You’re Afraid of What?

March 9th is National Panic Day. I’m not actually sure how you are supposed to observe this holiday. Should you panic or should you try to de-stress so you won’t panic in the future? Well either way, I thought this would be a good time to examine some of the things that can cause us to panic.

The English philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon once wrote, “Nothing is terrible except fear itself”. But is fear always so terrible? It seems that some fear is good. For instance we are taught at an early age to fear God which is a good thing. Fear is also what makes a soldier keep his head down and it is the reason we don’t golf during a thunderstorm. Our fears protect us. The horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft once wrote that, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear”. I would have guessed it was lust but he might be right.

However, fear can be debilitating when it turns into a phobia. The dictionary defines a phobia as, “A persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.” When a person is confronted with a phobia he/she will often exhibit physical symptoms such as: sweating, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing. Panic may ensue.

Some phobias are fairly common such as:

  • Acrophobia- the fear of heights
  • Claustrophobia – the fear of tight spaces
  • Arachnophobia- the fear of spiders and scorpions
  • Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking; and
  • Aviophobia – the fear of flying

I suffer from a fear of flying as do about one in five people. But this phobia is really a combination of a number of other anxieties such as: acrophobia (you are 5 miles in the air), claustrophobia (you are stuck in a crowded tube), autodysomophobia which is the fear of people with body odors (I always end up sitting next to the guy who hasn’t showered in a week) and, of course, thanatophobia, which is the fear of dying. Recently a passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight was bitten by a scorpion, so now we can add arachnophobia to the underlying causes of the fear of flying. Those who suffer from aviophobia can go to cognitive behavior therapy to alleviate their anxiety or they can just stop at the terminal bar for a few beers before boarding. That works for me.

Just don't overdo it.

Just don’t overdo it.

I have on occasion tried telling my spouse that I have other phobias as well. Recently I tried to tell her that I couldn’t shovel the driveway because I had come down with a bad case of chionophobia (fear of snow) coupled with a bit of ergophobia (the fear of work). She completely understood and mentioned that she had just developed a case of mageirocophobia (the fear of cooking) along with genophobia, the fear of sex. Needless to say I overcame my angst and the driveway got shoveled.
I can certainly understand those common phobias. There are others that I can relate to as well such as:

  • Ephebiphobia- the fear of teenagers. Most parents have suffered from this. It usually lasts seven years.
  • Litigaphobia- which is the fear of being sued. This is easy to understand given how litigious our society is. By the way dikephobia (pronounced dick – a- fobia), which I had hoped was the fear of lawyers, is really the fear of being arrested.
  • Phalacrophobia- the dread of becoming bald. Not to be confused with peladophobia which is the fear of bald people.
  • Pentheraphobia – the fear of one’s mother-in-law. The married men that don’t suffer from this are few and far between.
  • Menophobia- the fear of menstruation which affects married men on a monthly basis. It probably affects women sometimes too; and finally
  • Atychiphobia which is the persistent fear of failure. Fortunately this has largely been eradicated with the advent of Viagra.

But there are some phobias that I can’t understand such as the fear of zombies (kinemortophobia). This anxiety is surprisingly common. Come on people, they walk so slowly and seem really easy to re-kill. Oh, and zombies probably aren’t even real. I also can’t comprehend: the fear of the dawn (eosophobia), the fear of garlic (scorodophobia) or the fear of crosses (staurophobia). If you suffer from these you might be a vampire and you should look in a mirror to see if you have a reflection. However, you won’t want to do this if you suffer from catoptrophobia, the fear of mirrors.

Other phobias that baffle me include lachanophobia, the fear of vegetables and verbophobia, the fear of words. By the way, there are some people that are only afraid of long words. The name of this phobia is unfortunately sesquipedalophobia which ironically is one of the longest phobia names. The name seems a bit cruel to those who have this affliction.

Yes, some phobias are THAT specific.

Yes, some phobias are THAT specific.

Currently there are over 500 documented phobias recognized by the medical community. Unfortunately the list is growing. Some new phobias that I have recently stumbled across include:Bracketphobia – this is the worry that your NCAA bracket will be busted in the first round. This anxiety usually peaks in March.

  • Chick- a- flick –a –phobia – the fear that your wife or girlfriend will insist that you go to another chick flick. This can be terrifying to a man, especially during football season.
  • Belichick-a-phobia – which is the fear that God will dump 10 feet of snow on your city as punishment for cheating in the AFC Championship Game.
  • Sarahphobia- the dread among Republicans that Sarah Palin will run for president in 2016.
  • Weinerphobia- the worry that you will receive a horrifying text from former N.Y. congressman Anthony Weiner.
  • Cyberphobia- the concern that the NSA is reading all of your e-mails while some Eastern European hacker is stealing your identity; and last but not least
  • Tinklephobia- the fear that you will have to pee while the plane’s seat belt sign is illuminated. Too many beers before boarding can cause this.

If you did not enjoy me poking fun at these disorders please don’t judge me as I suffer from sociophobia. Needless to say this is the fear of being judged.

Actually these phobias (with the exception of the seven that I made up at the end) are all very real anxiety disorders that can negatively affect peoples’ lives. They all need to be taken seriously. Well maybe not lachanophobia. I can’t take a fear of vegetables seriously.

Happy National Panic Day!

Some folks have started the celebrations early.

Some folks have started the celebrations early.

John Wade, a frequent contributor to Unhinged Magazine, is a retired Chief Financial Officer who lives in Wildwood, Missouri.

©2015, all rights reserved
published with permission of the author

Read more Unhinged before the urge to go back to work comes back. Our previous article talked about how good and nice corporations are to us.