Episode 16: Everything About Phobias

Episode 16: Everything About Phobias

APA-Figuring Out Phobias



Some Unusual Phobias

image: Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Acerophobia: Fear of sourness 

  • people who hate the pucker like lemons or sweet tarts

  • Acerophobes avoid the tongue zinging feeling whenever possible.

hand black and white woman white photography female finger darkness black monochrome arm close up fear nude emotion violence interaction anguish sense monochrome photography

image: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1177140

Phobophobia: No laughing matter.

  • Phobos Greek god of fear

  • At their base, phobias are about anxiety. Anxious people are more likely to have or develop a phobia. And experience the sweaty symptoms of fear. Worrying about that possibility is phobophobia.


image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:InflatableBalloons.jpg

Globophobia: fear of balloons

  • not just the balloon but also could be the fear of being popped

Fear Around the World

Rates for different phobias vary widely around the world. In the US approx 8% of adults (11.5 million) or to put it in perspective, 1:23 people have a specific phobia.

  • But only 22% of those cases are considered severe

  • According to an article by the Washington post: US top fears Public speaking, heights, bugs/snakes

  • the most common fear in the UK is acrophobia, fear of heights. Closely followed by Glossophobia, fear of public speaking
  • Democrats are more likely to have a fear of clowns than Republicans

Watching a Chinese language blog there was a video where the author interviewed Chinese people about their fears. What was interesting is that while there were a few who said spiders or mice or the weather. The over whelming sentiment was a fear of loneliness or lack of family. Or even fear of letting down family.

  • One study done in Iceland had agoraphobia as the most common phobia, then social phobia – social anxiety
  • In India, Mysophobia is on the rise. Fear of germs and contamination.




A little of the brain science of phobias.

Figuring Out Phobia APA

American Psychological Association

Figuring Out Phobia by Lea Winerman

  • Phobias: Exaggerated fears.
  • More than 10 million adults in the US have phobias according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

New York University Psychologist Jospeh LeDoux, PhD

Two fear responses: 

  • Sudden, unexpected fear triggers amygdala response-not enough time to analyze true level of threat-quick response to sudden danger.
  • Simultaneously, more measured evaluation to determine appropriate response to true level of danger is occurring and can take over. It is more precise and accurate evaluation but takes longer.
  • Phobias and fear disorders related to some type of dysfunction in amygdala or related area. 

Arne Ohman, PhD at the Clinical Neuro Science Department of Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Ohman Study NCBI

  • Pictures were flashed at participants too quickly to register consciously. Fears and phobias had same response from amygdala. 
  • Pictures flashed slow enough to consciously register. Fears-no amygdala response. Phobias, amygdala response.


Wikipedia Phobias

Phobias CommonAnxiety.com

Greek god Phobos origin of word.  God of fear-personified.  

  • Phobias documented as early as 600 BC. Byzantine emperor Heraclius had a phobia of bodies of water large enough to drown in.
  • 440 BC Hippocrates dcomunted phobic behavior.
  • 63 BC Augustus Caesar had a fear of lightning. Witnessed someone struck by lightning. Built a temple to Jupiter wherein he could hide underground. 
  • 50 AD, Roman doctor Celsus coined the term phobia. Defined fear of water as hydrophobia. 
  • 1162 AD Genghis Kahn had cynophobia-fear of dogs. 
  • 1786 Oxford English Dictionary phobias as a fear of an imaginary evil or an undue fear of a real one.
  • 1895 Winston Churchill-glossophobia-fear of public speaking.
  • 1920’s FDR-pyrophobia-fear of fire. Worsened by lack of mobility which would hinder escape.
  • 1940’s Hitler had dendrophobia-fear of dentists. Yellowing teeth, abscesses, gum disease, bad breath.
  • 1947 Phobias became a separate diagnostic category in the International Classification of Diseases.
  • 1951 Classified by American Psychiatric Association.


Pogonophobia: Fear of beards.

Pogonophobia Wikipedia

Pogonophobia Psyche.media (Photo Courtesy of same)

Pogon: Greek word for beard.

1920s Dr John Watson conditioned fear of bears into a young boy via classical conditioning methods. 

Beardism: Discrimination based on facial hair.  

Some association with poor hygiene.

Last US president to have a beard was Benjamin Harrison.

One challenge can be finding a therapist who will take the phobia seriously.

Omphalophobia: Fear of navels.

Omphalophobia Fearof.net

Fear of having belly button touched or tugged by self or others. 

Fear of seeing others touch their belly buttons.

Can become uncomfortable, nauseated, anxious.