Fear is a delicious topic. Not only is it the focus of my novel, Town House, in which the main character is too riddled with agoraphobia to leave the house, but I have such an assortment of my own fears that encapsulating them in a single blog post seemed nearly impossible. To distract myself from my formidable task, I Googled fear.
There’s a fear for just about anything you can think of. And not only that, but each fear has a kicky name:
Did you know about lutraphobia? The fear of otters.
Ithyphallophobia? The fear of thinking about an erect penis.
Levophobia? The fear of things to the left of your body.
Levoithyphallophobia, the fear of seeing an erect penis over your left shoulder. (God, I have that fear right now.)
Opthalmophobia? The fear of being stared at.
Opthalmoithylutraphobia? The fear of being stared at because you have an erect otter penis over your left shoulder.
While trolling the fear lists, I did a bit of self-diagnosing and managed to assign myself a few fears I didn’t realize I had…
Peccatophobia – the fear of imaginary crimes. I have this. I practically frisk myself as I exit a store, just to show how much I didn’t steal. I don’t even mind two-way mirrors in dressing rooms. I’ll gladly surrender my privacy to prove my innocence.
Phagophobia – the fear of being eaten or swallowed whole. Christ, of course I have this. I hate being swallowed whole.
Rhytiphobia – fear of getting wrinkles. Yes, yes, yes! That and dermatophobia, the fear of skin disease, have kept me from suntanning for the past 15 years.
Scabiophobia – fear of scabies. Not entirely sure what scabies is, but it sounds crumbly and disfiguring and chronic and now I’m afraid of it.
Gone are the days when one was made to feel embarrassed by his or her anxieties. Now, having fears is quite chic. So, if you have fears, crow about them. And if you don’t—poor uncouth darling—act as if. Tell a crowd of men at a party that you’ve been diagnosed with a severe case of zemmiphobia, fear of the great mole rat, and watch them fall all over themselves to get you a drink. Or dazzle them with a daintier worry, like aulophobia, the fear of flutes. Very Audrey Hepburn. Or, if you’ve got the aplomb, ply them with that showy grand-mère of phobias, the one I’m cultivating, pantophobia. Sigh. The fear of everything.