According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 10% of the adult population is afflicted with phobias. Defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something, phobias can cause symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and breathlessness. In extreme cases, phobias can lead to a full blown panic attack. For most of us, though, these are simply things or situations which we tend to avoid – until we’re confronted with them, say, in a haunted house…
In no particular order, here are ten common phobias, or things that go bump in the night:
Mysophobia. Defined as a pathological fear of contamination or germs, this was a condition said to have plagued reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes in the later years of his life. Rumor had it that even his daily newspaper came wrapped in an outer layer of newspaper. Imagine Howard’s reaction to a plague-infested zombie, reaching out with raw, flesh-rotted fingers…
Trypanophobia. Fear of needles is not uncommon. Most of us don’t like injections. So think about being chased by a bloodied, undead, zombie nurse with a very large, very dirty syringe!
Cynophobia. Many people are afraid of dogs. Some people are so afflicted that they’re even afraid of cute little puppies. Everybody’s afraid of the large, horrific, wolf-like mutant canines that stalk the halls of the Cutting Edge!
Coulrophobia. Originally intended to entertain children, clowns unfortunately often have the opposite effect on the youngest members of the population, causing childhood traumas that lead to a lifelong fear of these oddly-painted, freakish beings.
Agoraphobia. Often thought to be a fear of public places, agoraphobia is also a fear of being trapped, of being unable to escape, being suffocated by crowds and unable to break free. Imagine being surrounded by a crowd of evil clowns!
Ophidiophobia. From the Greek word, “ophis,” or snake, this is a phobia common to many people in varying degrees. There’s just something about the way a snake slithers around your ankles that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. And knowing that things are slithering around in the dark where you can’t see them, well that’s just creepy!
Acrophobia. Fear of heights, it has been suggested, may be simply an early adaptation to a world in which falling posed a significant danger to early humans. Fear of falling and fear of loud noises are two very common inborn fears. Watch your step at the Cutting Edge!
Astraphobia. As with the fear of falling, fear of loud noises is completely natural, so fear of thunder is not terribly unusual. Combine it with the fear of electric shock from a lightning strike, and you have a very powerful combination!
Arachnophobia. Although spiders are very helpful creatures that eat other, more pestiferous insects, and only a small percentage of spiders are poisonous, there’s just something, well, creepy about them. Maybe it’s their ability to drop down from the ceiling unexpectedly, or to jump out from a dark corner. . Creepy crawlers abound in the Cutting Edge!
Fear of the Unknown. While not technically a phobia, fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest fear known to man. Fear of the unknown can be positively paralyzing, because without knowing what is ahead of us, we tend to conjure up the worst. No Hollywood special effects artist, computer graphics generator or movie studio is capable of producing a more powerful image than what we create in our own minds. Perhaps the most terrifying movie scenes ever filmed are those that merely suggest a horrific scenario, and leave the rest to our imagination.
Even though we know – or think we know – that no one has ever been killed, or maimed, or infected in a haunted house – that’s been documented, anyway, we aren’t quite sure. After all, there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?