41 Fascinating Phobias, Explained

Whitestone Halloween house in New York City.
Whitestone Halloween house in New York City. / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

From acrophobia (or the fear of heights) to zuigerphobia (the fear of vacuum cleaners), there are plenty of things to be scared of—rationally or otherwise—this Halloween season.

The DSM-V, a standard resource for defining and categorizing mental health issues, discusses what it calls “specific phobias.” Though it doesn’t list every single type of phobia, it does mention five categories, from “animal types” to the decidedly less specific “other types.”

Joro spider on its web.
Not someone an arachnophobe would want to see. / HasseChr/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re afraid of spiders, you probably know you suffer from arachnophobia. (And if you’re watching an absolutely unhinged horror comedy from 1990 starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, you may be suffering from Arachnophobia.)

Dog sneezing outdoors.
Cynophobes, beware. / olgagorovenko/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re afraid of dogs, you suffer from cynophobia, while the fear of cats is ailurophobia.

In this video from Mental Floss producer and host Justin Dodd, you’ll also learn some more obscure phobias, from the fear of deep water to the fear of aging.

When you hear that people are afraid of gravity or slime (two real fears discussed in the video), you might be tempted to chuckle. But even the more unusual phobias on record presumably cause real harm to the people who suffer from them. Many people who have phobias know perfectly well that their fear is irrational, but that doesn’t mean they can just flip a switch to put an end to them. The human brain can be fascinating, but that doesn’t mean it should be a source of ridicule.

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