Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Secret fears

People don't usually talk about their phobias. They're too embarrassing and peculiar. They're kept firmly under personal lock and key.

I don't think I have any phobias, or not in the sense of things that physically and emotionally I simply can't deal with. There are plenty of things that disturb me and scare me, like cockroaches, confined spaces, darkness, dreams*, maggots and cellars, but I can handle them. I would just rather not experience them.

But no wonder people don't want to admit their phobias when they're unhinged by such seemingly ordinary objects as cuddly toys, buttons, cupcakes and taps. How can you explain such an odd aversion? How can you prevent the inevitable raised eyebrows and stifled giggles?

A fear of flying or injections is normal enough, but a fear of cuddly toys? How can something so innocent become frightening and weird?

I do admire those people with phobias over very common everyday situations - a fear of lifts, socialising, making speeches or eating in public - who find ways to overcome those phobias and stop them limiting their lives. We don't know what hell they go through simply trying to calm themselves and act normally, struggling against the panic and horror that threatens to overwhelm them.

Many a public figure who seems effortlessly confident and poised is secretly fighting inner demons that dog them at the most crucial moments.

Come to think of it, I suppose my aversion to too much attention is a kind of phobia, though I don't know if there's a word for it (spectophobia?). Presumably there's a corresponding fear of invisibility, or not being noticed at all.

Which might explain all those desperate fame-seekers.

* Practically all my dreams are nightmares. What goes on in this tangled brain?


  1. Hypothermia is my only fear. By the time I realise that I am cold, it is a problem.

    I wish I could sleep long enough to dream!

  2. Phobias are very weird animals, and are in extreme form tied in to other disorders. I admit that I have a horrendously incapacitating phobia, have had it since I was very little. It practically runs my life, at times. It's the one thing I'd never blog about...you're right about the difference between a fear and a full-blown phobia.

  3. I have a terror of hornets [understandable] - if I see or hear one my knees go to jelly and I throw up. I'm too scared to have windows open in summer unless I have someone with me. On the plus side hornets have cured my fear of wasps.

  4. Grannymar - Hypothermia can easily creep up on someone without their realising. Very sensible to be on the alert for it.

    Leah - Naturally you've aroused my curiosity, but I totally understand that you don't want to blog about it. There are things I would also never blog about. Have you had any therapy to try and get to the bottom of it?

    Scarlet - I guess a lot of people are afraid of either hornets, wasps or bees. I was once stung badly by a wasp that got into my shirt sleeve, but luckily it didn't leave me with any permanent fear.

  5. I think I have Ablutophobia(a fear of cleaning, bathing or washing.) At least that's what I tell the wife

  6. I think we all have them Nick, the trick is in recognizing tham and also if life incapacitating deal with them through therapy or bio-feedback.
    I've had my share. I had severe agaraphobia (sp?) at one point in my life and now I'm limited to fear of crowds - but only at times and onset is far too rapid to handle it with dignity, I rush off wordlessly.
    PS and poor you with nightmares and not the upside of positive dreams.

  7. there is a fear of going unnoticed. i think i have it :)

  8. Quicky - Well, if there's a fear of germs and contamination, there must be an opposite like ablutophobia.

    www - No agoraphobia here. In fact I love barren, secluded spots like mountain peaks. Funny, fear of crowds seems more like claustrophobia because you're not in an open space, you're hemmed in by lots of people.

    Kylie - Hi Kylie, I've noticed you!

    Kylie - Hey, I've noticed you again!

  9. I don't think I have a 'phobia' although I'm not fond of spiders or burning at the stake - and Nick, you might be the strong silent type but hey, you were up for meeting me on my turf and for that I am eternally grateful. I think we all are a little afraid of not having 'mattered' silly really but I think we would all like to leave this mortal coil thinking that we'd had some sort of impact.

  10. Baino - Oh I don't mind meeting people, though I'm often a bit tongue-tied. It's just the attention of large numbers of people I find unnerving. I'm not at all bothered about whether I've "mattered", I think enjoying myself is the main objective.

  11. My one secret fear was that Urmeela will survive me. Now that she has gone away, I have none. At least that I am conscious about. My recent reading of a book Denial of Death has made me understand many things about that aspect of secret fears and what vestige of fear I had of that too is now gone. You can have a look at the review at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Denial_of_Death

  12. Ramana - I assume Jenny will survive me, as she's 10 years younger, but who knows? I'm certainly not afraid of death, I would be happy to go tomorrow if that's what's on the cards. My theory is that this life is all a dream, and I'll wake up in another life.