Halloween is around the corner, and with that, another holiday devoted to anxiety, phobia, and fear-focused festivities! (Not to mention, even more candy than you would know what to do with.) At this point, All Hallows’ Eve is such a culturally ubiquitous holiday that it’s quite literally ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industrial complex. (Statista)
You’re probably already familiar with the typical, familiar frights that come about on Halloween. That said, you might not be quite as familiar with these more uncommon frights, and the online therapy resources available to help people cope with them.
So in honor of Halloween, and in honor of triskaidekaphobia (Google it), let’s explore 13 uncommon phobias, how these phobias commonly develop, and how these uncommon phobias are commonly treated.
1. Ideophobia: Fear Of Ideas
Those with a fear of new ideas, reasoning, or beliefs may be suffering from what is often known as ideophobia. This phobia may evoke anxiety and anxious emotions for people reminded of the triggering idea or ideas, and at its absolute extreme, this phobia may evoke:
- Feelings of dread and helplessness
- Raucous anger and irritability
- Confusion and disorientation
- Emotional disconnect and detachment
- Panic attacks and panic disorder
This fear can seriously impede your ability to learn and grow. If you’re having trouble coping with this phobia, it might be helpful to work with a cognitive behavioral therapist who can help you deconstruct the fear at its root.
2. Ablutophobia: Fear Of Bathing
Whether they cause someone to unhealthily obsess too much or to not care about it, a number of mental health conditions can impact someone’s ability to regularly maintain their personal hygiene, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sometimes, this hygiene-hindering anxiety may manifest into ablutophobia, a fear of washing, bathing, or showering. This phobia can affect people from all ages and all walks of life, and may be best treated with exposure therapy to mitigate the fear of the hygiene practice.
3. Chaetophobia: Fear Of Hair
Individuals with chaetophobia are afraid of hair, whether it’s their own hair or other people’s. This may be a byproduct of trauma, and may cause someone to feel trepidation at the thought of touching someone else’s hair, or even their own.
4. Vestiphobia: Fear Of Clothing
Vestiphobia may refer to a fear of a specific garment or article of clothing, tight-fitted clothing that feels too constraining, or even most clothing in general. Most commonly, this fear is usually provoked by two factors; an allergy to a specific fabric in certain clothing products, or a traumatic experience where the specific clothing item was worn.
For example, if a veteran experienced traumatic events during wartime, they may feel vestiphobia toward the sight of military uniforms. A person may also have vestiphobia if they suffered traumatic abuse and their abuser wore a specific garment or article of clothing during the incident(s) of abuse.
5. Ergophobia: Fear Of Work
Those with ergophobia suffer from a deep fear around workplaces, work, and working. A variety of factors can trigger someone’s ergophobia, and not all of them can be written off as irrational. Entirely rational, valid, and negative factors could exacerbate one’s ergophobia, such as:
- An abusive employer or supervisor
- An unsafe or hazardous workplace
- An inadequate work-life balance
The last point can exacerbate occupational burnout, which in turn, can exacerbate ergophobia, leaving the person suffering from it stuck in a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle. If left unaddressed, ergophobia has the potential to significantly impede a person’s professional life, leaving people afraid of working or even finding a job.
6. Decidophobia: Fear Of Decision Making
A person suffering from decidophobia doesn’t hold any trust in their own opinions or capability to make decisions. They may feel purely dependent on others to make decisions for them, or too stuck to make their own choices. Decidophobia may stem from low self-esteem or confidence, or a condition that the DSM refers to as “dependent personality disorder.” (Cleveland Clinic)
7. Geliophobia: Fear Of Laughing/Laughter
Discomforted by giggles, gaggles, or chuckles? If so, you might suffer from geliophobia, the fear of laughter. Geliophobia can vary from mild discomfort at laughter to active hyperventilation at laughter. Conversely, the fear of being laughed at is referred to as gelotophobia.
8. Eleutherophobia: Fear Of Freedom
Like decidophobia, eleutherophobia is a fear which can significantly impede a person’s sense of agency and capability to make choices. People who suffer from this phobia are much more inclined to follow rather than lead, and may be afraid of the responsibilities that come with more freedom.
9. Nostophobia: Fear Of Coming Back Home
People who’ve grown up in toxic or traumatic households may feel understandably afraid of returning back to that home in adulthood. Likewise, even people who were brought up in healthier households may feel fear or shame at the thought of life circumstances bringing them back to that home, viewing it as a failure on their part.
This phenomenon, this fear of returning home, is known to some people as nostophobia. A trusted behavioral therapist can help you work through the childhood traumas which these phobias may be stemming from, assert healthier boundaries with the toxic relatives, and reframe the feelings of failure that may be driving your nostophobia.
10. Somniphobia: Fear Of Sleep
Sleep plays a crucial, vital, indispensable role in the maintenance of a person’s overall wellness, not just for their mental health, but also their physical health. Just as having a proper sleep regimen in place is so incredibly crucial for one’s overall wellness, the lack of a proper sleep regimen can be incredibly damaging to one’s overall wellness.
The CDC estimates that over 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, and at their worst, these sleep disorders have even been linked to an increased risk of developing certain terminal illnesses, including Alzheimer's Disease (IOS Press) and even cancer (Johns Hopkins Medicine).
If you happen to suffer from somniphobia, the fear of sleep, it’s important that you work with a therapist to have it addressed ASAP, as leaving it unaddressed could affect your health and quality of life immensely.
11. Aurophobia: Fear Of Gold
A person with aurophobia may develop panic attacks, nausea, and even cold sweats at the sight of gold and gold jewelry. Like vestiphobia, this fear may develop from an association with gold worn during a traumatic event, and it may be helpful to work with a therapist who can address the specific cause or causes of such fears at their roots.
12. Venustraphobia: Fear Of Attractive Women
Also sometimes known as caligynephobia, this is a fear someone feels in the presence of women they find beautiful or attractive. This goes beyond simple nervousness or social awkwardness and manifests itself as a particularly serious form of social anxiety, all the way down to chest pain, heart palpitations, numbness, and sometimes even fainting in the company of those they deem attractive.
This phobia can cloud a person’s ability to form healthy romantic relationships, and may be best worked through with a counselor who specializes in both social anxiety and relationship counseling.
13. Phobophobia: Fear of Fears and Phobias
Those who are familiar with 20th Century history are probably familiar with the most iconic quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first presidential inauguration speech, regarding how “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Essentially, phobophobia takes this sentiment to its most logical extreme, by causing people to fear developing phobias in and of themselves. Essentially, this mentally entraps someone in a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re wondering why phobias develop, they often arise from specific traumatic experiences or situations.
This particular fear might seem more abstract and harder to treat without a tangible trauma or specific thing to attribute the fear to. Being afraid at the concept of fear might seem like an understandably difficult issue to manage, but with the help of a trusted behavioral healthcare professional, even the haziest, scariest emotional fog can be met with support and clarity.
Can Phobias Be Cured?
Anxiety is often a lifelong issue that you can never fully 100% curtail. However, this anxiety can be made more manageable and bearable with the help of exposure and a caring, guiding counselor.
Review our database of online therapy providers to learn more about where you can find affordable, accessible remote care, with in-depth reviews of services like Betterhelp, Talkspace, and Calmerry. Alternatively, you could consider turning to an all-in-one provider like Sesame Care. You can read our review of their platform here, and use the Sesame Care promo code "SESAME15" for a 15% discount.