15 Oddly Specific Phobias That Will Make You Say “What?!”

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While fears of spiders and heights are common, there are some fears that might seem bizarre but are very much real and can cause significant distress to those affected. I took a look at some of the weirder, lesser-known phobias, and was reminded again, just how strange the human brain really is.

Phobophobia: Fear of Having a Phobia

phobia
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Phobophobia, the fear of phobias, can lead to pervasive anxiety about experiencing fear itself, detailed in a 1983 study from The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. This meta-phobia creates a vicious cycle of anxiety, where individuals fear the onset of another phobia or the physical symptoms of panic, such as palpitations or breathlessness.

Phonophobia: Fear of Sound

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Phonophobia entails an irrational fear of sounds—sounds that are a normal part of everyday life but perceived as threatening. This condition can overlap with hyperacusis, where there is an exaggerated, often painful response to sound, reflecting an intense sensory processing disorder.

Omphalophobia: Fear of Belly Buttons

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Omphalophobia involves a fear of belly buttons, with sufferers unable to even glance at a navel without feeling nauseous. As reported in the Daily Mail, one individual’s determination to overcome this phobia was crucial for her to continue her medical studies, employing cognitive behavioral therapy as a tool to combat her discomfort.

Ombrophobia: Fear of Rain

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Ombrophobia is categorized under “natural environment phobias,” a group that also includes fears of hurricanes, snow, cold, and wind. This phobia, as per recent studies, is sometimes more pronounced in individuals with a background in weather-related fields, who might understand more about the dangers severe weather can bring.

Chaetophobia: Fear of Hair

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Chaetophobia is an aversion to hair, whether it’s washing it, getting it cut, or even being around animals with fur, as noted in a 2022 TNNMC Journal of Mental Health Nursing article. This fear can significantly affect personal hygiene and social interactions, showing how debilitating phobias can be to everyday life.

Eisoptrophobia: Fear of Mirrors

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Eisoptrophobia involves a profound fear of mirrors, especially of seeing one’s own reflection. This phobia can be deeply distressing, potentially leading to depression, as shown in a 2014 case study. The individual in question, a 55-year-old woman, battled with this fear for over three decades and, as a result, struggled deeply with her mental health.

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of Long Words

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Ironically, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is a fear of long words. According to the BBC, this phobia often stems from early negative experiences related to difficult pronunciations and may be linked to conditions like dyslexia. The word itself, derived from Latin, humorously translates to a fear of a word one-and-a-half feet long, but for sufferers, the fear is all too real.

Taphophobia: Fear of Being Buried Alive

buried alive
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Taphophobia, the terror of being buried alive, has historical roots extending back to the 1700s when plague was prevalent and there was genuine fear of premature burial by mistake. To mitigate these fears, innovations like “safety coffins” were developed, allowing one to signal for help if alive. Additionally, bodies were often kept unburied for extended periods to ensure no mistakes were made about their demise.

Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of Peanut Butter Clinging

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Arachibutyrophobia is not about a fear of peanut butter itself but the anxiety induced by it sticking to the roof of the mouth. A 2008 “Food Bites” journal article explains that for those affected, the sticky texture triggers panic, leading them to avoid similar textured foods.

Myrmecophobia: Fear of Ants

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Myrmecophobia is an intense fear of ants, especially large numbers or swarms of ants. People can be uncomfortable enough around ants, or because they’re anticipating seeing ants, that they have intense psychological and physiological symptoms, including panic attacks.

Bananaphobia: The Fear of Bananas

bananas
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Bananaphobia might raise eyebrows, but it represents a real and paralyzing fear for some. Documented instances include a case highlighted by the Daily Mail, where a woman described an intense aversion to bananas, feeling sick even being in the same room with one. She reported significant improvement after engaging in psychotherapy sessions, so there’s clearly potential for overcoming even the most peculiar anxieties.

Alektorophobia: Fear of Chickens

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Alektorophobia, or fear of chickens, can manifest significantly in one’s daily life. One case from 2016 involved an 18-year-old woman who became anxious around chickens due to a childhood incident. This phobia affected her so deeply that she even felt anxiety when encountering chicken in meals at restaurants.

Vestiphobia: The Fear of Clothing

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Vestiphobia entails a fear of clothing, as documented in a 2011 case in the journal “Grand Rounds”. This condition might involve specific types of apparel or more general discomfort with anything that feels restricting. One notable instance involved a 21-year-old recruit who felt acute panic and physical discomfort when wearing his military gear, to the extent that he considered withdrawing from an ordinary social life to avoid the distress associated with these garments.

Globophobia: The Fear of Balloons

fear of balloons
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Globophobia, or the fear of balloons, is more than just a quirky trait. According to a 2013 “British Medical Journal” article, this phobia can manifest as an overwhelming dread at the sight, touch, or smell of balloons, with many sufferers particularly sensitive to the noise of balloons popping. This fear can significantly affect your ability to participate in social events where balloons are present.

Trypophobia: The Fear of Clustered Holes

clustered holes
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Trypophobia involves a deep-seated fear or aversion to closely packed patterns of holes. This phobia was highlighted in a 2018 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry, where a young girl experienced severe terror from everyday items such as aerated bread, Swiss cheese, and dotted or animal-print fabrics.

The young girl, who was typically well-adjusted and a good student, once ran frantically from a restroom that had walls with small, recurring openings.

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