We tend to define a phobia as ‘an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something’. You are probably aware of the more common phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), and agoraphobia (fear of open places), but did you know there are also words which describe the fear of idleness, worms, and even body odour?
Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.
If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that’s causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.
Most of my fears are considered more rational ones, things that actually could happen and could cause problems, some of them are: the fear of failure, letting people down, not being “good” enough, ending up alone, being unable to afford the basics of food/heat/medical care.
Saying that though, I do have some irrational fears and I will write about those as they’re probably more interesting.
Clowns: Coulrophobia: I probably blame countless books/films/TV shows where evil clowns are abundant and over the years I’ve managed to formulate why I hate them, as opposed to just hating them. I find their makeup scary, as someone who suffers with anxiety and depression, I need to know that the smile on the outside is real, as opposed to being painted on despite what is actually happening underneath if you see what I mean? If someone is sad, that’s as fine as if they were happy but there’s no point hiding.
Moths: Mottephobia: The fear of butterflies and moths is called lepidopterophobia. Mottephobia, or the fear of moths alone, is closely related to this phobia. Those who suffer generally call themselves mottephobes. Ok, this is a very odd one, it’s not butterflies as well, it’s just moths, the butterflies of the night. I think this has come from being attacked by moths whilst at parties and the like and no matter where I go, they just seem to follow me. It’s weird because I do enjoy butterfly houses and when we last went to the Natural History Museum, they had an exhibit on moths and I managed to finally see a Death’s Head (the one from the Silence of the Lambs) and it was stunningly beautiful. Who knows, maybe i’m maturing in my old age!
Spiders: Arachnophobia: I think this is probably the most feared creature on the planet, I keep trying to organise myself to get over it but no matter how hard I try, they keep coming to scare the crap out of me! I have got some really (now anyway) funny stories from my fear so I suppose that’s a good thing but it still hasn’t helped me mature enough so that i’m no longer scared!
A couple of funny – ish why I hate spider stories…
- in an argument with my ex, him having got aggressive and me having got away and literally screaming at him “I don’t need you for anything” walking into the bedroom and finding a huge spider sat right in the middle of it, having to climb down in the argument and having to say “I don’t need you for anything, except…….” I’ve never seen someone so smug so quick – and he did get rid of the spider and I managed to eventually get rid of him, so everyone’s a winner in the end 🙂
- Alone in my flat, I saw a spider on the living room wall so as usual (I’d rather not kill a spider) I gave him the speech to say he was welcome so longs as he stayed away from me, he could have the walls, I’d have the floors. Next thing I know, he’s moved and is climbing up the sofa to sit next to me. This freaked me out and I got up and went and sat on my pouffe while the spider had the sofa. Decided after an hour of this that I would go to bed (having no idea where the spider has gone as he went behind the blanket I had on the sofa. Turned all off and went to bed. Woke up desperate for a drink about an hour later so went into the kitchen to get one, turned the light on to see the spider less than 3 inches in front of me, just stood there, not running or moving. Joy.
So there you can see why spiders and I do not get along!!
Best Ways I’ve found to Get Rid of Phobias
Getting rid of phobias requires confronting them. You want to get exposure to your phobia llittle by little (small steps), not all at once. Deal with one birthday clown, then working onto more exposure. If you suffer from the fear of flying, first practice imagining the endeavor from takeoff to landing – or you could do what a friend of mine did which was take a flight over to Argentina (a 9+ hour flight) feeling this would be a kind of kill or cure! Next, to take it slowly try looking at pictures or videos of flight. After that, go hang out at the airport – perhaps even board a plane. The goal here is to retrain your brain’s response to flight, to re-condition your fear response.