A phobia is an overwhelming (and often unreasonable) fear of an item or situation that provokes anxiety and sometimes even leads to complete and total avoidance. And some of them are really grim.
- Coulrophobia: the fear of clowns
Why do so many people hate clowns? And why would others want to play on their fear?
A group in 2016 terrorised England by dressing as clowns and basically freaking out unsuspecting members of the public. They were trying to create some sort of real-life Pokemon Go, but many people didn’t slow down when seeing the clowns standing in the road, most likely because of the group members who took it too far – one unfortunate man was left permanently scarred after a clown caught his hand with a kitchen knife. Other clowns were seen brandishing chainsaws and other weapons.
- Arachnophobia: the fear of spiders
A list of fears wouldn’t be complete without spiders. Little ones, big ones and snake-eating ones, there is every type imaginable and the babies of some breeds even eat their mother for their first meal.
- Ophidiophobia: the fear of snakes
Does the idea of watching ‘Snakes on a Plane’ render you speechless? If so, you’re not alone. If you’ve seen any of the Indiana Jones movies, you’ll know that the man who explored through jungles, caves and more was scared of only one thing: snakes.
Of all the horrible creatures out there, why snakes? Well, some are venomous and can kill with a single poisonous bite and did you know that some are literally man-eaters? They’ll stretch out their bodies to ‘size up’ their victims over time and are capable of eating people whole.
You’ve probably seen cartoon pictures of snakes with creatures in their stomach, such as a goat, but this is unrealistic. They actually slowly slither over the creature and as they devour their prey, they crush every bone in the body, making any attempt of escape futile.
- Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: the fear of long words
The grim thing about this one isn’t the fear itself, but the name. Many phobias have incredibly cruel names…
The fear of long words is genuinely called ‘hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia’. Imagine trying to tell someone that!
- Galeophobia: the fear of sharks
Many people are terrified of sharks to the point where they won’t go swimming on holiday just in case one swims too close to the shore. Sharks kill an estimated 12 people a year, which is a scary number, however with pollution and rubbish in the water, it’s estimated that humans kill thousands of sharks a week.
- Acrophobia: the fear of heights
Sometimes heights can’t be avoided. Hotels don’t always have a low-floor room available and it’s not ideal to travel the world by boat or jet… especially if you just want to visit Australia for a week.
Some people fear heights so badly the escalators at the local shopping centre give them vertigo. For others a cliff-top lookout or a tall building makes their head spin.
Vertigo is different to the phobia and is the sense of dizziness people can develop.
- Phasmophobia and Daemonophobia: the fear of ghosts and demons
If you believe in ghosts, then you probably believe that they’re everywhere. In every room of every building. On every street in every town. In every park and on every sandy beach.
Ever see a dark shadow in the corner of your room? Ever see your pets watching empty spaces even though you can’t see anything there? They’re literally everywhere. And they might just be watching you when you’re relaxing, when you’re using the toilet and when you’re sleeping.
- Catoptrophobia: the fear of mirrors
Many people across the world – usually people who are scared of ghosts – are afraid of mirrors… especially in the middle of the night when they get up in the dark to use the toilet.
Some people don’t have a single mirror in their home while others keep their mirrors covered up when they’re not in use.
The most common fear relates to the mirror’s potential link with the supernatural and that a ghostly, or even bloody, face will pop up in the mirror as they look into the glass.
Other people are even afraid of their own reflection, or of reflected words due to the writing looking like gibberish.
- Nyctophobia: the fear of the dark
Another common and totally unavoidable fear is that of the dark. It comes round every evening – and when we close our eyes. We can’t escape it, but so many people are scared of what could be lurking in the shadows. It’s often a fear from childhood, out of an enhanced imagination and a concern of the unknown. And the two fears listed above only make it worse…
- Germophobia: the fear of bacteria and microorganisms
People with germophobia hate to leave the house, or have anyone come into their houses, out of fear that they will touch something covered in dangerous bacteria.
Sufferers find themselves washing their hands as much as they can and the obsessive behaviour often enough to put them at risk of dry and red-raw skin.
- Thantophobia: the fear of death
People have died in every possible way… Elton John even died while sitting on the toilet. And that has led some people to an intense fear they just can’t shake.
Knowing that people have died after falling out of bed in the morning can make sufferers of thantophobia reluctant to do anything, go anywhere, or speak to anyone. What happened to living while you’re alive?
- Anthophobia – the fear of flowers
Yes, really. They’re beautiful and smell wonderful but some people are genuinely afraid of flowers. Some people believe that the fear is actually of the bugs and bees that are found around flowers but those with anthophobia are sometimes afraid of artificial flowers too.