9 Unusual Phobias That People Really Have

The HealthCentral Editorial Team | Aug 28, 2012

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What are YOU afraid of?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “…we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” For many people, however, there are many other things to fear, some of them seemingly strange or unusual to other people who don’t fear them. Here is a list of nine things that enough people are frightened of that experts have classified them as bonafide phobias. What’s on your list?

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Aphenphosmphobia is the fear of being touched or of touching. For some people who have this phobia, the fear of touching or being touched is linked specifically to people of the opposite sex. In women, this fear is often linked to having experienced a sexual assault. Many boys who have been the victim of sexual abuse also report having this phobia.

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Cacophobia is an overwhelming and irrational fear of ugliness. A person who suffers from this phobia is not just afraid of ugly people – they also fear any object or situation they perceive as ugly. Experts aren’t sure what triggers this phobia, though as with all phobias, it is likely caused by some traumatic event that the sufferer has come to associate with ugliness.

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People who have novercaphobia are afraid of their own stepmothers, whether as a result from a traumatic event with a stepmother or because of negative associations with any woman in this role. Children’s fairy tales have not helped the image of stepmothers, experts say, since these tales often portray stepmothers as cruel, punishing, witch-like, or even murderous!

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People who have vestiophobia have an irrational fear of clothing or of being clothed. This fear is so intense and overwhelming that sufferers will sometimes wear loose, oversized clothing in an effort to keep it off their skin. In extreme cases, they may withdraw completely from society so that they can remain unclothed.

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If you’re a person who has an overwhelming fear of the moon, you suffer from the phobia known as selenophobia. Selenophobes also fear that the moon will trigger irrational or dangerous behaviors in other people. Selenophobia may be another phobia triggered by stories many of us heard when we were young, tale of nights with full moons that were filled with witchcraft, werewolves, and other supernatural happenings.

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Though it may sound like a joke, hippopotomon-


phobia is the fear of long words! The word comes from a combination of the words sesquipedalian (which means “a foot and a half long”), monstrum (“monster”), and a misspelled form of hippopotamus. The combination is intended to make the word very, very long to better describe the phobia.

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Pteronophobia is the overwhelming fear of feathers or of being tickled by a feather. Though this phobia may be caused by unpleasant experiences with feathers, it can also just be an irrational fear with no known triggering event.

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Fear of clowns, or coulrophobia, is one of the more common of the “unusual” phobias. Psychologists say this phobia may stem from children’s tendency to react strongly to a figure that has a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face. The term coulrophobia is actually only recently coined (in the 1980s), and experts say it is used more on the Internet than in printed form.

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People who suffer from more than one of the fears in this slideshow–along with many others–may actually have panophobia, which is the fear of everything. Panophobia is described as a vague, nonspecific and yet overwhelming kind of anxiety. Some describe it as a fear of “persistent evil,” as though something terrible is always about to happen.