If a phobia is an irrational fear of something, how come there’s a word for a fear of ventriloquist’s dummies (automatonophobia). What’s so irrational about that? They don’t look right. Their eyes can see your soul.
Similarly, I wouldn’t say it’s entirely unreasonable to be frightened of lightning (brontophobia.) What, like it’s not normal or something, to be scared absolutely witless at the thought of being struck by in excess of one million volts.
These and a host of other phobias are listed at www.phobialist.com. You come away from the site far more nervous, far more in need of a psychiatrist than before. An innocent browse and you are left a wreck.
You will instantly recognize in yourself far more unfounded fears than you had ever thought possible. For instance, I now know without a shadow of a doubt that I am indeed a rhabdophobe. For those not in the know, this means that I live in fear of being “criticized severely, or beaten by [a] rod or instrument of punishment.” (I was going to mention certain high court judges and MPs just then, but I suffer from liticaphobia and as such “have a fear of lawsuits.”)
But though the examples given above are quite natural for the majority of us, how can you possibly explain some of the following examples – genuine fears suffered by people according to the site?
Geniophobia is apparently the fear of chins. What’s that all about?
Aulophobia is the fear of flutes. Such an innocuous musical instrument is apparently the cause of severe distress amongst some members of society, though I can’t possible figure out why.
How about deipnophobia? Well, apparently, this is a fear of “dining or dinner conversations.” Irrational, that is, unless you live in certain districts of North London and loathe vapid conversation and pretence.
But let’s now return to what for many of us are quite rational and understandable fears. If your doctor refers you to a counsellor and you are told that you are a pentheraphobe, relax. It’s quite common. You have a fear of mothers-in-law.
Arachibutyrophobia? Well, we all suffer from this. It is of course the dread of “peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.”
A fear of reading English Literature at what was then the University of North London? Calm down, you’re a porphyrophobe and therefore have a fear of “the color purple.”
(And of being shouted at by editors.)