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Fear is a fight-and-flight response to a situation involving danger, whereas phobia extends to suit all of these:
- Is prolonged
- Involves intense fear
- Affects the quality of life
When a particular phobia starts getting in your way of living a fruitful life, it may become a disorder, specifically an anxiety disorder1. Anxiety disorders have many forms, and phobia-related disorders fall under this category. Its three types are –
1. 14 Diverse Rare Phobias
1.1. Nomophobia (Fear of Not Being Able to Access Your Phone)
Imagine going down a street, and somebody passes by you stealthily. You feel a kind of sensation but ignore it at the moment only to realize later that your phone is missing. How would you feel?
Anxious and restless? Common reaction if it gets realized, but if you feel intense anxiety even at the thought of losing your phone, you might be dealing with nomophobia2.
It not only shows up as being afraid of losing your phone but not being able to connect to the internet or running out of battery as well.
Nomophobia – a blend of No Mobile Phone Phobia is a specific phobia listed in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
It may take shape from other anxiety disorders as well as from overusing phones and is more of an anxiety disorder than a phobia.
A 2008 study by the United Kingdom Post Office (from where the term Nomophobia emerged) revealed that around 53 percent of British phone users showed mobile-related fear, and 58% of males and 47% of females had signs of anxiety3 that call for Nomophobia.
Being a nomophile means you may have to tackle anxiety, irregular heartbeats, difficulty in breathing, and sweating in anticipation of missing connectivity to your cell phone.
1.2. Omphalophobia (Fear of Belly Buttons)
This specific phobia that falls under this category can prove you wrong if you think fear can only creep in when you’re face-to-face with some humongous creature.
Your tiny belly button can cause a great deal of discomfort if you struggle to deal with it. Omphalophobia is the fear of seeing or touching the very mini part of your body that once connected you to your mother through the umbilical cord by which you could afford all the nutrition.
How real this phobia can be experienced by an aspiring doctor’s trauma with her belly button that had her physical reactions such as anxiety, panic attacks, and vomiting.
Her phobia emerged out of an unlikable childhood experience. Apart from distressing incidents, your surroundings or genes can contribute to this phobia.
1.3. Globophobia (Fear of Balloons)
It may feel childish to have a fear of balloons, but you might scratch your head when Oprah Winfrey, the ‘Queen of All Media‘, admitted that she gets distressed by the bursting sound of balloons which is similar to gunshots. In this case, it relates to phonophobia4, a fear of loud noises.
Though glossophobia (originated from the Greek word globe, which means sphere and phobia) has a much broader range. Globophobics5 not only get uneasy by the burst sound of a balloon but by the balloons themselves – inflation, deflation, or even at their sight.
This phobia is also linked with an early traumatic event with balloons and other fears like fear of clowns where clowns are supposed to carry balloons.
1.4. Octophobia (Fear of Number 8)
The truth about numbers, particularly maths, is that most of us had an aversion to math class before some started loving it or leaving it altogether.
But the kind of fear that stems from the number 8 (which represents the infinity sign from its side) has more to do with conditioning (associating specific numbers with bad luck) and early childhood beliefs.
Choosing to avoid the number 8 in social situations and refusing to have anything that carries 8 can seriously affect your lifestyle and impair your physical and mental well-being.
1.4.1. Other fears related to numbers
Triskaidekaphobia6 and Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia are fears of numbers 13 and 666, respectively, and all of these are equal to Arithmophobia, the fear of numbers themselves.
1.5. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (Fear of Long Words)
The thing that once resulted in embarrassing you may likely impact you in subsequent years too. The same is true for the fear of long words, also known as sesquipedalophobia.
The word for fear of long words is ironically long in itself. Fear can be described as a social phobia.
Your inability to pronounce certain words like this within a social surrounding at some point in your life may develop this morbid fear.
Ultimately, you try to avoid situations that lead to this phobia and face headaches, increased heartbeat, trembling, or severe panic attacks with its encounter.
1.6. Somniphobia (Fear of Sleep)
There’s so much hype about “less sleep and more productivity” that you steer clear of your sleep needs. On top of that, sleep disorder such as homophobia ravages the amount of sleep you used to manage.
Getting quality sleep is no joke if you go through sleep anxiety. You fear approaching bedtime and do everything to stay awake to avoid the anxiety attacks and disturbance you associate with sleep and bedtime.
It certainly takes a toll on your overall health and leads to insomnia. You may face nervousness, irritation, or nocturnal panic attacks.
Even panic attacks can be why you dread falling asleep as you may have dealt with them in the past while sleeping. Traumatic experiences like sleep paralysis can also severely affect your sleep patterns, causing homophobia.
1.7. Optophobia (Fear of Opening Your Eyes)
Fear of closing one’s eyes seems like a natural one to have in this striving world. However, does fear, like opening one’s eyes to reality, exist?
You may want to put your hands on your eyes to avoid the object or even feelings of fear and prefer to stay in dimly lit areas.
Other than being asleep, closing your eyes is not a helpful act, which only offers a dark, thus desolate life. Such is the outcome of optophobia.
Tachycardia, confusion, dry mouth, or increased blood pressure may be proof you are dealing with this phobia.
Suggested Reading: Most Common Phobias: 8 Unreasonable Fears
1.8. Neophobia (Fear of New Things)
People with neophobia find it hard to deal with uncertainty and resist change as their fear overpowers them.
A little nervousness is normal on the face of novelty. Altering your life’s decisions for fear of accepting new things, or staying with older habits, no matter how damaging they are, might not help you in the long run.
1.8.1. Food Neophobia
Other than that, elderly people and children normally tend to avoid new foods, which may lead to the risk of developing ‘food neophobia’, a study, involving people aged between 25 and 74 years over seven years reported.
The study found food neophobia to be a genetic problem and cause serious results like type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
1.9. Deipnophobia (Fear of Dining)
Dinner can be one of those favorite moments when you get to spend quality time with your loved ones, but what if you get traumatized at the thought of dining?
Whether you escape opportunities to dine with your family or sneak away from dinner parties in public places – social factors intervene – making their way into social phobias.
It interferes with your health and socializing when you avoid dinner conversations or dine out of anxiety or fear of judgment.
Severe panic attacks, trembling, or feeling nauseated are the common symptoms you face dealing with this rare phobia.
A survey involving 10,000 people claimed that 40 percent of them were fearful in restaurants after COVID-19. Being nervous or fearful can be normal while dining out after a long stay during the pandemic. It takes the shape of phobia when you completely avoid socializing.
1.10. Arachibutyrophobia (Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to the Top of Your Mouth)
Even if one can’t resist the taste of this American standard food, still some people can’t put up with this sweet spread.
Sticking peanut butter once in your mouth’s palate is all you need to develop this irrational fear that makes you avoid peanut butter all your life.
Getting anxious about encountering an experience with peanut butter or feeling nauseated can be the signs of this fear.
Moreover, it might bring about cibophobia (A fear of food in which you resist eating certain foods or feel significant distress at the sight of triggered foods), or can even result from it.
1.11. Pogonophobia (Fear of Facial Hair)
The word pogon, meaning beard, has a Greek origin. That way, you can name it a fear of beards. Though the facial hair concept is subjective, that’s how all fears are.
Whereas some of you can be fond of beards, thus pogonophiles, others might even hate it. In this context, it can also be linked to trichophobia, a fear of hair itself. But pogonophobia is a specific phobia of beards.
None of them is identified as a distinct condition in DSM -5, and they can only be categorized as specific phobias on meeting its criteria.
Despite a pogonophobia state of utter dislike for beards, research on more than 900 women by the University of Queensland presented a unique view that women were discouraged by men with beards or found them less attractive due to entomophobia, a fear of lice and bugs not because they were pogonophobia affected.
Signs of pogonophobia can just be plain disgust or severe anxiety, which might be an aftereffect of a traumatic experience with a person having a beard.
1.12. Arachnophobia (Fear of Vegetables)
You, me, and nearly everyone must have frowned upon many veggies at some point, but arachnophobia takes this dislike for veggies to another level. It forces you to avoid eating, touching, smelling, and even seeing veggies.
If you get to see them though mistakenly, or someone not knowingly tries to make you eat, you encounter a feeling of disgust or an intense panic attack. Suffocation, vomiting, and impulsive behavior are also on this list.
Choking incidents with certain foods, acquired habits, and other phobias like cibophobia, and fear of food can join hands resulting in arachnophobia.
1.13. Ephebiphobia (Fear of Teenagers)
In Western culture, this fear has roots in teenagers being haughty and violent with no concern about society’s good.
People, especially adults, find such behavior intolerable, or they can just give in to claims made by the media on portraying youngsters as amoral.
You may get so panicked in the presence of a teenager that you avoid any or every interaction with them and feel symptoms like choking, sweating, and difficulty breathing.
The reasons for cultivating such a phobia might include generalization, misbelief, or any traumatic incident with them.
1.14. Ablutophobia (Fear of Bathing)
This may sound familiar to kids, but you might carry it over to adulthood, making this acute fear more challenging.
Cleanliness in every form ensures you better health and escaping it makes it difficult for you to socialize. Thus you make way for social isolation. The reason for this fear may be an unpleasant experience with water in the past, or it can even be passed down from family members.
2. Other Phobias to Know About
2.1. Specific Phobias
Experience extreme fear of encountering a specific thing like string, puppets, and clouds.
2.2. Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
Experience fear of judgment or performing in social situations and avoid them.
Experience intense fear in open spaces where you feel confined.
Humans are always fascinated by the limitless, and phobias are the same. From the fear of marriage to children, feet to hands, cleaning to dirt, losing phones to technology, and the list goes on.
Some of them are common phobias, while others aren’t.
3. Dealing with Phobias
A sufferer’s life can get entangled in dealing with these extremely debilitating fears. Avoiding the object of fear may not be the best fit. Therefore, the role of therapy can give desired results. Let’s see what works for phobias by looking at some treatment options.
3.1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This technique may help you logically think about your fears and manage them well.
3.2. Exposure Therapy
Another psychotherapy lets you expose yourself to your fear and feel anxiety in a protective setting to learn to face it in the face of actual risk.
Such as antidepressants can be taken on the prescription of a qualified mental health professional.
3.4. Mindfulness Exercises and Support Groups
These additional resources can also provide specific relief, but can’t replace medical treatment.
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- Craske, Michelle G., et al. “What is an anxiety disorder?.” Focus 9.3 (2011): 369-388. ↩︎
- Yildirim, Caglar, and Ana-Paula Correia. “Exploring the dimensions of nomophobia: Development and validation of a self-reported questionnaire.” Computers in human behavior 49 (2015): 130-137. ↩︎
- Papsdorf, Michael, and Lynn Alden. “Mediators of social rejection in social anxiety: Similarity, self-disclosure, and overt signs of anxiety.” Journal of Research in Personality 32.3 (1998): 351-369. ↩︎
- Møller, Aage R. “Misophonia, phonophobia, and “exploding head” syndrome.” Textbook of tinnitus (2011): 25-27. ↩︎
- Watts, Michael. “Globophobia.” The Wiley‐Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization (2012). ↩︎
- Khan, Nasrullah. “Number Mania and Triskaidekaphobia.” ↩︎