Day 416: Fun with Phobias

Good morning, my dear readers!

I am finally getting around to a topic I’ve been considering for many months: Personal Phobias.

I’ve written about fear, many times before, because that’s a feeling that I — as a  card-carrying member of the human race — face every day. But I haven’t turned my attention to the term “phobia” yet, here in this blog.

So what is the definition of phobia, according to experts other than me? Let’s use for this one, shall we?  Here’s the first definition of phobia there:

: an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something

Hmmm.  I don’t think that really captures what a phobia is. Let’s go to the next entry at that site — the “full definition”:

:  an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation

I like that better because — as advertised — it’s fuller. That is, it includes those helpful modifiers “exaggerated,” “usually inexplicable,” and “illogical.”

Here are some other interesting facts, about the word “phobia,” from the Merriam Webster website.

Phobia Fact #1. This caught my attention because I  am interested in poetry:

Rhymes with PHOBIA

Have fun, limerick writers!

Phobia Fact #2.  Because I’ve just returned from a 6-day trip to Panama, I also noticed the Spanish translation of “phobia”:

Spanish Central Translation: “phobia”

This means (1) I knew more Spanish than I thought and (2) I could have gotten into more in-depth discussions with people in Panama.

Phobia Fact #3.   Now here’s a perhaps more useful and interesting fact about the word “phobia.” The first known use of the word “phobia” was in 1786.

The  Merriam Webster site doesn’t cite specifics about that first use, but I believe there WERE a lot of scary things going on around that time, especially if you were a member of certain economic classes.  However, I must confess that history was not my strong suit in school.

But now I’m curious about likely candidates for the first use of the word “phobia.” And Googling “1786 historical events” DOES reveal some interesting possibilities.

Here’s the full list of noteworthy  1786 events, according to

Feb 13th – Abraham Baldwin selected president of University of Georgia
Feb 24th – Charles Cornwallis appointed governor-general of India
May 1st – Mozart’s opera “Marriage of Figaro” premieres in Wien (Vienna)
Jun 8th – Commercially made ice cream 1st advertised (Mr Hall, NYC)
Jun 10th – A landslide dam on the Dadu River created by an earthquake ten days earlier collapses, killing 100,000 in the Sichuan province of China.
Jun 29th – Alexander Macdonell and over five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders leave Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.
Jul 29th – 1st newspaper published west of Alleghanies, Pitts Gazette
Aug 2nd – Utrechtse Vroedschap flees
Aug 8th – Congress adopts silver dollar & decimal system of money
Aug 8th – Jacques Balmat & Michel Paccard are 1st to climb to top of Mont Blanc
Aug 11th – Captain Francis Light establishes the British colony of Penang in Malaysia
Aug 29th – Shay’s Rebellion in Springfield, Mass
Sep 4th – -5] Orange troops plunder Hattem/Elburg
Sep 5th – Montplaisir Ceramic factory opens in Schaarbeek Belgium
Sep 11th – Annapolis Convention to determine interstate commerce
Sep 26th – Britain & France sign trade agreement
Oct 15th – Earliest 32°F (0°C) recorded temp in NYC
Oct 20th – Harvard University organizes 1st astronomical expedition in US
Nov 7th – The oldest musical organization in the United States is founded as the Stoughton Musical Society.
Nov 30th – Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, promulgates a penal reform making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty. November 30 is therefore commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day.
Dec 29th – French Revolution: The Assembly of Notables is convoked

Now, as you read that list, some of those events may seem inherently scarier to you than others.

Personally, the most obvious candidate for the first use of the word “phobia” is … the landslide.

Although, now that I think of it, a fear response to a landslide involving major loss of life is neither inexplicable or illogical, which is part of the full definition of phobia.  Being afraid of a natural disaster is a perfectly understandable fear.

Taking that into account, if I had been alive in 1786,  likely candidates for the First Use of the word Phobia might have been:

Figaro-phobia: The inexplicable fear of alienating your hairstylist and receiving a terrible haircut, especially  if s/he is prone to emotional or musical outbursts.

Ice-cream-ad-o-phobia: The inexplicable fear of consuming too much ice cream, especially after viewing marketing materials.

I see a couple of other likely candidates in that list, involving math and cold temperatures, but … I digress.

Yes, it’s true, my dear readers. This whole time-traveling section of this post has been … One Big Digression. What I really wanted to write about this morning were personal, inexplicable, exaggerated, and illogical fears I’m feeling …. IN THE PRESENT.  In case you haven’t noticed, my new (as of 1/1/14) subtitle for my “blog banner” is:

Here and now, with all of it.

So what are some personal phobias, I’ve been noticing, in the here and now?  Here’s a beginning list:

Neo-term-o-phobia: The fear of using the wrong word or phrase, especially related to new, unfamiliar systems or technologies, such as “subtitle for my blog banner.”

Ridicul-o-phobia (generalized): The fear of looking or otherwise seeming ridiculous.

Ridiculo-footwear-o-phobia: The fear of being ridiculed because of bad or foolish shoe choices.


Now, as regular readers of this blog may know, that photo has appeared before — in this blog post — when I revealed I had worn two different boots to work one day.  Regular readers may also know that I’ve been doing pretty well at letting go of THAT phobia.

Here’s more proof of my progress, in that area:


That photo is also an illustration of a cure for phobias, recommended by experts and wise people around the globe:

Embrace — and perhaps even enjoy — your fears.


Now, because I also have this phobia:

Procrast-o-phobia: the fear of being late for important things because of becoming too involved in other activities

… I need to start finishing this post.

Here are two more personal phobias:

Plumb-o-phobia:  the fear of having problems with pipes and other water-delivery and/or waste-removal systems, that may lead to (1) damaging overflows and (2) the need to call the plumber.

Don’t worry, dear readers. I’m not including any photos for THAT phobia. And I’m going to end this post with the phobia that originally inspired it:

Tax-o-phobia: the exaggerated, illogical, and inexplicable fear of anything related to the process of annual tax preparation, including official documents arriving in the mail after January 1.


Am I alone in these personal phobias, people?

Thanks to Mozart, my boyfriend Michael (for the blogging slippers), people in the past and the present who have dealt with fears or phobias of any kind, and — of course! — to you, for visiting today.

Categories: humor, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Day 416: Fun with Phobias

  1. Good post Ann, I specially like the one with walking out in two different kind of boots, that is really funny. And nothing happens.

  2. I think I have phobia envy, your phobia’s seem much more interesting than mine. Good old spiders & heights top my list. This post has got me thinking though, I will try to investigate my personal crazy to see if I can come up with better ones 🙂

    • I’ve definitely got the heights thing going on and I have an automatic response to certain bugs, too. Let us know about “your personal crazy” if you can (plus thanks for a great term!). Wonderful to see you here.

  3. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, Ann. Irrational or otherwise, I think the famous guy meant. In any case, the 1786 origin of phobia means that for an entire decade, new Americans couldn’t put a name to their needless, excessive fretting about independence.

  4. tee hee! Love this — I have the tax-phobia! oh and the procrast-o-phobia too! 🙂

  5. Not a phobia as much as just a general dislike – going to work.
    but I think the clinical term for that is just “laziness”…

  6. Oh man… phobias. I’m afraid of water. And of going blind. These don’t really hold me back from anything though… that would be more like my fear of struggling in front of people. I don’t want to do anything I know I’m not good at (a new machine at the gym, play volleyball, a math equation) if someone else is watching. That’s paralyzed me my whole life.

    • I can definitely relate to that fear of yours, which came into major play when I had my zip-lining adventure/disaster/Friggin-Opportunity-for-Growth a few days ago. Thanks, Aussa. Somehow, I feel less fearful knowing you’re out there!

  7. LOL! I definitely am feeling that same tax-o-phobia thing I get every year…
    I just never knew there was such a technically-scientific name for it. 😀

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  9. I think I suffer from Plumb-o-phobia. I’m very very frightened indeed of anything going wrong with the plumbing in my house, especially if it involves the toilet, because our ‘friendly’ local plumber ‘doesn’t do toilets’. He’s too posh to risk getting his hands dirty. I dread asking him to come and do any sort of work for me because he’s so grumpy, and the not-so-local plumbers charge big scary call-out fees. It would probably be more accurate to say I suffer from PlumbER-o-phobia. 😀

    • I definitely have Grumpy-Service-Person-o-phobia, Annabelle! Thanks for inspiring me to admit that, also. Great to see you, as always.

  10. I definitely have Ice-cream-ad-o-phobia, along with canned-foods-phobias, HFCS-phobia, and several other food-related phobias! The lists grows longer every day…

    • Whatever I’m eating or drinking, there’s something I’ve read that says it’s bad for me. No wonder we’re phobic about food! Thanks for the visit.

  11. I have an irrational fear of ending up in court on an unfair charge. I can waste hours inventing to dialogue to explain my innocence of some totally imagined petty misdemeanour. This would be quite useful for a writer – if I could only bear to write about injustice, which I can’t. I laugh when I catch myself at it, especially as the scenarios are so ridiculous. I have yet to find a full cure.

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