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Fears and Phobias in English

Overview

A phobia is an irrational fear of something that’s unlikely to cause harm. The word itself comes from the Greek word Phobos, which means fear or horror.

Hydrophobia, for example, literally translates to fear of water.

When someone has a phobia, they experience intense fear of a certain object or situation. Phobias are different than regular fears because they cause significant distress, possibly interfering with life at home, work, or school.

People with phobias actively avoid the phobic object or situation, or endure it within intense fear or anxiety.

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are very common. They’re estimated to affect more than 30 percent of U.S. adults at some time in their lives.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the American Psychiatric Association outlines several of the most common phobias.

Agoraphobia, a fear of places or situations that trigger fear or helplessness, is singled out as a particularly common fear with its own unique diagnosis. Social phobias, which are fears related to social situations, are also singled out with a unique diagnosis.

Specific phobias are a broad category of unique phobias related to specific objects and situations. Specific phobias affect an estimated 12.5 percent of American adults.

Phobias come in all shapes and sizes. Because there are an infinite number of objects and situations, the list of specific phobias is quite long.

According to the DSM, specific phobias typically fall within five general categories:

  • fears related to animals (spiders, dogs, insects)
  • fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness)
  • fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls)
  • fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, driving)
  • other (choking, loud noises, drowning)

These categories encompass an infinite number of specific objects and situations.

There’s no official list of phobias beyond what’s outlined in the DSM, so clinicians and researchers make up names for them as the need arises. This is typically done by combining a Greek (or sometimes Latin) prefix that describes the phobia with the -phobia suffix.

For example, a fear of water would be named by combining hydro (water) and phobia (fear).

There’s also such a thing as a fear of fears (phobophobia). This is actually more common than you might imagine.

People with anxiety disorders sometimes experience panic attacks when they’re in certain situations. These panic attacks can be so uncomfortable that people do everything they can to avoid them in the future.

 

For example, if you have a panic attack while sailing, you may fear sailing in the future, but you may also fear panic attacks or fear developing hydrophobia.

Common phobias list

Studying specific phobias is a complicated process. Most people don’t seek treatment for these conditions, so cases largely go unreported.

These phobias also vary based on cultural experiences, gender, and age.

A 1998 survey of more than 8,000 respondents published in the British Journal of PsychiatryTrusted Source found that some of the most common phobias include:

  • acrophobia, fear of heights
  • aerophobia, fear of flying
  • arachnophobia, fear of spiders
  • astraphobia, fear of thunder and lightning
  • autophobia, fear of being alone
  • claustrophobia, fear of confined or crowded spaces
  • hemophobia, fear of blood
  • hydrophobia, fear of water
  • ophidiophobia, fear of snakes
  • zoophobia, fear of animals

Unique phobias

Specific phobias tend to be incredibly specific. Some so much so that they may only affect a handful of people at a time.

These are difficult to identify because most people don’t report unusual fears to their doctors.

Examples of some of the more unusual phobias include:

  • alektorophobia, fear of chickens
  • onomatophobia, fear of names
  • pogonophobia, fear of beards
  • nephophobia, fear of clouds
  • cryophobia, fear of ice or cold

The sum of all fears so far

 

A

 

Achluophobia

Fear of darkness

Acrophobia

Fear of heights

Aerophobia

Fear of flying

Algophobia

Fear of pain

Alektorophobia

Fear of chickens

Agoraphobia

Fear of public spaces or crowds

Aichmophobia

Fear of needles or pointed objects

Amaxophobia

Fear of riding in a car

Androphobia

Fear of men

Anginophobia

Fear of angina or choking

Anthophobia

Fear of flowers

Anthropophobia

Fear of people or society

Aphenphosmphobia

Fear of being touched

Arachnophobia

Fear of spiders

Arithmophobia

Fear of numbers

Astraphobia

Fear of thunder and lightning

Ataxophobia

Fear of disorder or untidiness

Atelophobia

Fear of imperfection

Atychiphobia

Fear of failure

Autophobia

Fear of being alone

B

 

Bacteriophobia

Fear of bacteria

Barophobia

Fear of gravity

Bathmophobia

Fear of stairs or steep slopes

Batrachophobia

Fear of amphibians

Belonephobia

Fear of pins and needles

Bibliophobia

Fear of books

Botanophobia

Fear of plants

C

 

Cacophobia

Fear of ugliness

Catagelophobia

Fear of being ridiculed

Catoptrophobia

Fear of mirrors

Chionophobia

Fear of snow

Chromophobia

Fear of colors

Chronomentrophobia

Fear of clocks

Claustrophobia

Fear of confined spaces

Coulrophobia

Fear of clowns

Cyberphobia

Fear of computers

Cynophobia

Fear of dogs

D

 

Dendrophobia

Fear of trees

Dentophobia

Fear of dentists

Domatophobia

Fear of houses

Dystychiphobia

Fear of accidents

E

 

Ecophobia

Fear of the home

Elurophobia

Fear of cats

Entomophobia

Fear of insects

Ephebiphobia

Fear of teenagers

Equinophobia

Fear of horses

F, G

 

Gamophobia

Fear of marriage

Genuphobia

Fear of knees

Glossophobia

Fear of speaking in public

Gynophobia

Fear of women

H

 

Heliophobia

Fear of the sun

Hemophobia

Fear of blood

Herpetophobia

Fear of reptiles

Hydrophobia

Fear of water

Hypochondria

Fear of illness

I-K

 

Iatrophobia

Fear of doctors

Insectophobia

Fear of insects

Koinoniphobia

Fear of rooms full of people

L

 

Leukophobia

Fear of the color white

Lilapsophobia

Fear of tornadoes and hurricanes

Lockiophobia

Fear of childbirth

M

 

Mageirocophobia

Fear of cooking

Megalophobia

Fear of large things

Melanophobia

Fear of the color black

Microphobia

Fear of small things

Mysophobia

Fear of dirt and germs

N

 

Necrophobia

Fear of death or dead things

Noctiphobia

Fear of the night

Nosocomephobia

Fear of hospitals

Nyctophobia

Fear of the dark

O

 

Obesophobia

Fear of gaining weight

Octophobia

Fear of the figure 8

Ombrophobia

Fear of rain

Ophidiophobia

Fear of snakes

Ornithophobia

Fear of birds

P

 

Papyrophobia

Fear of paper

Pathophobia

Fear of disease

Pedophobia

Fear of children

Philophobia

Fear of love

Phobophobia

Fear of phobias

Podophobia

Fear of feet

Pogonophobia

Fear of beards

Porphyrophobia

Fear of the color purple

Pteridophobia

Fear of ferns

Pteromerhanophobia

Fear of flying

Pyrophobia

Fear of fire

Q-S

 

Samhainophobia

Fear of Halloween

Scolionophobia

Fear of school

Selenophobia

Fear of the moon

Sociophobia

Fear of social evaluation

Somniphobia

Fear of sleep

T

 

Tachophobia

Fear of speed

Technophobia

Fear of technology

Tonitrophobia

Fear of thunder

Trypanophobia

Fear of needles or injections

U-Z

 

Venustraphobia

Fear of beautiful women

Verminophobia

Fear of germs

Wiccaphobia

Fear of witches and witchcraft

Xenophobia

Fear of strangers or foreigners

Zoophobia

Fear of animals

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