Oh, Don’t Be Such a Phobe

At Halloween, people enjoy a good scare. It’s fear for fun.

What’s unusual is not everyone is afraid of the same things. Human beings have a long list of things that frighten the bejeebers out of them. Some of them are fairly mundane fears; Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders and Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. Nyctophobia is the fear of the dark, and most people grow out of it. Take their classic Latin/Greek root and add phobia (or fear) to the end, and voila, you have a term to define your own special fear.

While phobias aren’t a laughing matter, some people develop a host of unusual fears. Experts say the best way to confront a fear is to face it, and maybe even poke some fun at it.

Each fear, no matter how obscure seems to have its own name. Agoraphobia is the fear of open or public spaces. It takes its root from the agora, which is the name for the marketplace in Athens. It’s pretty common; especially if you’re trapped in downtown Pittsburgh after a Steelers’ game lets out.

Experts say the best way to confront a fear is to face it, and maybe even poke some fun at it.

Halloween must be very hard on people who have Spectrophobia, the fear of ghosts, or Wiccaphobia, the fear of witches (avoid the movie, “Hocus Pocus”.) If you have Alliumphobia, you are afraid of garlic. Of course, you could also possibly be a vampire or just allergic.

Halloween can be a dicey time, even if you have Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. Hate when a black cat crosses your path? You might have Ailurophobia, or fear of cats.

Have you ever heard of Bogyphobia? It’s the fear of the bogeyman. P.S. The bogeyman is not a real thing.

Ever want to approach that hot guy or gal from across the bar, but you were too afraid? You might have Kakorrhaphiophobia, the fear of failure and rejection.

If you find a disco ball at the dance club frightening, you might have Selaphobia, the fear of flashing light. No parking on the dance floor, baby.

Don’t get caught on Herron Avenue, if you have Ursaphobia, the fear of bears (I’m not sure it applies to gay bears, but you can never be too cautious). You should avoid the place if you have Lupophobia (fear of wolves) or Lutraphobia (fear of otters).

You will have to get out there and date, though, especially if you have Anuptaphobia, the fear of staying single.

Some fears can be oddly sexual; Pteronophobia is the fear of being tickled by feathers. That’s why it’s always good to have a safe word.

Avoid the mall if you have Ephebiphobia, the fear of teenagers.

Gymnophobia is the fear of nudity. It sounds like its origins go back to high school gym class.

You might want to avoid peanut butter and jelly time if you have Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. That sounds more like an inconvenience than a fear.

Avoid Chinese restaurants if you have Consecotaleophobia, the fear of chop sticks.

Patrick Stewart probably gives you the heebie jeebies if you have Peladophobia, the fear of bald people.

There’s Paraskavedekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. The best way to avoid this fear is to not plan a trip to Camp Crystal Lake, or just start drinking margaritas on Thursday the 12 and be black-out drunk the entire next day.

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is the fear of the number 666. If you have this fear, it’s best to avoid Heavy Metal album covers from the 70s and 80s.

Ostraconophobia is the fear of shellfish. Red Lobster’s “Lobstermania” takes on a whole new meaning when you have Ostraconophobia.

There’s Eisotrophobia, the fear of mirrors. Though, you might not have Eistrophobia. You might have just have Eniophobia, the fear of chins (plural).

There’s Porphyrophobia, the fear of the color purple. Those people must quiver and shake every time they see Whoopi Goldberg.

Ironically, Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. If you just read that word and freaked out a little, you probably have it. Of course, you might just have Verbophobia, the fear of words. It’s also called Logophobia. There is a camp of people who believe that Logophobia is fear of the having to sit through the movie, “Mulligans,” again.

Every Monday, you might come down with a case of Ergophobia, the fear of work.

There’s Pogonophobia, the fear of beards. Liza Minnelli? Steadman Graham? Kelly Preston? They might mean the facial fuzzy variety.

If you have Cyberphobia, the fear of computers, I don’t know how you’re reading this.

Editor’s Note: In case you were wondering why we didn’t mention Homophobia and Transphobia in the article, it is because they are not actually a fear, and therefore it should not be treated as a disease might be treated. While both terms continue to be used in our vocabulary, the words have evolved over time to mean more hatred than fear. Both deserve a much more comprehensive, serious discussion.

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)