Revenge of the Esoteric Phobias (or, "Proof Our Readers are Insane")

Ransom Riggs

Earlier this week we got an overwhelming response to my post on esoteric phobias, with 108 people and counting weighing in with weird phobias of their own -- which in many cases were even more bizarre than the examples in the post itself. So I thought it would be fun to pull my favorite phobias from the comments and highlight them here -- and I have to assume that at least some of them are real. (My wife thinks you're all making this stuff up; I on the other hand think most of 'em hold up to the quirky specificity test; many of them just seem too specifically weird to be fabricated [unless you're all geniuses]). So without further ado, our phavorite reader-submitted phobias.

While there were a lot of totally off-the-wall ones, many of them fell into a few categories, the largest of which was water phobias. Fear of things you can't see under the water, fear of drowning, fear of sea monsters, and even a fear of fish from three different readers -- Gypsyfly, who "has nightmares about there being fish in [her] sheets" and is sent into palpitaions of panic by the sight of guppies, Angie, who's made "super nervous" by any fish larger than her palm, and Kate, who "used to want to be a marine biologist" despite the fact that dead fish give her "the willies hardcore."

Several people also agreed that both kites and latex (balloons, gloves etc) were generally reprehensible.

My favorite is joejoe's -- a fear of large text, specifically 14-16 pt. He elaborates:

I have a fear of large text (maybe 14-16pt) in a reading book - such as a novel - especially if the text is a serif font (times new roman), if I am reading late at night, am a little tired, and if I hold the book more than 10 inches from my face. It can make me feel dizzy, hard to breath and give me feelings of dread and panic. This has only happened a few times in my life, but an experience I do not want to revisit. Now I am a graphic designer and deal with fonts all the time with no problem, so this only happens when reading in the situation described above"¦ weird right

Alana can't stand "clusters of tiny holes" like seed pods or shower heads. Fountains in parks make Piccolo "absolutely mental" and "want to cry" (especially when they turn off without warning). Dez suffers from anxiety attacks brough on by "really tall women." Pwell83 is "really creeped out by slow-moving ceiling fans." (I made a silly video in high school about slow-moving ceiling fans, which is here.)

Two people expressed intense aversions to cotton: Laura, who "can't stand grasping [a cotton ball] firmly" between thumb and finger, and LALA, who recounts this gem:

My uncle Harry was deathly afraid of cotton all his life. Not cotton cloth, but cotton balls, wads of surgical cotton, that kind of stuff. Harry was a big guy and not a guy you would mess around with. We grew up on the mean streets of 1960s-70s Detroit and no one would ever call Harry a wuss or coward. But he would freak if he even saw cotton balls, let alone touch them. Even Q-tips made him extremely uncomfortable. Neither he nor his mom could ever recall an incident from childhood that could account for it.

Adam the IA recalls a documentary he saw about a British woman who had a fear of making left-hand turns in her car. "Sucks to be her," he mused. My uncle actually suffers from this same problem (among others), and for years would only take a special right-turns-only route that he had designed to work every day.

Jeannie's husband is deathly afraid of the pizza man and other delivery professionals, even hotel room service delivery folk. "He won't even call to order and when they ring the doorbell, he goes into another room. When he's been on trips alone, he will call room service if he really has to (too late for restaurants) but he'd rather not."

There are plenty more in the comments. Share your own if you haven't already!