There are well over a hundred recognised, NAMED phobias – with new ones being added all the time.
A common one is Agoraphobia: generally but erroneously thought of as being a fear of open spaces – like the guy in “The Avengers” who awakens one morning to find his bed has been placed on the centre spot at Wembley.
He looks around, begins screaming – then has a heart attack and dies. He is the first victim of a murderer who is using people’s fears to kill them.
Great TV – but utter hogwash. Agoraphobia literally translates as fear of the market place. In short, bustling crowds – not open spaces.
Then there is the fear of germs (popularly, Germophobia). Howie Mandel has that one – it is why he “fist-bumps” instead of shaking hands. Others will wash their hands dozens of times a day.
Marry a Germophobe and you will always have a clean house.
Of course, “Monica” in “Friends” was obsessively clean and tidy – but maddeningly controlling.
A wider variant is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Recently, TV character “Monk” displayed this phenomenon. He could not walk beside a fence without touching all of the post tops.
And while he wore a neatly buttoned shirt, he did NOT wear a tie – a fact that was never referred to (the writers left that one for the viewers to appreciate).
OCD sufferers will say the same thing twenty times until they get it right. They will check the doors, windows, gas and electrical outlets several times before they can settle down for the night.
Gelotophobes fear being laughed at – no joke.
Plus there are people who fear the number 666 (Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobes).
And others who fear flying (Aviophobia). Or have Osmaphobia – a fear of FARTS.
There is even a fear of phobias (Phobophobia).
In short, just about every facet of daily life can provoke abnormal fear or anxiety and everybody HAS them – some of which they may not even be aware of.
They used to be called people’s “funny little ways” – and thus they ARE, unless they affect people’s ability to FUNCTION.
Howard Hughes developed CHRONIC OCD in his later years. Stories came out of the penthouse suites of the various luxury hotels where he shut himself away – that beggared belief.
It was said that his haircuts cost $1,000 – a lot of money in the Sixties (although of course, he could afford it) – since he insisted each hair be cut separately, to the exact same length.
And when he dropped a glass on the floor he walked barefoot on, he had the floor divided into a grid of one-inch squares, then had each examined for shards – with a microscope. It took DAYS.
But while Howard and others have been rendered DISFUNCTIONAL by these fears, most of us just carry on.
I once dropped a glass on my tiled living room floor – and inspected each tile with a torch. But it only took me half an hour and I found ALL the shards. No biggie.
I crush beverage cans before discarding them.
I peel the labels off plastic shower-gel and shampoo containers – to reveal their pure shape, unblemished by “busy” labels.
I keep LISTS. Do YOU? You’re OCD!!!
The bottom line is – while we ALL have these traits, very few people actually need medication. For the rest of us, they only become a problem if we LET them.
I LAUGH at my phobias.
So should YOU.