10 Bizarre Phobias (You May Actually Already Have)

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“Fear is the mind-killer.” In the legendary science fiction novel Dune, the adage is used to propel Paul Atreides forward to overcome his fears and become the leader that he’s destined to be. Fear stands in his way, and it also stands in the way of most individuals in their daily life. However, for some, that fear develops into a phobia.

The controlling nature that phobias have over the mind and the body can leave one incapacitated, unable to confront things or objects that are not real threats. In many ways, the phobias that individuals possess demonstrate the great power of the mind over the body, leaving individuals paralyzed in fear when interacting with things as innocuous as waffles. Many phobias appear to be random, without any underlying meaning; however, most develop as a result of some sort of known or unknown trauma. Here are 10 of the most bizarre phobias you may actually have.

10. Xanthophobia proves that a color can be menacing

Fear of a color, especially the color yellow, seems to be particularly bizarre (unless you’re Green Lantern). Red, maybe. But Yellow? The truth is that Xanthophobia has developed as a result of yellow’s attachment to some harrowing experience. For example, in China, the color yellow began to be feared because it was the color of an imperial scarf that signaled an order to commit suicide. The color then began to cause fears and insecurities in objects that had no relation to imperial orders. Similarly, many individuals develop a fear of yellow as a child after being stung by a bee.

As a result of Xanthophobia, victims will close their eyes in anxiety, or have a panic attack, when witnessing something as innocuous as a daffodil. Those who suffer from Xanthophobia describe being unable to eat cheese, lemonade, eggs, and bananas. That’s right: no lemonade on a hot summer day. And just to make things even more bizarre, sufferers even claim to close their eyes at the sight of their own urine. Imagine that.

9. Turophobia means no cheese

Now, we mentioned previously that those who fear the color yellow may end up fearing cheese. But it turns out there is another phobia built solely around the fear of the dairy product.

Meet Katie Weston. She developed a cheese phobia after an experience as a child where a cheese string caused her to throw-up in her friend’s trash bin. It’s a traumatic memory, according to Katie; one that has kept her from cheese her whole life. That hasn’t kept her friends from trying to bridge the gap. She highlights one incident where, “my friend was putting a cheese string on my face and it was making me really anxious.”

Her phobia has interfered with her work at a restaurant, where the other staff members have to handle the cheese boards. The smell alone is too much for Katie, who even washes her hands if she happens to brush a board with her fingertips. One of the biggest difficulties for Katie is the looks of disapproval from others who judge her phobia. She hopes that people will become more aware of the phobia and not judge her and others like her.

8. Hylophobia causes people to fear nature

Taken from the Greek word, Hylo, (meaning forest) and of course phobia, meaning fear, Hylophobia is probably one of the more understandable phobias on our list, with the constant depiction in movies and TV shows that the forest is a lonely, scary place. Even some of our favorite childhood books, Harry Potter, seem to add our natural aversion to the forest (thanks to the ominously named Forbidden Forest).

However, as mentioned, there is quite a difference between an aversion to being left alone in a forest and a phobia. Many who are actual sufferers of Hylophobia will become overcome with social anxiety and have an urge to flee. Not only that, but many will break out in screaming fits, the likes of which can only be seen in the worst of horror films.

7. Omphalophobia causes people to fear their own body parts

One of the most unlikely and bizarre phobias on our list is Omphalophobia, or fear of the belly button. The phobia does not simply pertain to fear of other’s navels, but fear of their own as well. Sufferers are unlikely to touch their belly button and sometimes the sight of it can cause them discomfort and anxiety.

One of the more famous victims was singer Jenny Frost, who warned people against touching her navel area. Another celebrity who is a noted Omphalophobic is Khloe Kardashian, who reports feeling “disgusted just touching her belly because of the presence of belly button.” Like all phobias on our list, the origin of Omphalophobia stems from a negative experience or event that has become associated with the body part.

6. Nomophobia is a product of technological advances

If there’s any phobia that’s a product of the 21st century, it’s Nomophobia, or the fear of being out of cellular contact. As young adults continue to be more and more reliant on their phones, it’s not surprising that an anxiety has developed at the thought of losing the ability to use their devices. A study commissioned by research organization YouGov has found that more than half of British mobile phone users become anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.” In addition, the study has found that are men are more susceptible, with 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women suffering from Nomophobia. Additionally, 9 percent feel stressed when their mobile phones are off.

Americans were just as likely to fall victim to Nomophobia. Statistics show that 65 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their cell phones while 34 percent admitted to even answering their cell phone during intimate moments with their significant other.  

Additionally, one in five people would rather go without shoes for a week than without their cell phone. A decision that millions of people in the third world don’t even have the opportunity to make.

5. Ombrophobia may have its origins in hardships of our ancestors

From love scenes, to dramatic action sequences, rain rarely is portrayed as harmful or negative… but don’t tell that to Ombrophobes. Even the slightest drizzle can cause sufferers to have panic attacks or visions of being swept away in a flood of rain. Some theories hold that Ombrophobia is the result of the genetic composition of the person, rooted in our ancestral fear of landslides and heavy rains that had and continue to threaten cities and people, like we’re currently seeing with Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic impact on Houston this week.

As a result, a self-defense mechanism develops centered around rain that causes sufferers to maintain a “seemingly” rational fear of rain. However, many believe that the cause of the phobia is similar to others in that a painful experience came to be associated with rain. Like they probably actually paid for a ticket to see Hard Rain in the theater, or something.

4. Papaphobia may be a result of controversy surrounding Catholic Church

There are many theories that try to explain one of our most bizarre phobias: fear of the Pope. One holds that, as a result of the growing scandals surrounding the Catholic Church people have grown fearful of the highest authority within the Church, the Pope himself. The media portrayals of the molestation and the repeated connection to “His Holiness” may have resulted in the phobia of the Pope himself.

Another theory argues that suffers just have a fear of sacred things and the Pope is the manifestation of those irrational anxieties. Some of the symptoms of those with Papaphobia is a feeling of extreme anxiety or dread, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and heart palpitations at the prospect of witnessing the Pope.

3. Uranophobia is fear of the celestial city

If you thought fear of the Pope was bizarre, those who suffer from Uranophobia will leave you tongue-tied. Victims of Uranophobia have an irrational fear of heaven, demonstrating nausea, lightheadedness, and intense terror at the thought of the celestial city.

It can be surmised that the enormity of heaven and all it entails (meeting one’s creator, being surrounded by one’s loved ones, and the angels) might become an overwhelming concept. Some might even deduce that the tension of entering a city of righteousness might make a sufferer of this phobia terrified that they could be deemed unworthy of residence, and therefore developing or exacerbating the phobia.

2. Trypophobia may have scientific explanation

One of the most hotly debated phobias on our list is Trypophobia. Many psychiatrists deem that the victim’s symptoms are not worthy of the status of a phobia. However, other psychiatrists hold that the feelings of anxiety and uncomfortableness when viewing patterns or shapes resembling small holes warrants it being considered a legitimate phobia. Some psychologists have argued that the aversion to the patterns of small holes comes from a fear rooted in our ancestors, who had to worry about things like bee hives, poisonous flowers, and venomous creatures, all of which share a similar circular pattern.

Researchers have found that thousands of people claim to be suffering from Trypophobia and describe feelings of stomach pain and skin irritation, to go along with symptoms related to panic attacks. Even everyday objects such as waffles can cause an adverse reaction, with many reporting the images of sinkholes brings particular discomfort to sufferers. With most phobias developing as a result of a traumatic experience involving said phenomena, what makes Trypophobia so bizarre is the unlikeliness that holes could be linked to a traumatic experience.

Some psychologists have suggested that it’s more of a discomfort and an uneasiness than a phobia. Professors at the University of Essex proposed that the avoidance of such images and patterns was a result of them requiring excessive oxygenation. According to their research, Trypophobic images may require more oxygenation and therefore are inherently uncomfortable to look at. So, maybe we’ve found a rational response to an irrational fear.

1. Triskaidekaphobia has become a part of American culture

The most well-known phobia on our list has grown to such heights that some offices avoid having a 13th floor. The irrational fear of the number 13 is pervasive in American society (Friday the 13th, and so forth). There are many theories for the origin of the fear of 13, with one being biblical in nature. Starting in the late 19th century, some believe that fear of 13 propagated from religious circles because Judas, the traitor, was the 13th to join Jesus at the Last Supper.

Another theory comes from the age of Hammurabi where in the Babylonian code the 13th law is omitted. More attention, however, has been placed on a series of unfortunate events that have involved number 13. One of the most notable events was the oxygen tank explosion that almost doomed the launch of Apollo 13; however, the crew did manage to return safely 6 days later.


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