia that can be passed down through the genes, it can be triggered through depression. It is mainly experienced by the elderly and the people who are confined or trapped in one place without much exposure to the outdoors. It can also affect people who have been through high-anxiety situations. (1, 2)
To understand erythrophobia, let’s first understand why we blush. Blushing is an involuntary reaction that is triggered by our nervous system and is a part of the fight-or-flight response. It is a complex, self-perpetuating phobia that can become more intense with an increase in worry. Blushing is a response to several things, one of which is anxiety.
When we are anxious, the adrenaline levels in our bodies increase which causes the blood vessels to widen leading to increased blood flow. This also causes the vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels) of the veins in our face which causes the redness. Erythrophobia is a specific social phobia where people fear blushing as it tends to attract attention from others. This starts a vicious cycle of anxiety and blushing becoming more intense with time. As at the core of the fear is social anxiety of a kind and not blushing itself. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help in treating this phobia. (source)
Oprah Winfrey has chiclephobia, the rare, specific fear of chewing gum. She said that it stems from her childhood memories of seeing her grandmother stick chewing gum on the cabinet and then coming back to it. People who have chiclephobia cannot stand the sight of someone else chewing gum or make eye-contact with them. Some people might throw up if they accidentally step on discarded gum or feel physically sick at the sight of a chewed lump of gum. (1, 2)
Venustraphobia, also known as “caligynephobia,” is different from the fear of women (gynophobia). This phobia is specifically the fear of beautiful women and is rarely talked about. People who suffer from this phobia experience shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and other symptoms when they look at a beautiful woman or are in close proximity to one.
Many people also experience panic attacks. Their phobia might compel them to keep their distance from their loved ones whom they think of as beautiful. The cause of this fear is rooted in the unconscious mind where it is likely that an unfortunate event involving a beautiful woman could have happened in the past. Different people exhibit a different level of severity of symptoms. (source)
Many people experience the opposite of gamophobia, called “anuptaphobia” which is the fear of being single or alone. Gamophobia, on the other hand, is the fear of marriage, being in a relationship, or making a commitment. To take one scenario as an example, a person suffering from this phobia might fall in love with a person, but their love could change to hate when they are asked to get married to the one they love. The phobia is related to a number of personality disorders. (source)
Having the fear of a phobia or phobias is strongly related to anxiety disorders. Phobophobia is specifically the fear of the sensations one feels when they are afraid or are facing a phobia they already have. A person can develop phobophobia in their unconscious mind once they have associated emotional stress or trauma with a phobia that they may have faced in the past. They begin fearing their fear itself. It can also lead to panic attacks, excessive perspiration, hyperventilation, angst, etc. (source)
It is common knowledge that Stephen Hawking had a fear of aliens. In 2012, he warned people to be wary of aliens who could be roaming in outer space and look for planets to colonize and resources to plunder. Xenophobia can be the fear of any stranger or foreigner, or as it was for Hawking, extraterrestrial beings. Webster’s Dictionary defines “phobia” as the “fear of the unfamiliar.” This fear is present in a lot of human beings, and some of the first instances of xenophobic sentiment were noticed by the ancient Greeks. Xenophobia can also be the fear of losing national, ethnic, or racial identity. (1, 2)
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, deipnophobia can be social anxiety or a specific phobia depending upon how it manifests itself. Deipnophobia can be the fear of dining, dinner conversations and cause post-meal nausea or cramps. Some of us might not like the conversations that happen during dinners as those meals are the only time in some households when the entire family sits together, and also the time when uncomfortable topics pop up.
For those struggling with this phobia, going out to a restaurant for dining and conversation can provoke their anxiety. This phobia is different from “sitophobia” which is the “fear of food or eating in general” and not specific to dining only. Deipnophobics may experience muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating. (1, 2)
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