Monday, February 26, 2007

The only thing we have to fear is…everything (i.e. Panophobia)

It’s out there. Whatever it is, whatever you’re afraid of, is out there. No matter what the phobia or fear. For some that means a life spent running in terror from musical instruments such as flutes, (otherwise known as Aulophobia.) Others feel the need to avoid learning anything or gaining knowledge, (Epistemophobia, which, by the amount of stupid people in this country, leads me to believe that this must be the most prevalent phobia in America.)

Do you have an idea of how many thousands of phobias there are out there? And, naturally, a lot of them are extremely goofy. Who discovers these things? Who was the first doctor to come across a patient with an unhealthy fear of long words? And why, upon learning of this problem, did he decide to name it Sesquipedalophobia* What kind of sense does that make? I guess, since antidisestablishmentarianism was taken already, the doctor had to use whatever left over letters were at hand. But still, talk about throwing salt in the wounds.

Doctor: So what did you say your problem was sir?

Patient: Hate long words. Scared of them. Too many letters. Me afraid.

Doctor: Afraid of long words eh? I know the perfect name for that! Sesquipedalophobia! Can you say it with me?

Patient: Ahhhhhhh!

I wonder what causes people to be afraid of such weird things. What goes on in peoples’ heads that would give them Theatrophobia, the fear of theaters? Past bad experiences? Perhaps the person suffering from this phobia, was, at one time, a promising up-and-coming stage actor until that fateful night when they were stabbed in the eye by a bouquet of flowers carelessly thrown on stage at the end of some performance. That’s about the only way I could see it going down.

Naturally, some phobias make good sense. I can see why some people have Thanatophobia, the fear of dying. Pretty obvious right? Same with Virginitiphobia, fear of rape. And Zeusophobia, fear of god, or gods, (after reading the Old Testament, I’m surprised more people don’t have this fear.) These are all good, clean, healthy fears. Not so much with Walloonphobia, fear of Walloons, (unless you live in Belgium I guess) or Xerophobia, fear of dryness. I bet people with Xerophobia go through a bottle of Jergens a day.

We all have fears and I’m not going to pretend that I’m any different. And strangely enough, I’ve got a couple of goofy phobias myself that have affected my life. One would assume that after spending two years in Iraq that I should have been afraid of being blown up, (or only partially blown up, which is much worse) or shot or something painful and bloody. Nope! Not the case, (although a little PTSD is evident I feel, which has led to Agoraphobia, the fear of large crowds or open areas. This is why I just sit in my dojo and drink instead of going out to clubs and whatnot.)

I’m going to share my phobias with you, because I think anybody reading about them will get a good laugh and maybe not feel so bad about their own irrational fears. Such as Barophobia, the fear of gravity. Man, that’s a stupid one!

After intense research and studying (i.e. five minutes of checking out this list of phobias I googled) I have yet to see names for the two main phobias that I have. Which is pretty weird considering just how specific some of these phobias are.

My first is a fear of large, open, deep bodies of water. Especially murky water that you can’t see and which can hold who knows what. Maybe I really just have a fear of sea serpents and other aquatic monsters, but that’s just silly. I love the water and am quite a proficient doggy-paddler. I can go out on rivers, lakes or oceans, but I prefer doing such things on large boats. My fear comes from going out in the water in small boats, or no boat at all. Perhaps in another life I had a torrid love affair with Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster which ended badly. I have no idea why I have this phobia, but it’s a pretty minor one and doesn’t come into play often.

My second fear is of live performances of any kind. The circus, theater, plays, stand-up comedy, (especially stand-up comedy) dinner theater (a la Medieval Times) concerts, public performances and even Saturday Night Live. For some reason I can never enjoy any of this stuff because I spend the whole time being worried about the people performing making mistakes. I guess I feel embarrassed for them. Really embarrassed and sad when they mess up. It’s not to the point where I run out of theaters, but I spend most of my time avoiding anything live.

The weirdest part of this is that I love to perform publicly. I love to speak in front of large crowds while improvising the whole thing. I don’t understand what odd twist of fate gives me the ability to do the things I’m scared of seeing. Such is the dichotomy that is my paradoxical existence.

I would love to just type out this list I found of phobias, because they are hilarious and a bit frightening. Sadly I don’t have the space, so I guess I’ll just hook it up with the link. ( Check it out. Then ask yourself:

What are you scared of?

*Oddly enough, I saw that there are two words for this phobia. What’s the other word? Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Which is even longer, and I’m sure even more painful than the other phobia name. What a cruel trick to play.

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