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Common and Not So Common Phobias

Updated on November 29, 2011

A phobia is an irrational fear of something that poses little or no real threat. Classified as an anxiety disorder, phobias affect anywhere from 7% to 13% of the population. Of course, many people go undiagnosed and the percentage of people living with a phobia is most likely much higher than that. The word phobia comes from the Greek word "Phóbos" meaning morbid fear.

Some phobias are more common than others. We have all met a person in a time of our lives who is afraid to get on an airplane or elevator. Other times we may come across with someone with a fear that is a bit over the top. I once knew a girl who had attended a birthday party for her nephew. Her brother had hired a clown for the the party. My friend had to leave the room until the clown was gone. She was twenty-seven at the time. She's now in her late thirties and recently admitted to me that she still is afraid of clowns. There is a name for this. It's called coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

Phobias are classified into three groups:

  1. Social phobias: Examples of this type of phobia includes social situations, public riddicule and being judged by other people.
  2. Specific phobias: Fear of something specific such as animals, water, heights and flying.
  3. Agoraphobia: Many assume agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces or leaving the home. This is misleading and only half right. Agoraphobics are actually afraid of panic attacks and avoid situations that may cause distress and anxiety for them.

People living with phobias go to great lengths to avoid their object of fear. Some phobias don't affect a person's life very much. A person who lives in Alaska who has a fear of snakes wouldn't have to deal with panic attacks or running into a boa constrictor while taking a walk. However, someone who is afraid of heights or elevators may have to decline a great paying job because it's located on the 36th floor of a building. Likewise, people afraid of driving and open spaces have difficult lives because their phobia affect them on a daily basis.

Causes of phobias may vary. Sometimes a situation or trauma can lead to irrational fears. Other times it's in a person's genetic makeup. If phobias are affecting a person's daily life, therapy is available and can greatly help a person overcome their phobia.


Some of the Most Common Phobias

Acrophobia: Fear of heights

Aerophobia: Fear of flying

Agoraphobia: Intense fear and avoidance of situations that may bring on feeling of anxiety or panic.

Ailurophobia: Fear of cats

Arachnaphobia: Fear of spiders

Brontophobia: Fear of thunder and lightning. Common in children.

Carcinophobia: Fear of cancer

Claustraphobia: Fear of closed spaces

Cynophobia: Fear of dogs

Glossophobia (also known as speech anxiety): Fear of public speaking

Hydrophobia: Fear of water (i.e., swimming, being in a boat or even sitting in a bathtub)

Mysophobia (also knowns as germaphobia): Fear of germs

Necrophobia: Fear of death

Nosophobia: Fear of contracting a disease

Nyctophobia: Fear of the dark. Common in children.

Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes

Xenophobia: Fear of foreigners or strangers.


Unusual Phobias

Anthrophobia: Fear of flowers

Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one's mouth

Cataptrophobia: Fear of mirrors

Chionophobia: Fear of snow

Chronomentrophobia: Fear of time

Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns

Ergasiophobia: Fear of work

Kinemortophobia: Fear of zombies or 'the undead'

Panophobia: Fear of everything

Paraskavedekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th

Phobiaphobia: Fear of having a phobia

Taphophobia: Fear of being buried alive

What are you afraid of?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Unralapleled accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undeniable importance!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Chicago IL

      I gotta admit, we used to tease my friend a bit about her phobia. I'm just surprised that there's a lot of people out there who have coulrophobia. Maybe it's all those old killer clown movies we all watched as kids. Lol! Thanks for commenting!

    • shesacraftymom profile image


      6 years ago

      I always think Coulrophobia is a funny one - I guess I can see how clowns can be scary and creepy, though. I know a couple people with this. :)

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Chicago IL


      Thanks for commenting! There's actually a lot more phobias out there than the ones listed here. I'm glad you found this interesting. I am also afraid of public speaking. As much as I dislike clowns, they don't scare me :)

      Hi Jayleen, yes those phobias are extremely common. You're not alone. Thanks for dropping by!

    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Hahaha, yep the fear of peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth is a real one. I think it's hilarious. Thanks for commenting Rita! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Is there seriously a fear of peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth? That's crazy! Great article Amy! As usual..

    • Jayleenblogs profile image


      6 years ago from Every day is a new beginning

      I didn't know that my two phobias actually had names: brontophobia (lightning) and ophidiophobia (snakes). Very interesting.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello Amy:

      interesting hub which I voted up as well as interesting. I didn't realize that there were so many phobias. No wonder a portion of people are taking anti-anxiety drugs to overcome their phobias. I for one do not feel comfortable with public speaking, I think this is my biggest problem since I was a kid. However I am not afraid to speak up when there's a clown around me-I usually tell them to get lost, especially if they're not real funny. Take care. ):


    • amymarie_5 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Thank you Jon! I appreciate you reading and voting up and interesting!

    • JonHar88 profile image


      6 years ago from RIVERSIDE

      Good Article! Voted Up and Interesting.


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