Are you afraid of the dark? You might have a case of nyctophobia on your hands, but it’s pretty easy to see why our brains evolved to tell us how unsafe it is to walk into the great unknown of the night without a decent light source. Some phobias, however, are a bit more specific, and a lot more difficult to explain.
Claustrophobia (tight spaces), acrophobia (heights), and even arachnophobia (spiders!) have all had their time in the spotlight, but there are plenty of weirder fears to go around. Do you have any of the less-than-ordinary phobias on this list?
the fear of irregular patterns or clusters of tiny holes or bumps
Even if it hasn’t qualified as an official mental disorder, trypophobia still has lots of people feeling all kinds of icky. The most common symptoms for sufferers are feelings of itchiness, sever nausea, and general unease at the sight (or even thought) of a group of small holes or bumps.
Researchers theorize that some people have a biologic revulsion to trypophobic imagery that they may associate with danger or disease – aka, it might be an evolutionary response that helped our ancestors steer clear of sticky situations.
Photos of honeycombs might seem innocuous enough to low-level sufferers, but the video of baby frogs emerging from their parent’s back skin seems to get a lot more intense and visceral reactions. Not sure where you fall? Test yourself.
the fear of the navel
People who suffer from omphalophobia have a deep fear of belly buttons; their own, other people’s, or both. They often can’t stand touching their navel or having someone else touch it, and some people are even distraught and disgusted at the mere sight of a belly button. Are you also having weird, bad thoughts about your belly button just from reading this? Feeling a little queasy around your middle? Ready to add ‘omphalophobic’ to your Instagram bio yet?
the fear of youth
Or more accurately, fear of the youth. Ephebiphobia originally meant ‘the feat or loathing of teenagers’, but is today used to describe ‘the inaccurate, exaggerated and sensational characterization of young people’. This often ties in with adults fearful of street culture, slang and language that they can’t understand, and the exuberance of young people more willing to stray from the moral guidelines that were followed by the generations before. That guy yelling ‘you kids get off my lawn!’ might be more serious – and terrified – than you think.
the fear of being without your cellphone or cell reception
Phobias are often defined as irrational fears, but we feel like this one has a little more weight to throw around. It’s certainly not an unlikely scenario that you might end up in a place that doesn’t have cell towers wrapped all around it, and probably even more likely that you’ll misplace, damage, or destroy your phone at some point. So although the particular situation isn’t necessarily avoidable, the phobia itself probably says more about our addiction to our devices than any real danger.
In one 2008 study, researchers found that 53% of cell phone users felt anxiety about not being able to use their phones. If that was back at the beginning of the iPhone era, we can only imagine how much worse things have gotten more than a decade later. We’re betting this is the most #relatable phobia on the list.
the fear of the Pope
Now we’re getting somewhere weird. Fear of the big guy in the Vatican seems pretty out there, but it’s often tied up in some other, broader fears. Papaphobia sufferers can also suffer from Hierophobia, the fear of holy people and sacred things; Ecclesiaphobia, the fear of the church, organized religion, or holy people; or Hagiophobia, the fear of saints or holy things. We’re not exactly sure how to tackle this one, but maybe don’t plan any trips to the Vatican anytime soon?
the fear of beards
We’re going to peg this one on the pirates. Just kidding, unless? The overwhelming fear or dislike of beards often stems from unfair stereotypes of the people bearing them, as associated with certain religious or cultural customs. There may also be ideas about beards and their lack of cleanliness that triggers phobia in the germ-conscious among us, even if their fears are unfounded.
the fear of Friday the 13th
This one keeps #spookyszn around all year long, as you never know when one unlucky Friday is going to pop up and ruin your weekend (okay you definitely can know, we get it, calendars). Not sure how to help with this one, other than suggesting you avoid walking under any ladders or breaking any mirrors when this unlucky day rolls around, especially if you’re the superstitious type (or even a little stitious).