I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear.

— Nelson Mandela

ID-100286827 fear
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at



I love that word. It just rolls off the tongue. Combine it with any number of Latin, Roman or Greek prefixes and you have a long, funky sounding word laden with meaning that makes you sound intelligent when you say it.


See! Clever, huh?

I have talked about this one before I think (perhaps on my other blog … or maybe I just thought about it, but haven’t yet).

Anyway, emetophobia is the fear of vomiting or being around those who are vomiting — I know this because my son has it. Seeing or hearing someone vomit provokes a ‘yuck’ reaction in most people, but for my son the reaction is a lot more debilitating. It causes intense distress, lasting for days, weeks or months after the actual ‘event’. For quite a while he could not even say the word vomit (or spew, or chuck); fake vomit (you know that yucky plastic model you used to find in ‘Joke bags’ at the show) or cartoon characters vomiting cause him to leave the room and not want to return. If he thinks someone is going to vomit he is likely to run from the room. When I find him, his skin is sweaty and pale, his heart rate fast and he is unable to move (or be moved) from his hiding location.

I have always been interested in the origin of words (particularly those from ancient languages), but my fascination with the phobias was stimulated by my son’s phobia.

Fear and phobia are not necessarily one and the same. You can have a fear of something without suffering from a phobia of it.

As an example, I don’t particularly like spiders. I am afraid of large, hairy ones — but not to the point where I am immobilised by the thought of finding one. I am quite able to spray the bejeezus out of one, watch it die, squash it under my shoe just to be sure and dispose of it. (For you animal lovers out there who are now horrified I would do such a thing — any spider in my home is trespassing, and if I just scooped it up and put it outside, where do you think it is going to go? Straight back inside, that’s where.)

For me, spiders inspire fear, but I do not have arachnophobia.

Fear, as Nelson Mandela states, can be conquered; phobia can be dampened, but is always going to be there.

Not that I watch I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, but I do remember one amusing episode involving Shane Warne and a massive spider. He was said to suffer from arachnophobia and, judging by his reaction to seeing and having to touch a tarantula (I think it was), I have no doubt he was intensely scared of the hairy, eight-legged beast. A fear of spiders probably wouldn’t have seen the tears, shouting and shaking that went on and might have meant that this activity could have conquered his aversion, but I think we were witnessing a phobia.

ID-10070701 tarantula
Image courtesy of Nuttapong at


The daughter of a friend has what seems to be a fear of tissues. She won’t use them, or even touch them. According to the online Urban Dictionary , this is called tissuephobia and is believed to be brought on by ‘a poor upbringing with a lack of manners and dignity’. Knowing this family, I am inclined to think this definition is a load of garbage. The closest real phobia I can find to explain her aversion to tissues is papyrophobia. Not only does this word have a nicer ring to it than the other one, but this fear of paper presents itself in different ways depending on the person and is not necessarily extended to a fear of ALL paper.

We should never laugh about people’s fears or phobias; they are very real. However they are also sometimes confusing. Another friend used to work in a job requiring frequent attendance at the morgue. Clearly, she doesn’t suffer from necrophobia, but it has recently become apparent she may suffer from ranidaphobia.

ID-10054177 frog
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at


Her beautiful home overlooks a large pond, so her balcony is inhabited by a number of frogs. They were in her garage and threatening to ascend her staircase the other night … her reaction was interesting to say the least.

Give me a frog over a dead body any day; but a phobia is a phobia and it can not be controlled.

Finding a frog on your clothing may not be pleasant for anybody, but what about buttons?

ID-10050066 buttons
Scary? (Image courtesy of m_bartosch at


When she was younger, my daughter may well have suffered from koumpounophobia. She hated buttons. She would not wear any clothing with buttons. We weren’t allowed to say the word ‘button’ while she was around. Thankfully, she appears to have grown out of it now, although very few of her clothing items have buttons on them.

I could go on forever such is my fascination with this topic. But I won’t.

However, if you are interested, I found an interesting website which alphabetically lists a whole range of phobias (although not all of them). The Phobia List makes for interesting rainy day or procrastination reading.

ID-10056132 fear
Image courtesy of farconville at


 P.S. My husband, many years ago at a theme park in Japan, demonstrated a very surprising, and very real coasterphobia.

And as for me, there are times in my life when you could be excused for thinking I suffer from atychiphobia.


2 thoughts on “phobia

    I must admit that I have terrible ranidaphobia that, try as I might, I have not been able to conquer. I have experienced many nightmares centred on frogs and toads. One particular horrible experience happened many, many years ago in Teachers’ College, Brisbane…….
    A fellow student was conducting a Science lesson about of all creatures …Toads!!!! A huge, brown, wart-covered toad was locked in a cage to be passed around for us to observe more closely as ‘interesting?’ facts about this wondrously beautiful creature were revealed. This was my big chance to overcome my ranidaphobia. My sweat glands were working overtime as the cage got closer and closer to where I was sitting waiting eagerly. Finally, I could stand it no more!!!!! I jumped up from my seat, holding my hand over my mouth to stifle screaming and vomiting and literally ran from the room. My phobia was too powerful. I was easily vanquished.

    To this day I still suffer from ranidaphobia!! I would much rather be confronted by a snake or spider in my path than a terribly terrifying, slimy green frog.

    ‘Atychiphobia ‘…. It is my opinion that most human beings have a fear of failure. However,it may be worth remembering that….
    Failures are like skinned knees: painful, yet superficial.

    P.S. I experienced failure writing my comments to this blog. I failed to save what I had said when I was distracted for a couple of minutes. I shouted CROAK!! and started again. Surprisingly the sky didn’t fall down and no frog jumped into the study.


  2. LOL!!!! I had no idea when I was writing this that you had a frog phobia too. Sounds pretty severe! I wonder where it came from? When I was in high school, two of my science teachers had rat fetishes … each table used to have a rat poking around on it during class (except when we were doing Bunsen burner lessons) … I hated it. They used to nibble at our workbooks and poop everywhere. Disgusting … but nothing that caused the reaction you had.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s