A phobia is categorized as a type of anxiety disorder, highlighted by a physical or psychological impairment. A phobia can present itself in relation to objects or under situational circumstances. Even anticipating its occurrence can trigger off the phobia. The distinctive trait in identifying phobia is the experience of persistent fear that is excessive and irrational. Health experts estimate that 10% of people experience certain phobias throughout their lives.
Unique Phobias That Defy Logic
It is practically impossible to trace back to the origins of phobia due to the extensive number of variable factors involved. Scientists have shown that genetics play a role in this mental condition, and environmental factors can contribute to its prevalence as well. Prior experience of a traumatic or negative event can pave the way for the development of phobias. Some phobias are well known due to portrayal in pop culture, while others remain relatively unknown and, to many, very strange. Listed below are 6 unique phobias that defy common logic and are rarely understood by others.
- Trypophobia (Fear of Holes)
The Centre for Brain Science, University of Essex published a study on Trypophobia. The authors describe this phobia as an irrational and persistent fear of holes, especially when they are in small clusters. The study experimented with images to induce trypophobia and recorded the activities that go on in the brain when it occurs. They discovered that when these uncomfortable visuals are interpreted by the brain, it automatically stimulates a response that is commonly associated with the presence of danger. Moreover, the study found that most people are not conscious of this phobia until they have to face it head on. It is important to note that trypophobia is still only a proposed phobia, and is not yet a recognized psychiatric condition.
- Nyctophobia (Fear of Darkness)
Also known as achluophobia, lygophobia or scotophobia, Nyctophobia feeds on an individual’s irrational fear of the dark. While symptoms of nyctophobia are more prevalent in children, studies have shown that adults are also at risk. Perhaps the most famous person known to suffer from nyctophobia is Hollywood actor, Keanu Reeves. His ardent fans would know of all the personal ordeals that he had to go through: the birth of a still-born child, the death of his girlfriend and the demise of his best friend. Having seen the extreme darkness of life, one would definitely not expect him to suffer from nyctophobia. However, Keanu Reeves does not believe that his phobia is irrational. In fact, he characterizes it as a philosophical phobia.
- Obesophobia (Fear of Gaining Weight)
The fear of putting on weight is becoming more common in modern society, especially when the media continues to portray unrealistic standards of beauty. Most cases of obesophobia originate from a distorted self-image, and the symptoms tend to vary from one individual to the other. For instance, if family members perceive dieting as a natural way of life, individuals might pick up on this and start to develop an aversion towards weight gain. In other situations, individuals might become obsessive over weight loss programs, display extreme guilt after each meal or constantly deny their hunger. Severe cases of obesophobia can potentially lead to life-threatening conditions.
- Thalassophobia (Fear of Deep Waters/Sea)
Derived from the Greek word “Thalassa”, which means sea, thalassophobia is aptly used to describe the intense fear of the sea. Health professionals have also used this term to describe the fear of being in large bodies of water, fear of the endless horizon of the sea, or fear of deep waters in general. Thalassophobia can also develop from an individual’s extreme fear of sea creatures. While some people are fortunate enough to be free of this phobia, others have not been so lucky. The most prominent person suffering from thalassophobia is professional tennis player, Rafael Nadal. For all his on-court exploits, it is hard to imagine that he has a specific fear of the sea.
- Sociophobia (Fear of Socializing)
This might come as a shock to some, but sociophobia is a mental condition where the patient exhibits an extreme fear of social gatherings, drastically hindering their ability to socialize. People suffering from this phobia are also known to anticipate embarrassing situations in public, and this can lead them to avoid these circumstances totally. When not managed adequately, sociophobia can have serious effects on the patient’s life. Not only would it severely limit the ability to work, it also hinders the development of any relationship. In extreme cases, patients might become restricted to their homes and refuse to head out.
- Cynophobia (Fear of Dogs)
Another fascinating trait of the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, is his fear of dogs. Most celebrities are well-known for their love of animals, and many are proud owners of more than one dog. This is not the case for Nadal. It is hard to imagine that with the nickname of The Spanish Raging Bull, he actually suffers from cynophobia. According to a report published by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, the fear of dogs accounts for 36% of animal phobias.
The onset of any phobia can be quite disturbing, and may potentially lead to traumatic experiences. While most people learn to live with their irrational fears, the severity of some cases means that the condition must be treated professionally. Although most people can relate to certain phobias, there are some that really test the limits of common logic.