It’s difficult to label any phobia as the “strangest” because most phobias are considered kooky, weird or downright bizarre. Phobias are also nearly impossible to understand with the logical mind – they just don’t seem to make sense! However, for those experiencing a true phobia, logic doesn’t make one bit of difference. The terror is still alive and well.
On the other hand, it is easy to identify 15 phobias that exist outside the realm of the more common phobias, or those most people have heard about, such as arachnophobia, the fear of spiders; acrophobia, the fear of heights; or even coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, to name just a few.
So without further ado, here is a list of 15 strange and surprising phobias that are all entirely real!
Strange Phobia #1: Emetophobia – The Fear of Vomiting
Nobody enjoys vomiting. Food and drink sources are meant to travel in a downward direction and not against the pull of gravity. However, those with emetophobia don’t simply become disgusted when they vomit or see someone else vomit, they become terrified! Those with emetophobia are so utterly aghast when vomit of any kind is encountered (or mentioned) that they will actively avoid social situations in which there is the possibility that someone could vomit.
Obviously, this can greatly affect an emetophobiac’s day-to-day happiness, but thankfully, treatments are available. For example, emetophobiacs are often successfully treated with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Strange Phobia #2: Aurophobia – The Fear of Finding Gold
If you thought all phobias were related to events or things that are normally perceived as negative, you can think again. Most people would consider themselves fortunate to stumble upon a pile of gold, but aurophobiacs live in terror of finding bright shiny riches of the gold variety.
Why are they terrified? Who knows! Perhaps they’re afraid of the Midas Touch or maybe they fear their world would go topsy-turvy if their bank account increased exponentially. After all, riches, fame and notoriety are not for everyone!
Aurophobia in many cases is successfully treated with exposure therapy or with one or more antidepressants.
Strange Phobia #3: Papyrophobia – The Fear of Paper
Paper may seem harmless enough but those with papyrophobia see paper and run! Papyrophobiacs are afraid of seeing, touching or getting cut by paper. Even writing on it rapidly brings terror to a papyrophobiac’s heart. Uncontrolled breathing and panic attacks can also be counted among the symptoms of this phobia.
Papyrophobia is often effectively treated with therapy (of various sorts depending on the judgment of the therapist) and support groups.
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Strange Phobia #4: Omphalophobia – The Fear of Belly Buttons
If you’re one of those people who can’t wait to bare your navel when summer comes around, this phobia will probably seem unbelievable. Omphalophobiacs are not only afraid of the belly buttons of others but of their own as well. They will make sure to wear a one-piece swimsuit (for the ladies) or swim trunks that cover the belly button (for the gentlemen) when they go to the pool. It’s also unlikely that these folks will take up belly dancing, work as swimsuit models or play beach volleyball unless they receive the proper treatment.
Treatments that have proven successful in the past for omphalophobiacs include hypnotherapy, psychotherapy or cognitive behavior therapy.
Strange Phobia #5: Venustraphobia – The Fear of Beautiful Women
If you’re a beautiful woman you’re probably unwittingly terrifying someone who suffers from venustraphobia. This phobia is no joke! Those who suffer from it are intimidated or even traumatized by female beauty. Interestingly enough, most venustraphobiacs are men, but women are subject to this condition as well. Venustraphobiacs will steer clear of situations in which they believe they may encounter women who are beautiful.
A number of therapies can help sufferers overcome their fear of female beauty, including hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and/or energy therapy.
Strange Phobia #6: Arachibutyrophobia – The Fear of Peanut Butter Sticking to the Roof of One’s Mouth
A high percentage of Americans love eating peanut butter! It’s one of the most popular and most spreadable food staples in the U.S. and is found on many people’s favorite foods list. However, for an arachibutyrophobiac, the thought of having peanut butter stuck to the roof of his or her mouth precludes any desire to actually eat it. Whether it’s creamy or crunchy, arachibutyrophobiacs will jump when peanut butter enters the room!
Arachibutyrophobia can be successfully treated with behavior therapy, anti-anxiety medication, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Strange Phobia #7: Ergophobia – The Fear of Work
It’s understandable. It’s comprehensible. Most of us find it difficult at times to stay on task and none of us are 100 percent convinced that we love Mondays. After all, we know we’re facing presentations, tasks, meetings, projects, etc. However, for ergophobiacs, the fear of work extends far beyond the Sunday night jitters. Ergophobiacs are literally terrified not only of work environments, but of the thought of work itself. Ergophobiacs are often judged as lazy or irresponsible, but nothing could be further from the truth because what they are actually suffering from is an intense amount of fear. It is also worth noting that this phobia is often accompanied with the fear of failing.
Ergophobiacs have been successfully treated with behavioral-cognitive therapy, desensitization therapy and/or a variety of appropriate medications.
Strange Phobia #8: Somniphobia – The Fear of Falling Asleep
Most of us live for that one or two days a week when we can sleep more than usual…ideally without the need for an alarm clock! However, those with somniphobia, also known as hypnophobia, don’t look at sleep like the rest of us. To them, sleep is something to be feared and avoided whenever possible, which of course, is impossible! These individuals will lay awake terrified of that moment of letting go and slipping into a sub-conscious state.
It’s obvious that for somniphobiacs’ general and overall health, it is essential that they seek effective treatment. Many somniphobiacs have been successfully treated with one or more of the following:
- Therapy (various types available)
Strange Phobia #9: Gephyrophobia – The Fear of Crossing Bridges
Many of us experience some level of fear when we cross a tall, rickety bridge or a bridge over water. In the end, however, most of us are able to take a deep breath and cross the bridge without harm. But to gephyrophobiacs, crossing a bridge is unthinkable! Doing so may induce panic attacks, difficulty breathing, cold sweats and many other undesirable symptoms. However, gephyrophobiacs can often be successfully treated with the following:
- Cognitive therapy
- Desensitization therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Facing the fear with the aid of a trusted friend (i.e., crossing the bridge despite the phobia)
Strange Phobia #10: Anthropophobia – The Fear of People
Chances are high that you’ve heard of someone or know of someone who has experienced social anxiety. Social anxiety isn’t easy to live with but living with anthropophobia is even more difficult! Anthropophobia is the fear of people, but can also refer to the fear of having expected or unexpected company. Most of us look forward to a friend coming to visit or to a family party but for anthropophobiacs, the most important thing is to keep people at bay. They will go to great lengths to avoid social engagements because they have a real terror associated with not being able to control what happens when other people are nearby. Luckily, anthropophobia is treatable. Successful treatments may include Morita therapy, which begins with the acceptance of the phobia, and/or with talk therapy.
Strange Phobia #11: Deipnophobia – The Fear of Dinner Parties and Dining
Many magazines, movies and television series portray the sophistication and enjoyment often associated with dining and dinner conversation. Many people love to take part in these opportunities and find them stimulating and enjoyable. However, attending dinner parties and dining aren’t the preference of everyone – especially not deipnophobiacs. Those who experience deipnophobia have come to associate dining, dinner parties and dinner conversation with a feeling of terror and with being out of control. Symptoms of deipnophobia can include feelings of panic, terror and dread.
Deipnophobia can be treated with behavior therapy, anti-anxiety medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and even exposure therapy.
Strange Phobia #12: Soteriophobia – The Fear of Becoming Dependent
There’s something empowering about being able to tackle any challenge that comes your way. If you always have to depend on others, life can feel scary. It’s unnerving, for example, to think that you may not have all the qualities or skills required to conquer a challenge. But in reality, none of us can do everything ourselves, so it’s wise to learn some amount of healthy dependency. For those with soteriophobia, however, learning dependence is out of the question and a problem that stays on their minds. Soteriophobia can be experienced by those who have found it extremely difficult to trust other people or by those who are terrified of being tied to someone with an agenda.
Soteriophobia can thankfully be treated with hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming or occasionally with medication.
Strange Phobia #13: Gamophobia -- The Fear of Getting Married
Though wedded bliss is the dream and aspiration of many, the fear of getting married is very real for others. There are those who simply can’t imagine a worse fate than walking down the aisle and staring at their future spouse eye to eye! Perhaps the idea of marriage triggers deep fears of dependence or a lack of freedom in gamophobiacs. To some people who love getting or being married, this phobia might seem like an excuse. But the fear of marriage is a valid experience and should be treated as such.
Gamophobia has been successfully treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, family therapy and/or medications when appropriate.
Strange Phobia #14: Papaphobia – The Fear of the Pope
As harmless as the Pope may seem, his presence in Rome – or anywhere for that matter – is quite terrifying to those with papaphobia. Those who suffer from this seemingly bizarre condition can generally acknowledge secular leadership and authority, but they are terrified of the Catholics’ world leader in white garb! Papaphobiacs have also been known to be terrified of saints, typically of the Catholic tradition. Suffice it to say, it’s rare that you will find someone with papaphobia walking or driving to a Catholic church, even if it’s for a holiday or a funeral. You can invite them, but they’ll make a quick break for the door! Also, it’s interesting to note that papaphobiacs may not even consider reading a Pope’s discourse or a quote from the man himself – they are just that terrified! The condition seems bizarre, but as the saying goes…truth is often stranger than fiction.
Like many other phobias papaphobia can be treated with behavior therapy, anti-anxiety medication, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and/or exposure therapy.
Strange Phobia #15: Ornithophobia – The Fear of Birds
Alfred Hitchcock tapped into the essence of this phobia with his famous (and infamous) film “The Birds.” The fear of birds, especially pigeons, may seem like a laughing matter, but when you consider that some theories regarding the origin of birds name these flying creatures as distant relatives of the dinosaurs, then it’s a bit easier to comprehend why someone might be terrified!
Ornithophobia may be treated effectively with cognitive-behavioral therapy, visualization techniques, relaxation techniques and/or medications when appropriate.
MasterControl may not be able to treat all the phobias of the world, but when it comes to getting rid of inefficient hard-copy paper processes (often frightening in their own right) in highly regulated environments, MasterControl is the king of kings and the queen of queens!
Notes regarding this article:
1) Though this article is presented in a somewhat light-hearted manner, MasterControl recognizes the real seriousness of all of the phobias listed in this article.
2) The information presented in this article was found at the following URL locations:
Marci Crane is MasterControl’s Localization Manager and is a marketing communications specialist. In her spare time Marci enjoys eating peanut butter…not running from it!