Are you afraid of the duck?

By Kate MacDonald

Regardless of how much you can bench press or how much alcohol you have in your system, everyone is afraid of something. It’s human nature to be cautious about the things which we don’t fully understand, and it’s very common to be frightened of something you had a bad experience with when you were young.

Personally, I’m terrified of two things: clowns (really, who thinks their faces are funny?) and elevators (thanks, Dad, for dragging me on Disney’s “Tower of Terror” three times in a row when I was 10, because you loved it). Call me irrational, but it could be much worse.

Coined by Gary Larson in his comic, “The Far Side,” anatidaephobia might strike fear into those walking by the campus pond. This is the fear that, “somewhere, somehow you are being watched by a duck.” While this could stem to a traumatic childhood experience, anatidaephobia has got to be one of the most ridiculous fears out there.

It has good company, however. Those with bolsephobia are petrified by Bolsheviks, though there probably aren’t too many sufferers around today (the same cannot be said about early 20th century Russia). Linonophobics are tortured by the thought of string. While not commonly thought of as a terrifying object, it evidently horrifies some. The same can be said for geniophobics, who have a fear of chins. Unfortunately, you really can’t escape chins – even geniophobics have them.

The fear of bald people is referred to as peladophobia. It’s hard to comprehend what makes them scarier than people with hair – it’s not like those with hair use it as a weapon. But pair this fear with the fairly common fear of dentists – dentophobia – and you’ve got a person who’s going to suffer a lifetime of untreated toothaches.

There are many phobias that have to do with one’s given profession, something most professors don’t tell you about. For example, in law school, they don’t mention that liticaphobics – those with a fear of lawsuits – need not apply. The same goes for priests, rabbis, et cetera; they shouldn’t enter a seminary if they have theophobia, or the fear of religion.

And perhaps doctors should be more considerate to their macrophobic patients, who have a fear of long waits. While this annoys almost everyone at some point, macrophobes simply cannot deal with it. Obviously, they’re not the type of people who are going to be braving the lines at a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

There are also certain fears that one probably wouldn’t find on your average college campus. For instance, methyphobia is the fear of alcohol and claustrophobia is the fear of confined spaces – a problem at many college parties. Also, people with ancraphobia have a fear of wind, which can definitely be a problem while walking to class, especially next to the W.E.B. DuBois library.

You can’t help but feel bad for those who have a fear of long words. At 36 letters long, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is really just adding insult to injury.

There are so many common fears out there today. An extreme number of people are coulrophobic (scared of clowns), glossophobic (afraid of public speaking) or arachnophobic (terrified by spiders), so these phobias are thought of almost as commonplace now.

Pteromerhanophobia is a common, but somewhat irrational fear. People who suffer from this phobia are afraid of flying, though it is the safest mode of transportation. Linked into this group are soceraphobics who are afraid of parents-in-law. On second thought, maybe that’s not really an irrational fear.

Fans of Edward Cullen may like to pretend they are phengophobic. Phengophobia occurs when one is frightened of daylight or sunshine.

Arachibutyrophobia, too, is fairly irrational. People with this ailment are horrified at the thought of peanut butter sticking to the roof of their mouth. Chances are that this fear can be overcome by not eating it, or simply swallowing the peanut butter when it’s in their mouth.

Electrogeniphobia, however, is very high on the list of ridiculous fears. A widely unknown and rare phobia, the definition reads that it is the fear of urinating during an electrical storm. While this may be a danger in certain circumstances, it’s probably not something most people ever worry about.

Having a phobia isn’t really a horrible issue. That is to say, if it’s not debilitating or affects one’s daily life, it can keep people safe. If any of the above phobias apply to you, not to worry, it could still be worse. You could be phobophobic and have a fear of phobias themselves.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]