In Greek mythology, Deimos and Phobos were the gods of fear, or fear personified. Deimos represented creeping terror and dread (think the part of the horror movie when you realize you’re trapped in the house with a killer), and Phobos represented panic (the part of the horror movie where you’ve seen one friend killed and start to run).
And while fear has been around since the beginning, it wasn’t until around the 1700s that English speakers started adding “phobia” onto the end of nouns to mean “the fear of.”
Phobias are generally broken down into 3 categories. First, specific or simple phobias are the most common and are triggered by specific objects like spiders. Second, there are Agoraphobia phobias, which center the fear around being in a situation with no easy escape without embarrassment, like having a panic attack when you’re stuck in an airplane (been there, no shame) . The third type is Social phobia which can cause extreme anxiety in public or social situations and can lead to low self-esteem. This third type can cause many social issues such as dropping out of school and being unable to make friends.
Are you ready to see what some people are strangely petrified of? Here are the 25 Strangest Phobias You Could Have.
While personal hygiene may be something we joke about, some people have a fear of getting clean or bathing. Some people literally have panic attacks when faced with taking a shower or bath, and this leads to loneliness, isolation, and depression. So you know, maybe be kind to that coworker who always smells, they could be fighting a hidden battle. The word’s root word is Latin, with abluto meaning “a washing.”
A form of social anexity, ergophobia is from the Greek word ergo, which means “work.” This includes physical and non-physical work, so a cubicle farm could be as terrifying as say a landscaping job. Ergophobia is usually the result of some kind of trauma earlier in life. Luckily, it can be treated by a combination of therapy and medications to reduce anxiety. This is possibly one of the most frustrating phobias for those who don’t have it, as it’s often seen as laziness.
Perhaps the most widely relevant phobia (at least if you’ve been on the internet lately) is allodoxaphobia, which is the fear of opinions. Considered a social phobia, it’s derived from the Greek words for opinion (dox) and different (allo).
Although butterflies in the stomach are often associated with love, for someone with philophobia those butterflies are more like deadly scorpions as they are petrified of falling in love or having any close relationships. Unfortunately, many people in this category end up living a life of solitude. It’s suspected Elizabeth I suffered from this. From the Greek word philia, which means “Brotherly Love” but can also be translated as friendship or affection. (This is why Philadelphia is the city of Brotherly Love.)
Also known as hypnophobia, this is the abnormal fear of falling asleep or sleeping. Oftentimes, it can be the result of people feeling as though they are losing control. Nightmares have also been known to be the basis for this fear. The word comes from somini, the Latin word for sleep. Medications can be taken to help with sleep and anxiety around sleep, but these only address the symptoms. Counseling may be needed to address the root fear.