The word phobia comes from the Greek word, “phobos”, which is related to having a fear of something, or often what we might call an irrational fear. We are sure you’ve all heard of arachnophobia, which means a fear of spiders, or hydrophobia, which means a fear of water.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19.2 million U.S. adults suffer from phobias, with some of the most common being a fear of spiders, a fear of snakes, a fear of heights, and a fear of flying. But today we’ll focus on the freakiest fears, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Weirdest Phobias People Suffer From.
This is a totally irrational fear of cheese. Yes, there are some people on this planet that just can’t go near a piece of mature cheddar. They run for the hills when the waiter hangs over them with the Parmesan. Turi comes from the Greek meaning cheese, and you know the rest. The English media in 2016 reported about a university student with this phobia, who called her first contact with cheese “traumatic.” However, she did say that mozzarella wasn’t as scary as the other cheeses.
This is the fear of the naval, or what we call the belly button. It might mean these people can’t abide anyone going near their belly button, or that they freak out when close to another person’s belly button. This is a pretty important part of the body, given that it connected us to our mothers. Only recently in 2018, the UK press featured a 25-year old student doctor who suffered from this phobia, with the Daily Mail saying that she “suffers panic attacks and is physically sick” when she sees someone’s navel. As for the other way around, she said, “If someone touches mine, it feels like they are touching my insides and I can feel it all through me.” She may struggle to become a doctor if she doesn’t get over that.
When some people find out that that guy who likes to wear a white spearhead hat will be in town, they decide to take a vacation. The guy is the pope, and Papaphobia is a fear of him. It’s thought this fear is related to other fears concerning being terrified of religious objects. When these people see the pope, their heartbeat quickens, they sweat profusely, and sometimes feel nauseous. Apparently if these folks do see the man, they should quickly swallow a Xanax or some similar type of anti-anxiety medication.
Nomophobia is weird, but according to reports it’s becoming very common among the younger generation. It means the fear of being without your cellphone, or fear of being without a charge, or even without connection to the Internet. Psychology Today says some people are so scared to be without this thing they shower with it, sleep with it, take it literally everywhere. In fact, cell phone addiction has become a big topic in the media, but some might be surprised that people are petrified of being without their device.
A recent UK study consisting of over 2,100 people found that 58 percent of men suffered from this phobia, as did 47 percent of women. In the U.S. it is worse, with 66 percent of all phone users suffering from nomophobia. The Guardian in 2017 said this detachment from the smartphone increases heart rate and blood pressure, causes anxiety, and generally affects users the way drug addicts first feel in the early stages of withdrawal. These “screenagers” have put their lives into this little bleeping box and as most psychologists will tell you, that box was created to be as addictive as anything. Welcome to the world of digital heroin.
Talking about these smartphone junkie teens, some people have a fear of them! Yes, Ephebiphobia is an irrational fear of teenagers or generally young people. We doubt sufferers need to see ID before they get the sweats. In every generation you get those old folks decrying the youth of the day, saying they don’t respect this or that, or in U.S. comedian Doug Stanhope’s opinion, that the digital generation is just not reckless enough. But apparently this aversion to our cute kids is on the rise. The Guardian interviewed one 16-year old who said, “I’ve had people cross the road to avoid me.” But that was due to the age-old fear of kids possibly being aggressive to old people.
Kids these days are subject to moral panic, with older people telling them they are spoiled, too easily offended, until it comes to the point some people just don’t want to be anywhere near youths. But this seems to happen in every generation. One of the first books on the subject from the 1980s said, “Nearly every generation of young people has been chastised for being ‘out of control’ or aberrant in some way. Adult claims of degeneration among the young can be found in nearly every previous decade.” Only Doug Stanhope dislikes the young, he says, because they aren’t aberrant enough.
This one must really suck. Phagophobia is the irrational fear of swallowing. We are told it is sometimes confused with a fear of eating or certain conditions related to weight, but it’s closer to the fear of choking. The amount of research on this must mean it’s quite common. One site tells us, “A person’s throat muscles will flex and spasm during their panic attack, closing the throat and expelling any unwanted items out of the mouth.” This could mean water, food, or medications, so it’s very serious. The answer is therapy.
The fear of the number 13. This person might also have a general fear of numbers, which is numerophobia. Others fear the number 4, which is Tetraphobia. But as for 13, what does that mean? Well, it’s mostly related to superstition, sometimes related to myths, religion, and that generally the number 13 is not a nice number. We have a show on this topic if you want to know more. As Time magazine reported, it’s less a psychological malady than it is a silly superstition. For this reason, some businesses leave out the number on aisles, chairs, floors, or rooms, and believers will stay clear of the number if they do see it.
This is not a good phobia to have if you are actively trying to find someone to date, because it means being terrified of washing, or bathing. It’s more common in kids than in adults, but a few hundred years back in Europe, many people had this phobia. These days it’s thought to be related to traumatic experiences as a child when bathing.
This is certainly one of the most irrational of irrational fears. It’s the fear of having things to the right of you. According to one source, it’s related to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and sufferers will find themselves cluttering things in the home or office all to the left side. They don’t like standing to the left of people or even driving in the left lane. Other people may have levophobia, which is a fear of things being to the left of them. If someone has both phobias then they are really in trouble.
You could say our last phobia might make sense after you’ve watched this show, so it’s the right way to end. As you might guess, it means the fear of having a phobia. So, if you are feeling left out right now as you have no phobias, you might one day acquire this phobia. From the description, it sounds like a panic attack. The anxiety forms in the unconscious, and then suddenly the person will feel dizzy and tense; their heart will pound, they will sweat, and be aware of something bad about to happen.
This anxiety disorder can manifest as panic at any time, because the person is always fearing getting a phobia, sometimes of something they love. As strange as it sounds, it’s actually one of the most common phobias on this list. We’ll leave you with this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “All we have to fear, is fear itself.” Aint that the truth.
So, do any of you out there you have any phobias? Let us know more about it in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video called FBI vs CIA – How do they compare! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!