We’re all a little scared of something and those fears can morph into anxiety, making life that little bit more unbearable at times. For most of us, we never need to face our fears and even when we do they are far from debilitating. For others though, those fears are life changing, as evidenced by sufferers of these strange and rare phobias.
Fear of the Dark: Nyctophobia
A fear of the dark isn’t one of the rarest or strangest phobias. It’s a fear that commonly presents in children and one that isn’t entirely illogical. After all, we can’t see into the darkness and we don’t know what exists there. It’s a fear that serves as a foundation for many others fears, whether because we’re scared that the dark will hold monsters and imaginary beasts, or something altogether more human and just as deadly.
In the words of Iron Maiden (because we’ll use any excuse we can get to quote these heavy metal heroes).
“Fear of the dark; I have a phobia that someone’s always there.”
Fear of Work: Ergophobia
A fear of work is not just something that most teenagers have, it’s something that goes a little deeper than simply being lazy and lacking drive. It’s a fear of rejection, judgement and criticism rolled into one. In other words, ergophobia is less about work and the act of working itself and more about the judgement that comes after it has been completed.
Fear of Needles: Trypanophobia
This is a fairly common phobia and one that seems to stem from childhood. No child likes getting a needle jabbed in their arm and depending on how those first few jabs go, that distaste may develop into a full blown fear. It doesn’t always have a plain and obvious cause though and this fear may stem from many other issues in one’s past or psychology.
Fear of Crowds: Enochlophobia
A fear that ties in with other social phobias and can present with severe panic attacks, feelings of dread and overwhelming anxiety. Someone who has a fear of crowds isn’t necessarily someone who is introverted and doesn’t leave the house. They can seem perfectly normal and sociable, but change completely when in a crowded place, often feeling like there is no escape.
Fear of Commitment: Gamophobia
It’s been the foundation of many sitcom jokes and male stereotypes, but there is a genuine fear of commitment, albeit one that doesn’t present in the ways you might think. The word comes from the Greek words for “Fear of Marriage” and can present with symptoms similar to a fear of dying and growing old.
Fear of Flying: Acrophobia
Another common fear that is highly irrational, a fear of flying stems from a lack of understanding and a lack of control. The truth is that you are considerably more likely to die on the way to the airport than on the flight itself, but despite this fact there are still many more people with a fear of flying than there are people with a fear of driving or being in a car.
Of course, the key difference is that people are either driving or near the driver in a car. They are also doing something they have done since they were young and something they are familiar with. In planes, however, they are putting their life in the hands of a pilot they don’t know and can’t even see and that, combined with the fact they are flying at great speeds and great heights combines to create this irrational fear.
Fear of Hospitals: Nosocomephobia
You have to be a little strange not to have some kind of aversion to hospitals, let’s be honest. However, someone with a fear of hospitals, known as “nosocomephobia”, is driven to extreme dread and panic attacks at the mere thought of going to a hospital, usually because they associate them with end of life care, illness and death.
Fear of Clowns: Coulrophobia
Killer clowns are something that everyone should fear and it is thanks to the reigns of terror from the likes of Chicago’s own John Wayne Gacy, as well as the countless horror films about murderous clowns, that this fear is so prominent. There is also something innately terrifying about those big, happy faces and sad eyes—they are expressions that hide mystery and intrigue.
Clowns are often hired for children’s parties and it’s at this young age, when this loud, colorful and somewhat annoying stranger makes an impact, that coulrophobia may develop.
Fear of Fear: Phobophobia
Franklin D. Roosevelt said that there was, “Nothing to fear but fear itself”. And as far as sufferers of phobophobia were concerned, he was talking quite literally. It’s the feelings associated with fear that sufferers of this phobia don’t like. The panic, the anxiety—it’s something that none of us looks forward to but something that people with phobophobia dread and do all they can to avoid.
Fear of the Lord: Theophobia
This is actually a fear of religion and deities in general and is not tied to any specific religion. It is a fear often suffered by religious people as it’s a fear associated with the wrath of God as opposed to the deity itself.
Fear of Getting Old: Gerascophobia
Old age is one of the many unfortunate facts of life, one that we all dread but one that we will ultimately face sooner or later. If you suffer from gerascophobia then it’s a fear that doesn’t go away and is considerably harder to accept. People with a fear of getting old will do all they can to reverse the aging process and to stay as young as possible.
Their fear may revolve around looks, but in most cases a fear of getting old stems from a fear of being abandoned by friends and family, either because children have grown and flown the nest, or because friends and older family members have passed away.
Fear of Belly Buttons: Omphalophobia
It’s fair to say that a fear of belly buttons, or navels if you prefer, is extremely rare and irrational, but it does exist and people with this fear do not like their own or other people’s navel, refusing to touch and even look at them.
Fear of Mirrors: Catoptrophobia
This fear stems from a fear of what they might see, whether rationally or not. It’s an incredibly rare fear and one that is also known as “spectrophobia”. It tends to be a morbid far and one that isn’t too far removed from the fear of getting old mentioned above.