By Ruth Minshull
Some years ago, while visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Dallas, I spent part of an afternoon in the huge public library looking for the word describing the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (Arachibutyrophobia).
Nowadays, of course, a person can acquire such information in minutes on the Web. If you can think of it, you can Google it. The only pitfall in this wondrous convenience is the risk of becoming entertainingly sidetracked.
In fact, while writing the reference above I, once again, had to look up Arachibutyrophobia. (I so seldom need the word.) I went to Google and typed in “fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth” and got 1870 hits.
I located the word immediately, but in the process I stumbled onto an enthralling site that listed over 500 phobias—all genuine. Wow! A cornucopia of neuroses. How could there possibly be so many? I wondered. Are people really that messed up?
I was hooked. I had to peruse that list.
First I spotted Acarophobia—the fear of itching. Well, an itch is not usually pleasant, but fearing it?
Nearby I discovered Acerophobia, which is the fear of sourness. What does such an afflicted person do? Hide in the closet when he sees a lemon? Scream in terror at the appearance of a pickle jar? A trip through the supermarket must be nightmarish.
There’s a fear of asymmetrical things (Asymmetriphobia). What would happen if a woman so afflicted inadvertently married a man who suffered with Symmetrophobia (fear of symmetry)? That union would end faster than a Hollywood marriage.
On the other hand, some people are made for each other. A person with Dextrophobia (fear of objects at the right side of the body) could pair up with a Levophobic (one who fears things to the left side of the body). They could flank each other appropriately (“I gotcha covered, Babe.”) and live happily ever after.
A fusspot with Ataxophobia (fear of disorder or untidiness) must be a barrel of laughs to have around.
Now a woman cursed with Aurophobia (fear of gold) if combined with a fear of diamonds, could be a low-maintenance dream wife. Sorry guys, I couldn’t find any name for fear of diamonds. I doubt if such a phobia exists. In fact, I’d be a little suspicious of a woman who was an Aurophobic. She could be holding out for platinum.
Almost every color has its own phobia, as does nearly every nationality. Bolshephobia, for instance, is fear of Bolsheviks.
Help! I think I’m catching phobophobia (fear of phobias).
Didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school. Some imaginative kid should have received an “A” for cooking up that one.
There’s even a fear of insanity. To that bedeviled soul I’d have to say, “No reason to fear that, buddy, you’re already there.”
There are two words for fear of taste (Geumaphobia and Geumophobia). Now would that be good taste or bad taste?
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. Sure. The sadistic psychiatrist who dreamed up that label was trying to keep his patient coming back forever. He’d probably start every session with, “So, Mortimer, how’s your Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia today?” and the hapless patient would dive behind the couch—trembling uncontrollably.
Logophobia is the fear of words. Now, where would you go to hide from those?
I wasn’t surprised to discover that there is a name for fear of thinking, Phronemophobia. That seems a pretty widespread malady to me.
Politicophobia is the fear or dislike of politicians. Come on, what exactly is abnormal about that?
This plethora of phobias has to be a product of our modern culture. Obviously we have too much free time to hang out and fuss about things. If we still had to hustle around and plow the fields and bake the bread and beat the clothes clean we’d be too tired at the end of the day to fret about such trifles.
I’m sure there was no time for this kind of nonsense in the days of cavepersons.
She says, “I think you’d better go hunting today, sugarplum. That boar you caught last week is getting a bit rank.”
“Oh, you know I can’t go out today, pumpkin. My Agrizoophobia (fear of wild animals) is worse than usual. Couldn’t we just eat some plants and berries?”
“Oh, Mighty Slayer, I couldn’t possibly do that. My Botanophobia (fear of plants) is making me crazy.”
Yes. I think these phobias are the result of our enlightened times. Anyway, I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with that fear of words (mentioned above) or I never would have stumbled on Zemmiphobia—fear of the Great Mole Rat.
Although I haven’t yet dug up a description of a Great Mole Rat, I did learn how to identify the Naked Mole Rat. “Picture a hot dog that’s been left in a microwave a little too long, add some buckteeth at one end, and you’ve got a fairly good idea of what a Naked Mole Rat looks like.”
Well, I don’t care whether it’s clothed or not. If I see any kind of a Mole Rat baring its buckteeth at me, I’m going to run for it. I guess that makes me a Zemmiphobic.
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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull