Phobias – what do you fear?

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While doing research on phobias, I expected to find the usual ones such as fear of spiders, clowns, water, and driving over bridges. However, I was amazed at the number of phobias out there, the odd names that they have and the specific fears mentioned.

For example, did you know that some people fear peanut butter sticking to the roofs of their mouths? It’s called arachibutyrophobia. Or that others are afraid of the color yellow? That would be xanthophobia. Ironically, the fear of long words is sesquipedalophobia, so the name of the phobia itself would be enough to bring on anxiety in people with it.

As defined by, “A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear.”

Do you fear having a phobia? If so, you have phobophobia, which sounds pretty redundant.

These fears are very real to the people who suffer from them and phobias can make everyday living a real challenge. But what causes phobias, and what can be done to help manage them?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Scientists believe that phobias can be traced to a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry and other biological, psychological, and environmental factors.” While being attacked by a dog as a child may lead to a fear of dogs (cynophobia), other fears often come out of the blue and are nonsensical, such as papyrophobia, a fear of paper.

The ADAA lists a variety of treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, anxiety management, relaxation techniques, and medications. One or a combination of these may be recommended.

So the next time someone tells you that they’re afraid of the sun (heliophobia) or the rain (ombrophobia), don’t just tell them to get over it. Many people know their phobias are irrational, but they can’t just wish them away.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. With over 90 volunteers, we answer emergency calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed. Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green. We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do. In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge. Our Auxiliary Group holds fund raisers and provides other much needed support for our members. Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you, or if you would like to become a part of our organization. (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies or

Contributing Author: Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

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