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Slices of Life

Got Fear?

March 3, 2010
Dysart Reporter


Jill Pertler

We have much to fear. War. Disease. Death. Peanut butter on the roof of our mouth. Or, to put it another way: traumatophobia, panthophobia, thantophobia and arachibutyrophobia. It seems there's a phobia for everything and everyone, even the poor soul who's afraid of sticky peanut butter.

Most of us are familiar with some of the common phobias: claustrophobia is a fear of closed spaces, agoraphobia a fear of people or crowds; acrophobia is a fear of heights. We've heard of these. But how about ataxophobia and atelophobia? They represent fear of disorder and imperfection. Their good friend is amathophobia fear of dust. If you have any of these, I would advise staying far away from my house where imperfection is the norm, disorder is the order and dust bunnies run rampant. Like fear of war, disease and death, there are some phobias that are easy to understand. Lophobia (fear of poison) and hadephobia (fear of hell), are terms most of us can relate to. But how about fear of otters (lutraphobia)? Otters are such happy animals. What's to fear, a slap from their flat little tails? People who experience kyphophobia fear stooping. How random is that? I haven't had the need to stoop for weeks now.

I assume people with this phobia suffer from bad knees, sore ankles or maybe plumber's pants that make stooping uncomfortable or even an embarrassment. Helminthophobics fear being infested by worms. Worm infestation is definitely not on my top ten to-do list. No one wants their innards filled with worms even when one is six-feet-under. Yes, worm infestation is unpleasant business and something we all can fear. Here's one of my favorites: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Are you ready? Fear of long words. I need say no more on this one. Love it. A person with amnesiphobia fears amnesia. How illogical is that? If a person did get amnesia, then they wouldn't remember that they had amnesiphobia anyway. So, in essence their phobia is a fear of not being able to remember their fear. Then there's antiophobia fear of floods. Especially hard-hitting, if your name is Noah. Cryphobia a fear of extreme cold, ice or frost can be detrimental to hockey moms. I work to avoid cryphobia at all costs by spending six months of the year in close proximity to my long johns and snow pants.

Some phobia names teach us about language. Frigophobia, a fear of cold things, is obviously the origin of the phrase, "It's friggin' cold in here." Frigophobics and cryphobics often hang out together in saunas and other warm places. Ablutophobia is a fear of washing or bathing, and goes a long way to explain the behavior of my little boys. I thought they avoided baths because they wanted to spend more time playing. Turns out their behavior stems from fear and is in need of a label. I guess this makes me a deficient mother, however there is no phobic term for fear of being a deficient mother. Interesting. Fear not, my children mommy's here, and it's bath time! Has anyone heard of walloonphobia? I'm pretty sure I don't have it, because before I wrote this article I didn't even know that a Walloon spoke French. In fact, I believe I can say I've never met a Walloon I didn't like. No discussion of phobias would be complete without the all-encompassing term to beat all terms: panophobia means fear of everything. You can't get any more phobic than that. My research into phobias made me think of a few of my own. Celltextophobia is fear of your cell phone bill something 90 percent of parents of teenagers experience each month. Keepupwidujonesaphobia describes the fear that the neighbors will get a fancy new car.

A person who fears minivans suffers from dontwanttogrowupaphobia. A fear of Santa is nohohoaphobia. Fear of disco: strobiaphobia, while fear of cutting the grass is mowbiaphobia. And, someone who fears infidelity? A tigerbythetailaphobic. I could go on and on. (You know I could.) That's because I don't have any of the big three: graphophobia (fear of writing), logophobia (fear of words) or grammatophobia (fear of grammar). Franklin D. Roosevelt gave us a famous quote about fear. He said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Which, I guess means that we should fear our own phobias. Is there a phobia about phobias? Of course there is. We call it phobophobia. I'm not making that up.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at or e-mail Jill at



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